Sure, of course you’ll watch your grandchild while the parents party on St. Patrick’s Day! Your own hazy, comically crazy St. Patty’s Day celebrations are long behind you — not that you don’t fondly remember the days of sporting green face paint, downing green beer, and playing lively games of McNickels, the “quarters-like" game in which you swallow the nickel. (Such fun!)
No, all that changed when you became a parent. And now, as a grandparent, you join the sprout’s parents in teaching the new little innocent right from wrong:
Right: Paint is reserved for cardboard and other adult-approved surfaces.
Right: Only grown-ups sip adult beverages.
Wrong: Non-food or parent-approved items in the mouth, no matter many cousins promise said item is tasty.
But that doesn’t mean you and your grandbaby can’t have St. Patty’s Day fun. Heck, grandparenting is all about fun! And you want to excel, even if your energy level has sagged a bit since your own parenting days.
Here are nine surefire ways to dazzle your grandkids with a St. Patty’s Day they’ll never forget.
1. Wear green.
No need to dip into the old bank account to buy any new clothes. The next time your sweet grandbaby upchucks on you, don’t scrub out the stain. Is the little cherub no longer a puker? Better still; hit the old closet and unearth that shirt the baby stained on a previous visit instead. You couldn’t bear to part with it then. Wear it with pride now.
Bust out the green finger paints and cardboard and let your grandbaby loose. The cardboard might be too soggy to hang on your door, but your floors and carpets will glow green for weeks to come — no matter how you scrub.
3. Host a parade.
You don’t even need to leave the house. Just tell your grandbaby you need to have a videoconference with a current/potential employer or sick friend. Then watch as the tyke sheds the diaper and streaks back and forth behind you in full view of the camera. Little girls who love to state “I’m pretty” are especially willing participants.
4. Organize a "pub" crawl.
Think about it: When was the last time you saw your actual paper copies of your favorite magazines? Bet it was when you took it out of the bag right after you bought it. Put junior’s need for fun to good use, and entice the little one to join you as you crawl around the house, looking under beds and dressers, for the magazines (err, publications). Pub crawls aren't what they used to be, but they can still be fun, right?
5. Learn Irish words.
When your grandbaby decides it’s a great idea to give the dog a haircut, the term “bollocks” perfectly applies. Bonus: No enraged calls from the baby’s parents when the little linguist shares the new vocabulary. After all, it was a lesson in culture.
6. Hold a dance contest.
What better time to have your little grandbaby experience the joy of dance than on St. Patty’s Day? You'll find dozens of videos of Irish tunes and bagpipe solos right on YouTube. Crank them up and let your sprout dance the day away. Bonus: Naptime comes early and lasts a long time — for both of you.
7. Grab a bottle or two.
Remember picking up empty bottles all over your dorm room or apartment once upon a time? Your little visitor will help you relive that activity. Sure, the ones you find now have dried milk inside and nipples on top, but hey — why be a nitpicker?
8. Organize a search for four-leaf clovers.
Hankering to garden? Or maybe just grab a few minutes of downtime? Organize a search for four-leaf clovers. (Note: This game lasts longer if there is actual grass on the ground and no snow). Tell your little explorer that for each four-leaf clover found, he or she gets to stay up 10 minutes later. The little one doesn’t care about bedtime? Change the game so that unearthing 10 to 15 clovers earns the little one a new toy worth (you’ll love this) $10 or $15. It's a genius way to get many blissful, quiet minutes while your little one is happily hunting.
9. Dress the cherub as a leprechaun.
Let’s be honest: The tyke doesn’t know how a leprechaun dresses. So put a green shirt, pants, sneakers, or cardboard shamrock (you can make one out of construction paper) on the little one, find a St. Patty’s Day parade on the TV or computer, and let them pretend they’re part of the festivities. Waving, jumping, and marching are all encouraged. Don’t worry; no matter your grandchild’s energy level, exhaustion will set in and Mr. Sandman will arrive.
There are plenty of reasons to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially with your beloved grandchild in the house. Who else in your family would take such joy in such simple pleasures? Enjoy every minute — and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
This essay was written by Nancy Dunham, an award-winning freelance journalist based outside Washington, D.C.