You be the judge grandparents’ special: should my dad stop falling asleep when he looks after my son?

The prosecution: Lisa

If Dad’s offered to keep Theo company, then falls asleep on him, what’s the point in coming?

My dad Brian comes to my flat often, as he is on his own and so am I. My mum passed away four years ago and I don’t get much help from my ex-partner. Dad and I have got closer since Mum died, and I know he loves the company.

I’m grateful that twice a week, when I’m at work, Dad watches Theo, my son, who is 11, and feeds our dog Betsy, a 12-year-old labrador who still has a lot of energy. But Dad often falls asleep at mine. He says it’s because my sofa is super comfy and he feels at home, which is lovely – my home is his home.

Theo says he doesn’t like to wake up his grandpa, and he’s pretty much old enough to look after himself, but if Dad’s offered to come and cook Theo’s dinner and keep him company, then falls asleep on him, what’s the point in coming?

He also snores, which is a bit antisocial. You can’t think when he’s asleep; all you can hear is this rattling, like a drill going off. He’s getting on a bit now, so I get that he needs his naps, but I’d prefer it if he didn’t come to mine just to sleep, though he says he doesn’t mean to.

When I get home, I’ll ask Theo: how long has he been sleeping? Often it’s after he’s made their dinner and done whatever else I’ve asked him to help with. After the chores, he’s zonked.

Theo isn’t yet an adult and I worry Dad will fall asleep with the oven on or something. It also takes Dad about 30 minutes before he can hold a coherent conversation after waking. He should watch his weight too, as that’s linked to snoring – he has a pot belly now. Failing that, he should ensure he gets enough sleep before coming to ours.

The defence: Brian

I’ve come to help out, so I should be allowed a little nap

At 76, I concede that my body emits a thunderous noise when I nod off. It wasn’t that bad 10 or 15 years ago, but Lisa tells me it’s unbearable now.

I do try to stay awake, but at my age, when nap time calls, you have no choice but to answer. I’m not senile, so there’s no danger of me burning the house down while I’m asleep. I cook first, walk the dog, then retire to the sofa.

I will pay a visit to Lisa on the odd weekend, but also on Wednesdays and Fridays when I pick up Theo from school. This helps Lisa with childcare costs too, as she works full-time.

I like picking up Theo. He’s a confident, chatty lad and I like to hear about his school life and what he’s up to. But Theo is at that age where he enjoys his own company, so after dinner and homework he goes off to play on his games console. Lisa says, “Can you stay awake and watch him more?”, but he doesn’t need me to.

So when Theo goes off, that leaves me and the dog, Betsy, in the front room. And Betsy is like me – full of life but getting on a bit – so we have a nap together until Lisa returns. Lisa says she comes back and makes a racket in the kitchen and I still don’t wake up because I’m such a deep sleeper. She says it’s antisocial, but I can’t help it.

I’ve come to help out, so I should be allowed a little nap. Lisa says I should watch my weight because snoring and being overweight are linked. I think that’s rubbish. I’m here to pick up Theo and make the tea – I don’t think I can do much more. Theo doesn’t mind, and Lisa only has to endure it for a short period. No big deal really.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Brian stop dozing off?

Brian is lending a helping hand and doing a good job. A post-dinner nap is perfectly acceptable while independent Theo plays on his console.
Maddy, 22

Brian, enjoy your slumber – it’s after the work is done. Should he sleep when responsible for Theo? No, but he’s 76!
Simon, 32

Brian helps with dinner, school pick-ups, chores and a fair bit of emotional labour. He’s earned that nap.
Yve, 53

Lisa, Theo and Betsy are lucky to have Brian in their lives. Theo and Betsy appreciate all he does. Lisa does not.
Sue, 63

After finishing everything that’s asked of him, Brian is entitled to some shut-eye. Eleven is old enough for a child to not need constant supervision.
Inji, 27

Now you be the judge

In our online poll, tell us: does Brian need a wakeup call?

The poll closes at Thursday 23 November at 9am GMT


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