Lesson learned

Not long ago, I wrote in this post of Bubby's utter and undisguised disappointment in the gift I sent him for Valentine's Day. He made it perfectly clear then that little boys want toys not something practical in the gifts they open from their grandma.

So when looking for small gifts to mail to Bubby and Baby Mac for Easter, I thought long and hard about my choices, hoping to hit the mark on two counts: 1) they were toys, and 2) they were toys my grandsons would like.

For Bubby the Batman fanatic, I found a set of action figures that featured Batman, Robin, and a motorcycle. For Baby Mac—who truly wants for nothing because Bubby has it all and shares it all—I opted for a stuffed Mickey Mouse. According to Megan, he loves Mickey and Bubby never did, so there were no Mickeys in the house.

The day the package arrived, Megan texted me the following photos of the boys upon first opening their Easter gifts from Gramma. 

I think Gramma did okay this time.

Lesson learned.

Today's question:

What was the highlight of your Easter/Passover holiday?

Bull***t! I'm the grandma!

As I've grown older, I've become convinced that I've earned a few things, that because I've lived relatively long and fought relatively hard, I now deserve to do what I want, when I want, for whatever reason I want.

Bottom line in my mind: I've learned and earned empowerment, in any and all areas of my life.

Except when it comes to being a grandma, that is.

Yes, I'm the older, the wiser, the more experienced in the crowd known as my family. And yes, I deserve a little respect in that position. But in my short time wearing the grandma hat, I've quickly learned — through my own misplays and mistakes and watching those of others — that empowerment and getting my own way should take backseat to doing what's right for my child, for my grandchildren.

Time and again I've wanted to throw down the gauntlet and say, "Bulls***t! I'm the grandma!" I have, in fact, done exactly that ... only to be quickly put in my place. If not by others, then by my conscience.

Now when tempted to steamroll others with my status, I forcefully remind myself of what consequences may follow uttering the BS refrain:

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and I refuse to mince my words regarding the idiotic names under consideration for my grandchild! Yeah, and you'll make the parents more determined to name their child exactly that just to spite you, because that's what kids — even adult kids — do.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and I will be in the delivery room when my grandaby is born, regardless of who has asked me to stay out! Yeah, and you'll forever be responsible and remembered for the dark cloud looming over one of your child's most memorable moments.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and I will be there to help out when Mom and baby come home from the hospital, regardless of her wishes. Yeah, and you'll create a resentment that's hard to erase.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and that grandbaby of mine needs to be circumsized (or NOT circumsized) and those silly kids darn well better listen to me! Yeah, and you'll soon be told — or should be told — that it's darn well none of your business.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and I'll put that baby on its stomach (or give a pacifier, or not give a pacifier, or feed water, or demand toilet training, or keep the kid in diapers) any time I'm the one babysitting that little one! Yeah, and you'll soon no longer be asked to babysit that little one.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma, this is my house, and I'll smoke (or drink or swear or make racist comments) in my own home regardless of who is here. If they don't like it, they don't need to visit. Yeah, and soon they won't.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and I'll give my grandbaby all the gifts I can afford. Yeah, and those gifts will soon not be appreciated — or they'll be put away by Mom and Dad for reasonable rationing.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and that kid is going to learn not to talk back or he's getting a thunk upside the head! Yeah, and thunks upside the head will be what you're remembered for.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and if my grandbaby is hungry, he's gonna get all the snacks he wants! Yeah, and will you be footing the bill — emotional and monetary — related to him eventually being obese and/or ostracized?

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and if I want to give noisy toys that make Mommy and Daddy go bonkers, no one's gonna stop me. Yeah, and those toys will end up mysteriously broken ... or at your house.

Bull***t! I'm the grandma and if the other grandma gets to do that, then I'm doing it, too ... and better! Yeah, and winning — or even engaging in — the grandma-one-upmanship battle leaves only your child and grandchild as the losers.

I've cringed watching other grandmas commit some of the above. And I readily (and shamefully) admit to committing a few myself. In my defense, I'm fairly new to the grandma jig and have not yet gotten the dance down completely. Maybe I never will, as I have no doubt there are many missteps to come.

But I have learned one thing for sure, which is that when it comes to being a grandma, relinquishing my power is one of the most empowering things I can do. For I am the grandma, and as the grandma, I'd much rather be known for my grace than for my grit.

And that is no bull***t.

Photo: From Megan's Facebook page.

Today's question:

Which of the above have you done, seen done, had done to you, cringed over? Any others to add?

Five grandparenting mistakes

I recently read an article on Grandparents.com about some of the mistakes made by grandparents. Titled "5 Mistakes Even Good Grandparents Make," the article warns Grandma and Grandpa to watch out for these issues that mar a near-perfect grandparenting record:

  1. Encouraging tantrums
  2. Agreeing to do too much
  3. Getting frustrated
  4. Falling for the hype
  5. Breaking too many rules

Well guess what? I don't do ANY of those!

Does that make me the perfect grandparent? Not by a long shot.

What it makes me is a long-distance grandma. A long-distance grandma physically incapable of committing such mistakes. For each of those mistakes -- with the exception of No. 4, but I'll get to that -- requires a grandparent to see his or her grandchild on a regular basis. And I definitely don't see Bubby often enough to rack up the faux pas, at least not those presented by the article.

To wit:

I've never committed No. 1 because Bubby is the perfect child who never, ever throws a tantrum. Okay, that's not true. But because I don't see him often, he's usually on his best behavior when he's around me and I can honestly say I've never seen him throw a tantrum. So I certainly can't encourage them.

The No. 2 mistake is impossible for me to make because I simply cannot agree to do too much. Believe me: I'd love to babysit too much and all the other "too much" issues of which the article speaks, but unless Megan were willing to send Bubby to me as an unaccompanied minor a few times a week -- or pay for me to fly to the desert a few times a week -- there's no way in cuss I can do too much.

No. 3? Well, the article notes how easy it is for a grandparent to become frustrated upon having to hear an Elmo CD again and again and again. I don't get to hear Elmo singing at all ... which presents frustration of a different sort, but not to the degree nor manner of which the article speaks. So I'm clear on No. 3.

No. 4 is one I could commit from afar. But I don't. I'm not one to fall for the hype when it comes to buying Bubby high-tech or uber-educational toys. In fact, I'm probably guilty of getting him oddball creative crap, er, cuss, that most grandmas may not consider. Witness the Bilibo I'm getting Bubby for his birthday. Actually, I've bought him two Bilibos for his birthday. Yeah, I choose weird gifts. Sorry Bubby, sorry Megan. But at least this grandma's not committing Grandparenting Mistake No. 4.

And No. 5, the mother of all grandmother mistakes, doesn't happen either. I see Bubby rarely enough that I don't feel compelled to break all the rules and try to instill the "There are no rules with Grandma" rule. I just go with the flow of the family and do what Bubby is used to. No sense upsetting the norm just because Grandma's around for a few short days is my thinking. Now if Bubby lived nearby in the mountains -- or when there are local grandchildren added to the family tree -- things may be entirely different. But I'd never admit that, of course.

On the surface it appears that I surely must be the perfect grandparent.

More truthfully, though, I'm just mistake-free by default, by a technicality, by 819 miles in between me and my Bubby.

And I have no doubt at all that I'm screwing up in hundreds of other ways, the ways long-distance grandparents screw up.

Hmmm ... Now that I think of it, that is the list I should be consulting. But I've searched and there doesn't seem to be one anywhere online ... yet!

Coming soon to Grandma's Briefs: 5 Mistakes Even Good Long-Distance Grandparents Make. You won't want to miss it!

Today's question:

What's one mistake you've made in the past six months that you're willing to admit?

My answer: I burned Jim's bacon on Sunday, Father's Day, his Father's Day Breakfast bacon. He likes it crispy and I went a little too far in trying to please him.