Friday, September 28, 2007

Strange Happenings

Something is definitely awry, amiss. I don't know what happened or when but somethings have been taking place for a while now and they've really frequently got me scratching my head.

Near as I can tell it all began ten years ago this past August - on the 19th of that month as a matter of fact. My attitude, my base personality began to take twists and turns and my reactions were frequently quite different than they'd been for many years before.

What was it that happened to me that day?

I became a grandmother!

My neighbor and darned great friend Shirley had warned me about this phenomenon - telling me she'd read this some place and adopted it as her own slogan too -"If I'd known grandchildren were so doggone great, I'd have had 'em first."

Yep! Ten years and two more grandchildren later, I do believe, I do believe!

There was a time I used to tell my kids that I couldn't wait, absolutely was looking forward with such glee they couldn't possibly imagine, to that day sometime in the future when they would present me with grandchildren so I could then get even with my kids. My goal was that I would teach the grandchild every doggone rotten trick his mother or father (whatever the case might be there) had ever pulled on me along with every dirty word I know (and they knew I knew quite a few and used them fairly freely too) and once I figured said grandchild had this all down pat, I'd promptly send the child back to his/her parents leaving them to deal with the aftermath.

One day when my son was probably about 14 or 15 years old, he came to me and told me that his older sister was afraid to get married and have children. I asked him why that was and he explained it was because of what I'd always told them I planned to do if/when I ever had grandchildren. He was expecting me to tell him comforting words that he could take back to his big sister and instead I looked him dead on and said "Clate, I fully intend to follow through with that threat." All he could manage then was a big gulp and a very quiet, meek, "Oh."

When my kids were little, there were certain expectations I had for them -their Dad usually had the same rules too -and they knew if they didn't follow orders, there was liable to be hell to be paid. No, we didn't beat them senseless or anything like that but the bottom line was that if their Dad or I said something, what we said went -no questions asked then. Depending on the offense, they might get a light lecture, or a really stern reaming out and occasionally a rap on the behind -it was all relative to the seriousness of the "crime" they'd committed.

My older daughter and I both remember vividly one day when their dad was walking down through the yard, just coming home from work and the boy was about four years old at the time, standing at the front door to welcome his dad back home from a hard day's labor. The kid pipes up to his dad with "Hi Frank!" His dad came in the house, collared the boy, and holding him at arm's length, glared at the kid with eyes that looked blacker than black then as he told the kid "Don't you EVER call me that again! You call me Dad! Got that?" And the boy, shaking in his boots -and thanking his lucky stars too that he didn't get a crack on the behind, nodded his head and shyly replied, "Yes, Dad!"

At mealtime, the children were expected to sit up to the table, shut up and eat! That may sound a bit harsh to many, but when you've got two kids who tended to take forever to finish their meal and allowing a bunch of conversation then could run the dinner hour as late as 9 p.m., it was done out of necessity. They were allowed to converse -some - but they were expected to pay attention to the work at hand, eating their meal, all of it and then, the oldest was to help out with the dishes. Each one in turn, as they got old enough was also expected to help with the dishes, with other things around the house too that they were big enough, old enough to do.

When I took my kids with me on my rounds delivering Avon, they had been taught from early on that when I took them into someone else's house, they knew they were to be seen there, not heard and the very idea of them perhaps wandering around, playing touchy-feeley with other people's belongings - knick knacks sitting out on tables, books, anything that belonged to that customer was strictly off limits for their sticky little fingers to be touching. There were a few customers I had who had children and at those homes, if the other children were there, they were then permitted to play with those kids but otherwise, they had to sit still and behave. And, they did that too without giving me a boatload of whining, grief and aggravation!

The standard line at suppertime too was that they would eat what was put before them on the table because I wasn't running a restaurant there -no separate meal for this kid and something else for that one. If what was put in front of them wasn't something that was a favorite dish of all or even one child, too bad, so sad, maybe the gods will bless your tastebuds tomorrow or another day but today, it ain't happening.

And it was that paragraph directly above here that came to my mind last night as we sat at the supper table to eat and I remarked to Mandy that I was seeing something happen here that I had frequently sworn would never take place under my roof, would never come about via any meal I would ever cook and serve for my family.

A bit confused, Mandy asked what that was and I said "Cook two separate entrees to keep one child happy!"

Mandy smiled, put her hand on my arm and gently reminded me that I never had any children that were autistic either though. And, how true that is. How true it is that one little four-year-old can often dictate what will show up on our supper table these days!

Yesterday at about 3:30 p.m., Miss Maya had informed her mother that she was going to have "mac 'n'che" for supper and had brought out a box of the mix to make macaroni and cheese. One box wouldn't be enough to feed the whole family though so I figured well maybe I can cajole her into accepting another package type mix in place of the beloved "mac'n'che" she was demanding - after all how much difference is there, really, between what she said she wanted and my fixing two packages of the white cheddar and shells mix? Really now, aren't they both basically the same thing? I thought so but learned differently then and there that there was going to be no compromise forthcoming last night anyway from Miss Maya. If I didn't want a child laying in the middle of the dining room floor, kicking, screaming, crying for heaven only knows how long, then I better bloody well fix her the mac'n'che - or else!

Yes we had a lovely meal consisting of baked chicken breast that had been marinated in a lemon pepper sauce, white cheddar and shells, mac'n'che, green beans and applesauce! And Maya had three helpings on her child's plate of the mac'n'che before she finally polished off about 6 green beans and maybe three bites of the chicken breast her dad had so nicely cut up from the piece of chicken he had on his plate.

If anyone would have ever told me 20-25 years ago that someday I would wave a big white flag of defeat at the dinner table, I would bet them money big time on that idea and now you all know too that I would have lost my shirt don't you?

Yes, I realize that I do make concessions -more now than ever -due to Maya's being autistic. She has pushed my patience buttons somedays to a place where I think kiddo, there just isn't an extra ounce of patience left in me and yet, I've often given in - unless it is something that is so outrageously wrong that I just can't allow her to keep doing whatever it is she might be doing at the time - like maybe grabbing the sides of the playpen where her little brother is peacefully sleeping and shaking it a few times just to be mean and ornery! I don't really know that she does that just to be mean and ornery but there are times when I do think she does it for that very reason.

We're supposed to try to work on her in the potty training department and there are efforts ongoing along those lines as much as possible. But it's also another of those things where you "pick your battle" you know! If a suggestion is made about sitting on the potty and she gives off the slightest inclination to do that, ok, fine - go for it. But normally, when that question is put to her and if her immediate response is a really high-pitched, whiney "All done, all done!" then for the sake of whatever bit of hearing is still existing, to keep that last nerve from being stepped on, we concede defeat.

Another day, another time, when she learns just a bit more comprehension isn't going to mean the end of the world if we postpone it that long ya know. I wouldn't have said that 30 years ago but I firmly believe in operating that way now!

My son often will tell the teenage stepgranddaughter who frequently doesn't like some of my rules and regulations here that she should consider herself very lucky that she is dealing with me now because "that's not the same person in that body who raised me" is what he says.

And yes, he's so right there - I am not the same person who raised him or his sisters. Not at all.

And you know what, so far anyway, the house hasn't caved in, hasn't gone completely to pot, no stars have fallen from the sky, the moon is still in its proper place as is the sun and it also helps to keep my hair from being pulled out one strand at a time too until I might be completely bald.

It's not the end of the world as we knew it!


heartinsanfrancisco said...

You're so lucky to have grandchildren. I have three wonderful grown children, but so far, no little people for me to spoil rotten.

Your family sounds perfectly delightful. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Shelby said...

You are blessed :)

Paula said...

What a great post today. I am just beginning to enjoy my grandbabies and can definately see the house rules changing just a tad for these little guys. I've already taken little Noah to bed with me, which was a strict no-no when mine were babies. What can it hurt?? He has plenty of time to learn to sleep in his own bed!

WalksFarWoman said...

What a wonderful post Jeni, written so naturally, you are indeed a gifted writer.

Thank you for reading my Night Blooms post and even given the tough nature of it, I have always been a disciplinarian but like you in a structured manner because children thrive on rules and boundaries - if they know they are loved.

We do change the more we live - and learn. My son is on the brink of marriage and I have a grandchild already in my sights! :)I'm sure Maya brings you equal amounts of pleasure and happiness.

Keith said...


Thank you so much for the kind words on my blog. And I will definitely say that prayer for ya, I promise.

I also just noticed that I have not added you to my blog list. You're there now, and you're a very gifted writer. Bless ya!


dgibbs said...

All of those rules are so familiar to me. They went over well with my girls, but with Connor, well just as with Maya, you make exceptions :)

Theresa said...

I could vividly see you waiving that white flag :)

Oh that little Maya certainly has her grandma's number. I would have to agree, you would have thrown the taste off if you mixed the two boxes- since as a child I went through a mac & cheese faze myself and consider myself a connoisseur.

Singing Owl said...

(((((Cyber hugs))))) I hear you. I suspect I will be surprised at some of the changes in me as Princess Tritny Ann gets me figured out. Praying now for Miss Maya and all of you.