A Poor Substitute

My parents were in town for a visit over the Thanksgiving holiday and they stayed for almost a week. Because we live so far from so much of our family, having them here was great fun. Especially for the kids, whose attraction to their beloved grandparents could only be described as… slightly aggressive. My mom and dad handled all of the attention-seeking and chaos with aplomb.

Since my parents’ departure yesterday morning, my three children have made it abundantly clear that I come in a very, very distant second to the pure joy and sunshine and rainbows that apparently radiate from their grandparents. The kids have been giving me a hard time since real life with mom is so much more boring than the holiday-no-homework-chocolate-for-dinner-finger-paint life with Grandma and Grandpa. I made Henry go to bed on time tonight and I thought his eyes were going to roll all the way back in his head. See, I am no FUN!

Grandparents play Monopoly with you. They read you books upon request. They take you on joyrides in their fun pickup truck. They don’t make you eat things that are green. They take the time to actually decipher what in the world you’re trying to say, Millie. In summary, grandparents make mommy feel guilty that the television is always on.


At one point, toward the latter part of their visit, we decided that actually leaving the house was in order. We headed to the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond. The museum is adjacent to the house Jefferson Davis called home when he served as president of the southern states. It’s an interesting place with an incredible collection of Civil War artifacts. And, while I was surprised to find it avoided all discussion of the root cause of the war, it did have a gift shop that sold actual swords and Virginia wine. So, that’s commendable.

Also, for $9.95, one could purchase a sack of union and confederate toy soldiers. My mother bought them for the boys (because, of course) and I think it is the best money ever spent in the history of children’s toys everywhere. I could not care less if I’m promoting warmongering. I only care that Saturday night, I got to sit with my husband and my parents, eat a delicious dinner and have great conversation that lasted for hours (plural!). Quiet, occupied hours. On and on those boys played with those soldiers. It was amazing. I have no idea where Millie spent that time but I can only assume she was starting a fire upstairs. Minimal damage, for sure.


Later that night, when checking on my sleeping kids, I had to pry one of the soldiers from Charlie’s grip, lest he bayonet himself in the eye while he slept. All this to say, the holidays are approaching. Toy soldiers. Just in case your quota of cheap plastic toys, manufactured in far away lands, that you will inevitably and painfully step upon hasn’t been met for the year. You’re welcome.

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