Frantically ensuring a toddler doesn't break anything in an apartment full of fragile objects is pretty much no one's idea of a good time. One parent took to Reddit to complain of a similar experience: a grandparents' house that's not very toddler-friendly, with some ham-fisted attempts to discipline a young kid thrown in for good measure.
Redditor OSUJillyBean described taking her kids, 1.5 and 3.5, to their grandparents' house. When her older child threw a tantrum over a lack of lemonade (honestly, same), the grandparents tried to end it by saying that if such behavior continued, the child wouldn't be allowed to visit again. They trotted out the same consequence on a subsequent visit when the children's dad took them. After scattering some toys, dad and daughter "spend a few minutes gathering everything back up to go back in the box. 3.5 decides packing them in the box was so much fun she dumps them out and begins to pack them up again.," she wrote. Then the grandparents chime in with, "If you don't do as you're told, you won't get to come over anymore!"
OSUJillyBean describes her husband as upset about the comment in the moment, and says they discussed taking a break from seeing the grandparents, whose house was largely non-childproof anyway.
Fellow Redditors were split, with some pushing for the family to distance themselves from the grandparents and others suggesting a change of venue. "Don't go anymore. If they want to see the kids have them come to your kid-proof house," said one commenter.
Changing the location of the visits was a popular piece of advice. Suggestions included parks, ice cream outings, or the children's own house. That way the grandparents can enjoy the kids without needing to worry about the mess.
Other Redditors also thought that the threat of no visits was less about not actually wanting to see the kids and more an inelegant attempt at discipline—an area in which there's been a sea change over the generations.
"It doesn't sound like they actually meant their grandkids aren't welcome. It sounds like they used a very poor choice of words in trying to discipline your child," said one Redditor. "I share your frustration with adults who have wildly unrealistic expectations of small children."
Another commenter suggested trying to help the grandparents appreciate how unintentionally hurtful the comments were: "A 3-year-old can understand what is being said, but can't understand nuance and sarcasm, and will take them literally."
Finally, people chimed in about the importance of the parents' sticking up for their discipline boundaries with the grandparents. Addressing a mismatch between adults' expectations and the capabilities of kids is an ongoing evolution. Many adults who struggle to bond with toddlers are well-suited to connecting with older kids or have to relearn how to relate to children after so many years have passed since they were in that phase.
"I find myself having to explain that my daughter is her own person, even at such a young age, and we have to compromise and respect her," commented one user. "It's almost like I find myself not only teaching my daughter but reteaching my parents and in-laws at the same time."