By Laura Claverie, November 2018
When Papa and I became grandparents nearly twelve years ago, we developed a serious case of selective amnesia.
It was as if we suddenly forgot everything we knew about parenting and started with a new set of rules. The word “no” was eliminated from our vocabulary. Boundaries were pushed back or eliminated. Suddenly, these new additions to our family were the most interesting little beings we’d ever encountered, and they still are.
Yes, grandchildren opened up a chamber of our hearts that we didn’t know existed. And pretty soon, we knew that nature had just stamped “SUCKER” across our foreheads.
I first realized that grandparenting was different from parenting when Rylan was a tiny boy. He asked me one morning if he could have a chocolate chip cookie with breakfast. In my parenting days, I would have said “no” and handed the kids some sliced apples. That’s what a conscientious mother does, right?
As a grandmother, I looked at Rylan and said, “Of course, sweetie. Here’s a cookie. Just don’t tell your mom on me.”
He then looked at me and said, “Lollie, why can’t I tell my mom I had a cookie for breakfast?” Busted! And by a three-year-old who is genetically destined to be a lawyer, no less.
Any grandparent will admit that this job is totally different from being a parent. We don’t have to worry about those weighty responsibilities like: Will they learn right from wrong? Will they be good citizens? Will they have a decent work ethic? Are we setting the correct examples and limits? Am I “good enough” as psychologists urged parents of our generation to be? None of this is in our grandparent job descriptions.
The truth is: grandchildren are perfect just the way they are.
The other day, Papa and I took Amelia, 8, to lunch. She’s our only granddaughter and has us both unabashedly wrapped around her pinkie. After a few bites of her tacos carnitas, she leaned across the table, batted her big brown eyes, and said, “Papa, my mom told me that you wanted to buy me some fancy shoes for Aunt Stephanie’s wedding. I am the flower girl, you know?”
Papa looked at me as if to say, “Seriously? Her mother would never say that!” Then he rustled up his tough, expert legal negotiation skills and said, “Well, honey, if I said that, then I’ll just have to buy those fancy shoes. Where’s the best place to find them?”
In a previous generation, we both might have pointed out to a child that the shoes in her closet were hardly worn, still fit and would work just fine. But not with Amelia. Those “SUCKER” signs on our forehead were proudly blinking bright!
It is often said that admitting you have a problem is the first step to curing the problem. But most grandparents I know don’t care if they have a problem. Like most, Papa and I try to honor the rules and expectations our adult kids set for their younger kids. But every now and then, we like to push the boundaries ourselves. If it means eating a cookie for breakfast or letting them stay up past bedtime or, heaven forbid, making a special shopping trip for no particular reason, so be it. At our age, who’s going to ground us?
As for that shopping trip: Amelia and Papa found some silver Mary Janes with straps decorated with pearls and crystals, just the bling she wanted. Thanks to Papa, Amelia had her Cinderella moment, and he was her dashing prince.
Laura Claverie is a local mom, grandmother and writer. Laura is the Hip Grannie.
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