Since he started first grade a month ago (when this was written), we’ve noticed a change in our youngest, previously very nearly perfect grandchild. It was somewhat subtle at first, but this metamorphosis had blossomed into what felt like a full-fledged personality change. I’m sure you are all hoping for a tale that sounds like the traditional butterfly analogy, but no. He already had a personality, was a ladies-man, had an extensive vocabulary cultivated by living with two adults and three teenage siblings, and was very social.
This wasn’t a change manifested from his commitment to math and science. And it surely didn’t evolve from his devotion to singing. It might have come from his love of Roblux or his online video-game interactions with older kids, but whatever the cause, there it was.
He went from pulling at our heartstrings to actually pulling out our beating hearts and showing them to us. We call it the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome or in our case, Jekyll and H-I-D-E.
This personality trait used to appear periodically when he was hangry, when he was having so much fun he never wanted to leave, or when his siblings were so annoying, he could only find peace in our house. But this was a new level of Hyde-ness.
It started rather innocently with a request for a trip to D/G. For those of you not familiar with the vernacular, that stands for the Dollar General store. As a younger kid, that was my sometimes spoil spot for him where he would go and pick out a few throw-away toys or add to his collection of match-box cars, a collection that now looks like the parking lot at the Pittsburgh airport during the height of the pre-COVID 2019 tourist season.
I tried to dissuade him from his obsession with D/G because he hadn’t eaten dinner and other than home cleaning products, there really wasn’t much there he hadn’t bought at least once before. Besides we had asked him if he wanted dinner, and his response was a resounding, “Yes.”
My wife explained that it was fish, but he said, “I love fish,” and she went on to prepare lots of haddock. He also said he’d eat smash potatoes, and he even agreed to try some cooked carrots. It was a joyful moment in our lives. He was actually going to try to eat at least one vegetable.
When he finally sat with us, he played incessantly with the ice cubes in his glass, asked again to go to DG, and when we said no, he refused to eat. After that he put red hot sauce on everything, and he then told us the food was too hot to eat. Arrrgh!
This was also when he began saying things that, even as former Junior high school teachers, started to push our buttons. He told his Yia Yia and that we were old, and he didn’t like us. What the heck? Old? Okay, yes, we are old, but that he didn’t like us? Are you kidding me?
For the first time in six years, we asked his parents to come get him before we both did or said things we would have forever regretted. A wooden spoon came to mind almost immediately, or in my case, my mom’s paint-mixer paddle. Neither of us have been into corporal punishment since the ‘70s when it became socially unacceptable, but he took us very close to the proverbial grandparent edge where we might have actually had to take some type of minimal disciplinary action. That terrified both of us. He is our last and final little grandkid.
We’re old and he didn’t like us?
Well, we put him on parole, and he did tell his mom he felt bad. So there’s that, and the last time he came here, he was Dr Jeckyll, the nicest little boy in the world, and we didn’t have to HIDE.
Nick Jacobs of WIndber is a senior partner with Senior Management Resources and author of the blog healinghospitals.com.
This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Nick Jacobs column about changes in his grandson