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The Midlife Sage Says: Survive A Sleepover Without Needing A Manual Or Medication

When my charming granddaughter Sweetie Pie is finished with her meal, she throws the dishes and leftover food from her high chair tray onto the floor.

She then proceeds to cross her arms, and smile at me. I tried this once in a restaurant and was asked to leave.

At least I don’t need to guess what Sweetie Pie wants. Milk? Yes! Book? Yes! Nap? No! Adult life should be so simple.

Can you imagine pointing to a bottle of wine, pounding your hand on the table, and expecting someone to jump up and bring a full glass along with a plate of imported cheese, Italian olives, and crusty bread? No, me neither.

I recently experienced a four-night sleepover with three-year-old Sweetie Pie.

She loves cheese, strawberries, books, and being rocked while I sing to her. The only thing she doesn’t like is when I try to fix her hair. We’ve settled on three misaligned pigtails.

It’s a mixture of fun and exhaustion when a grandchild stays overnight, so here are my suggestions for surviving the slumber party:

1. Smile politely when your grown child hands you a baby with a two-page list of instructions because somehow they forgot that you raised them without a manual or explanatory DVD.

2. Note how your hearing improves significantly during the night because any cough or whimper shocks you wide awake to scurry to their room to make sure they are still breathing.

3. Remember that crayons will stain the grout in your expensive travertine floor but you don’t want to stifle a budding artist.

4. Child-proof the kitchen. Use bungee cords to secure the cabinet drawers, and lock up the booze or you’ll be guzzling gin by noon. Stock at least one shelf with plastic bowls for them to pull out and throw around. You’ll get plenty of exercise picking up everything.

5. Know that your spouse will magically disappear when it’s time to change diapers but instantly return when you and your precious little chef is making chocolate chip cookies.

6. Never tell the parents that you and their organic child stayed up late to share ice cream and cookies while watching the classic movie Blazing Saddles.

7. Relish the moment when your grandchild wants to give you one more hug when it’s time to go home. Assure them they can return as soon as your eye stops twitching.

8. Momentarily appreciate how quiet the house is after they leave, then plan for the next visit. This is your legacy we’re talking about.

One of the many interesting facts about Sweetie Pie is that she has Down syndrome.

She is a reminder that blessings can come in small, unpredictable packages that may not look like or learn as quickly as others. But, she is a radiant example of abundant and unconditional love in a world too focused on perfect images and shallow affection. I’ve learned a lot from Sweetie Pie, and I look forward to her next visit.

Read more posts by Elaine Ambrose, award-winning author. Elaine is a blogger for JenningsWire.