Saturday, March 22, 2008

A week with the In-laws

Anette has gone to the USA for ten days to work on a film project, but I haven't been home alone with the kids. Oma and Opa were here to help.

Previously, when my wife went away for work or play, I dreaded the extra papa duty a little, but I also liked being the Boss around here finally. My schedule, my rules, my food, my black metal on the stereo. But this week I wasn't in charge at all. Oma did her best to dominate the kitchen area as soon as she arrived, and Opa's ridiculous shenanigans with the kids really overwhelmed my efforts to be the Dad Who Plays the Most. It's amazing what sort of child entertainment value that eighty-year-old kid can squeeze out of a blank piece of paper and a pair of scissors.

The kids had a great time. Adinah sat at the kitchen table drawing with Opa a lot, and Oma occasionally chased V. around the house, a game which makes our second daughter chuckle so hard she hiccups. One night I was folding clothes in another room, and I started to hear all this maniacal laughter from the next room. When I walked around the corner, all four of them were shuffling around a pile of pennies on the table, and cackling as if they had just invented the most naughty form of amusement known to man.

Oma, a.k.a Teresa, and Opa, also known as Josef, met each other and got married more than fifty years ago: he had fought for the Germans on the front lines, then became a POW, while she stayed home and tried to survive in a tiny farm town in Austria. The first time they saw white bread, they were astounded. A few days ago, I was making us some lunch, and I asked Opa if he would like some shrimp. He said he'd never eaten one.

So it's sort of amazing for me to watch them cavorting around our big city apartment sixty years later with their Ethiopian and half-Nigerian grandaughters. Could they have ever imagined their twilight years would look like this?

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