Sunday, May 29, 2011



So we had four days to recover and get into the stuff of everyday life again.

Then little N came.

Back when she first began to call me grandma,
her mom told me that it was okay with her.
There is always a but.
But I had to be a "real" grandma.

She gave me her version of what being a "real" grandma was.
A real grandma bakes with the kids and does crafts.
She did not want them to come over and just hang out.

Okay...that got me to thinking...

I had two grandmas that I can recall in my life.
Gertrude, who was a working business woman who was "dutiful"
in that she did presents on Christmas and birthdays and would show up if we were in school functions to watch. Always, no fail.
However, you could see her checking her watch and she left like her tail was on fire when her obligation had been met.
Not a fairy grandma.

G.G., about whom I have written before, was in my head the "real" deal.
Did she bake?
Yep, but my job was to watch, then lick the spoon and bowl
and later reap the goodies at snack time.
Did she do crafts?

In fact, GG did not have toys.
She had a double set of dominos that I used like legos.
Other than that, all there was to play with at GG's
was a painted cast iron cat that sat next to the fireplace that was never lit.
I enjoyed many hours pretending that was a real cat.
I took my own drawing supplies.
That was it for entertainment.

Yet, I absolutely loved to go to GG's every summer.
She was old, old.
A throw back to an antique era.
She had a "boy"
(who was about 60)
who did all her yard work and handyman stuffs.
(No, he was not black.)

GG had a flower garden that was amazing.
It had crushed oyster walkways and all the flowers were the kind you cut to fill your home with lovely scents.
There was a sitting area in the middle where her garden club ladies came to visit, eat cookies and drink tea.

GG tended the garden herself.

This required suiting up.
GG donned a garden shift... a formless sack thing
that she covered with an apron.
She wore long garden gloves up to her elbows.
Clunky rubber boots covered what little was exposed of her twiggy legs.
She topped it all with a giant straw hat that tied under her chin.
Ladies, she warned me, do not allow their skin to become tan.
Ladies did not want to look like farm hands.
Apparently they did not need sun screen.
Ladies in those days were pretty smart!

GG's house was always quiet.
There were morning prayers, grace at every meal and evening vespers.
Church twice a week
and of course charity work.
The house itself had the reverence of church or a library.
She had garden teas and gin rummy club.
An abundance of likewise old, old ladies.

What GG did do for me was open up her library.
She did not merely allow me to read her books.
She had read them all and entered into discussions.
She loved science and God.
Those were the topics on any day.

What GG did as a grandma that made her "real" to me
was not about "fun" things to do.
It was that she listened and heard my ideas and answers.
She asked questions and made suggestions
rather than correction to how I thought.
She encouraged me to think and see the wonders around me.

I have no problem doing the cooking and craft thing if that is what the kids want.
I do draw the line at glitter.
No glitter! It gets everywhere.

But it is my suspicion that crafts and baking are not what make you
a "real" grandma.

Children want two things.
To know that they are loved and to have someone's attention.
That's easy as pie...
Talking and listening.
Sharing of ideas and having someone respect and care about what you think.
Someone who laughs at your dumb kid jokes
or soothes hurt feelings.
And hugs. Lots of hugs.

Little N came to stay with us for 24 hours.
I was exhausted by the time she left.
There was no baking or crafts.
There was ice cream and cake.
She does love to draw and I made those supplies available.
There were bubbles to blow.
We put drawings on the fridge.
Mostly we talked and laughed at silly kid jokes.
In short, I paid real attention to her.

I hope that was real enough.


  1. So glad to see you back and posting again. I am sure you are a "real" grandma, and you know how I feel about grandmas. And the only thing you need to do to be a real grandma is to be who you are, and give yourself as best you can.

    That is enough.

    btw: time to edit that profile ;-)

  2. I am not much of a baker myself. When my grandkids come over I let them make a mess getting out every single toy I keep for them. We also read, draw, I listen to them talk, and sometimes we even watch tv :-)
    I think we both qualify as "real" grandmas!

  3. Cricket-- Yes, and frankly, your own grandma posts have inspired mine. :D

    Its been suggested that I change it and I tried last night but it didn't work. Blogger can be a real bitch sometimes. I'll keep trying.

  4. laura b-- You sound like a perfect grandma to me!
    Especially allowing them to make messes. I can do paint, clay and dirt, but that glitter thing drives me bats.
    I agree... we both are real. ;-)

  5. I don't do crafts much, but I've always been better about taking kids outside and running around like crazy. My girls always slept really well.

  6. you are absolutely right. it's the listening and sharing that make it real. i was blessed with two real grandmothers. they both had very different personalities and my time with each was very different but they both listened and they both shared and there was a lot of love between us.