Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Different Person

My son frequently tells the step-granddaughter here stories about me, how I was when he was a kid, with him, with his sisters and generally concludes those stories by pointing to me and saying, "That is not the same person who raised me!" He usually tells the kid to be darned thankful too that the old lady is now a very different person.

And yes, I am in many ways - different.

Grandchildren definitely will do that to you!

Although my older daughter has always accused me of being much more lenient with Mandy than I ever was with her or with her brother. And, that too is also probably true too. You learn with each child that first off, each one of us is different so what process worked with the oldest may work fine with the second child -or maybe somewhat - or not. But with the third child, I think your priorities and standards have changed so much that you really don't worry as much about having sweet, perfect, extremely polite and well-behaved kids that can come at such a price to your own stress levels that you realize, it just isn't worth quite that much effort.

Of course, things were a lot different during my daughter Carrie's early years too as my Mom was living with me and she was really the main disciplinarian. I went to work every day -yes, I did really, as a general rule, go to work almost every day most of the time and some weeks, I did work every single day! Being the sole support of Mom and my daughter and living in the D.C. suburbs, unless I either had access to working overtime - and lots of it - or had a part-time job when the overtime would dry up now and again, there was no way I'd have been able to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our back without going to work every or darned near, every single day!

Fortunately, with Mom living with us, taking care of Carrie, I was free to work whatever number of hours I could get or want to put in to see to it that our basic needs were covered.

With my son and the younger daughter, life really wasn't that much different because, from the time Mandy was almost four years old, I was back to being a single parent, working two jobs again! Only now, there was no such thing as overtime - not at a truckstop restaurant anyway. So I had a second job - I sold Avon - and did that for 18 years. And somehow or other I managed to do what had to be done - keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes for the kids and occasionally, had a little left over to do something pleasant. Although the "doing something pleasant" aspect when my kids were growing up was a pretty far and few between type experience. But they survived, so did I and here we are today, still doing the same thing as history repeats itself only this time it is my son-in-law who works a 40-hour week then comes home and often works part-time at the garage of the local used car shop or if he isn't working up there, he's doing mechanical work for various people around town who know he has a reputation for being a decent mechanic and charges a very fair price for his work too.

And, I get the honors now of taking care of Miss Maya and her little brother, the Duke - Kurtis! (My older grandson, Alex, is the Prince since he got that title bestowed on him when he was a baby and Maya, being the first Granddaughter, naturally is my "Princess" and I had to have a title for Kurtis but didn't want Alex to feel slighted by having to share the Prince title so Kurtis became "the Duke." And, because I don't have to worry constantly about the bulk of the household expenses as Mandy and Bill do take care of most of that, I am less stressed -most of the time - and can deal easier with the kids now than I could with my own when they were small. At least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it anyway.

This past weekend, since I wasn't going to be here Saturday night to watch the Princess and the Duke, Carrie - the older daughter -offered to take the two little ones over night at her house -about 45 miles from here. She's done that a few times before, had no problems with either of the kids being away from home either and she really enjoys having the two little ones around for a weekend too.

Sunday morning, when Mandy got up, the first thing she said to me after she got her wake-up cup of coffee was "I wonder how late Kurtis kept Aunt Carrie up last night?" There was definitely a touch of evil in her voice when she said that and we both giggled too as we were thinking how this past week, for whatever reason, had not been an easy sleep week for little Kurtis. Matter of fact, he'd slept downstairs in the pac'n'play several nights because if Mandy took him upstairs, it seemed he would just toss and turn and fuss and fuss, preventing her from falling asleep. So she would leave him down here with me, to yell and sometimes cry and scream, fussing until he would finally give up the ghost anywhere between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. (I'm often up and awake well beyond 2:30 a.m. so it didn't make much difference if he was downstairs with me as he wasn't preventing me from sleeping.)

Sunday morning, I left for church and Mandy headed down to Lamar to pick up the kids. After she had picked them up and started for home, Carrie phoned me to tell me about what a fun time she and her fiance, Robert, had had Saturday night with grammie's two little angels.

Now, one thing you have to know first off here is that Robert really knows nothing - and I do mean NOTHING about little kids - how to deal with them, expectations to have that are reasonable, etc. Plus, he refuses to acknowledge that Maya just doesn't operate always on the "normal" type of wave length that most three-year-olds may tend to have too and you have to take those things into consideration at all times too when dealing with her or you end up with her having a meltdown that can last anywhere from five to ten minutes or it can go on for what seems like an eternity too - of crying, repeating words, any words that pop into her mind, endlessly in a very annoying tone of voice along with rolling on the floor, kicking and sometimes even out and out ear-piercing screaming too! We try our best to keep her as calm as possible and still get a certain amount of discipline and expectations for how we think she should behave and keep the meltdown possibility at as low a level as we can.

Carrie said the first problem arose at supper Saturday night when Robert had decided that it was time Maya would learn to eat all the food on her plate - no more of this picking and choosing what she will eat! No siree Bob! And I was that way, ALWAYS, when my kids were young - whatever was on the table, they were expected to eat THAT. Not necessarily huge portions or anything, but they were expected to eat at least a little bit of whatever was being served. My favorite mealtime expression was "You'll eat what I cook or else because I'm not running a freaking restaurant around here." And, my kids, for the most part, knew I really meant business about that too.

With Maya, we try to get her to eat a little bit of everything the rest of us are having but there are somethings we know she absolutely WILL NOT EAT so at times, we do compensate a little bit there and I may have something fixed (something small, easy) just for her. Not all the time, but now and then and it does save a lot of pain and anguish, makes meals a lot less nerve wracking for all concerned that way. And Robert tried to insist that Maya eat more than the macaroni and cheese Carrie had made - but those green beans just were not going to be part of her dietary choices for that meal! Carrie said Maya ended up winning that battle with Robert! And, I was far from surprised at hearing that too!

Bedtime came and the kids were dressed for bed but it seems neither of them had any plans on going to sleep anytime soon. Eleven p.m. came and went and both kids were still awake. Midnight, one a.m. then 2 a.m. and finally Carrie was able to get Maya to go to sleep. At home, she generally isn't up near that late - usually she goes to bed anytime between 9 and 10 p.m. but if she thinks she can hassle people enough, stay up later you know, she's definitely able and willing to do that. Kurtis decided to make his stay with Aunt Carrie and Uncle Robert a lot like he'd been doing to us all week here too and he had Robert up with him till a little past 2:30 a.m.
Carrie said that wouldn't have been all that bad to deal with had they both slept long in the morning -which Maya generally does (most days, she doesn't get up till 9, sometimes as late as 10 a.m.) But Sunday morning, she was awake and up and not even thinking in the least about going back to bed, back to sleep, at 5 a.m. While Carrie tried everything she could think of to try to cajole her, entice her into coming back to bed, Maya proceeded to have a really fun time exploring Aunt Carrie's bedroom, getting into her makeup, her hair products, shoes, etc. Carrie said she was struggling to stay awake and suddenly had mists of cologne being sprayed in her face by Maya, who had managed to find and get Carrie's different colognes off the dresser and was spritzing her with them.

And, listening to her tell me this tale of her woes with her little niece and nephew, I was howling laughing at her dilemma and also Robert's.

While we were talking on the phone, Mandy and the kids arrived home. Complete with a surprise for me, no less! The first one through the door was the step-granddaughter, carrying this little package in her arms that as soon as I saw it I said, "That kitten is going right straight back from whence it came -no way in Hell are we having a damned kitten in the house and especially not a freaking orange one!" I have an aversion you see to orange cats since in the past 27 or so years, we had on two occasions had an orange cat and they both were evil, obnoxious little beasties! The one shredded the screen on my kitchen door as he was both an indoor and an outdoor cat and if he was outside and decided he wanted to come back in, he would throw himself at the screen and managed then to shred the screen in the process! I hated that cat! He would let you pet him maybe three, four times tops and then, turn around and try to bite your hand. Mean little bugger, George was. And, the other orange cat we'd had which Carrie had found while on a nature walk one Sunday with the Youth Ministry Group, never really became tame, not fully anyway. He was just as mean and ornery as he could be too. I hated Luther too! And after George had finally disappeared about 8-9 years ago, I had sworn that I would never, ever have an orange cat in my house again. Besides, we have the pretty furball, Gracie, who we've had for 16 years now and I am perfectly content with her, sweet, loving thing that she is.

Now Carrie was laughing hysterically at my ranting and raving over them having the audacity to bring this damned kitten home! Although I kept saying it was because I just didn't want another cat, especially not another orange cat too, there was another reason I didn't want one of the four kittens Carrie's cat had about eight weeks ago and that was that they are all very short-haired cats and Bill, the son-in-law, is extremely allergic to short-haired cats! I really didn't want to hear him moaning and whining and complaining day in and day out about how bad his eyes were itching, seeing how red his eyes would be in a matter of an hour after he'd get home from work each day. Gracie doesn't bother him because her fur is very long-haired and fluffy but the short-hair cats just totally give the poor guy absolute fits.

Well, a day later now and Nina (the orange kitten) is nicely ensconced in the house! Bill and I have both lost that battle. Maya plays with the kitten - actually quite nicely for the most part too and Kurtis loves to watch the kitten romp around the room, up and down on the sofa, running along the back cushion within reaching range of the little guy too and even stops now and again, puts her head on her front paws and watches Kurtis watching her. Oh yes, that's another thing too - another reason I didn't want another cat - or maybe I should say I didn't want another female cat at any rate! I definitely don't want the hassle of kittens and trying to give them away or worse, offering to pay people to take one of them if worse might come to worse.

Tonight, Bill was working at the used car garage, Mandy was at her job and I was here, alone with the kids. THe phone rang and it was a guy calling about getting Bill to come do some brake work on his car and I was talking to him, getting information,etc. and as any parent will tell you, as soon as you pick up the telephone, that's a signal for all children to find some way to get into something, anything that they know will really antagonize whoever is there with them!

And, in that respect, Maya is quite normal!

For a while as I talked with the caller, Maya was being fairly well-behaved - just running around, chasing the kitten, talking to Nina (yes, the kitten's name is Nina). But then, there was silence, followed shortly thereafter by loud, very loud gales of laughter emanating from the kitchen area. And as any parent probably will agree with me on this there are two sounds which indicate a problem when dealing with small children. One is the sound of silence (when you know the kid is awake, out and about the house, and the other is when you hear laughter that is coming in the form of loud cackling laughing. I told the caller I thought I might have a problem here with my granddaughter and I'd have Bill call him either later tonight or tomorrow evening.

And I then headed to the kitchen. There I found such a lovely mess awaiting me. This child, my sweet little princess, is soooo very lucky that her grammy loves her!

She had taken the kitten's food dish, sprinkled a little bit of dry cat food in it and then, proceeded to mix that with kitty litter - unfortunately not kitty litter from the bag but rather, she opted to scoop kitty litter out from the litter box -and then she dumped bowls full of this mixture in several nice little piles all over the kitchen floor.

Trust me when I tell you this - I was not impressed. Nope, not in the least! She came extremely close to getting a spanking! But then I remembered that about 30 years ago, her uncle had pulled a similar trick on me and I had let him live!

He had emptied every box of cereal in the cupboard into a pile on the kitchen floor -directly in front of the cereal cupboard, topped this dry cereal by emptying the oatmeal box on top of the pile and then, as if that wasn't enough, he had taken the maple syrup and poured that all over this cereal mound and proceeded then to run through it. The syrup on his pajama bottoms caused the oatmeal to cling to the fabric which in turn gave the appearance that he had just been tarred and feathered -which by the way, is exactly what I wanted to do to him then too!

But, for some odd reason that day, I had decided against punishing him in that manner and just went about cleaning up the mess. And I took the same actions tonight with Miss Maya too! Not that I didn't grumble and cuss a good bit - on both occasions as I cleaned the messes up - but for some strange and perverse reason, I also had to laugh about what each one - my son, then years later, my granddaughter, had managed to do to me.

Yep! My son is lucky I loved him then. Maya is lucky I love her dearly too. And the only regret I have there is that Maya managed to pull that stunt on me instead of her mother which is the way it should have been.

And that's it from me tonight -or rather this morning. So, with that little story out of the way, here then is the Bushism for today, Tuesday, June 5, 2007.

"I want each and every American to know for certain that I'm responsible for the decisions I make and each of you are as well." - Appearing on Live with Regis; September 21, 2000.

And the same goes for me and my kids, my grandchildren too DUBYA.


lattégirl said...

All of our past experiences teach us something and turn us into a different person.

The old phrase "If only I knew then...!" rings true because we wish we could go back in time and do things differently.

Thing is, our concept of time is mostly linear and we can only move forward whilst looking back on our learning experiences and acting upon what we know NOW.

I was the person I was at 28 because that is all I knew then. I have learned since and have adjusted my way of being accordingly.

I still wish I could go back one day in time to 17, 27, 37 and tell people off.

Shelby said...

If only I knew then what I know now - or if I had my body now that I had then .. either of the two would be fabulously helpful.

Debo Blue said...

Poor Jeni, having to clean up all that kitty poop! I'm laughing WITH you, right!

I often wonder how much my mother has changed from disciplining us when we were children to how she disciplines her grands, or should I say how she doesn't.

My mother never made us eat all the food on our plates but if we didn't eat, she didn't care. After starving through the night we learned to eat everything on the plate, no more resistance!

TomCat said...

Of coures you're different. Doesn't fine wine improve with age?