Lately I’ve turned into some kind of softie, and I don’t know why. Certainly in my days as a high school teacher I was no pushover. There was no mouthing off in any of my classes, no smirking, no muttered comments. And didn’t my husband and I make a solid no-nonsense parenting team when our own kids came along?
Lately I’ve turned into some kind of softie, and I don’t know why.
Certainly in my days as a high school teacher I was no pushover. There was no mouthing off in any of my classes, no smirking, no muttered comments.
And didn’t my husband and I make a solid no-nonsense parenting team when our own kids came along?
But something has sure happened in the last few years, and it seems to me it began around the time our oldest child began having children.
The two little guys were recently here for a sleepover. They arrived at suppertime.
First, at my suggestion, we whipped a pint of heavy cream, ladled it onto some sugar-dusted berries and went to work with our spoons, only later moving on to the chicken, the veggies and the rice.
Then, after eating, they experimented with climbing the stairs toward bed by handing themselves along the narrow margin OUTSIDE the railing.
We did the bath and brushed our teeth, one of them standing on the lid of the toilet to do so.
That was the little one.
I then put him in his pjs, read him three books and tucked him into his crib.
There, I sang to him, kissed him and started heading back to the living room – only to turn around and find him calmly following three feet behind me, his little blue blankie clutched in his hand. He had simply climbed back out; gone over the wall so to speak.
“Daaavid!” I called to my husband, who was by then reading “Harry Potter” bedtime stories to the 6-year-old.
“Let’s try switching kids,” he said and scooped up the escapee to bring him back to his crib, leaving me with the older boy who, sated for now with the hijinks at Hogwarts, fell to asking me a great many questions.
At one point he looked at me in a searching way and asked, quite out of the blue, “Where is YOUR mother, TT?" (He named calls me TT.)
“Ah! Well, my mom is gone now, but, oh, she was a great one!”
“I guess because she seemed to get such a kick out of us kids. She was 20 years older than most of our friends’ moms and maybe that was why. She had … perspective.”
“The ability to see things for what they are, sort of. Also she seemed to know when to let a thing go.
“Plus she never got mad at us, not really. Like this one time she tried chasing us with a hairbrush to spank us, though she’d never spanked anybody in her life.
“Around and around the dining room table we went - it was like a Tom and Jerry cartoon - until finally she stopped short.”
“Because she was laughing so hard. I think she suddenly realized how she looked, a woman 50 chasing a couple of little kids. ‘You young hooligans!’ she yelled and then laughed even harder, which made us laugh, too.
“Also, when I grew up and had my own babies and brought them to her house, she sort of let them do whatever they wanted.”
He paused briefly, then said, “That’s how YOU are,” in just that frank first way, and there it was, talk about from the mouths of babes: the change I could not until then identify with my dessert-first, use-the-stairs-like-a-jungle-gym, why-not-lie-around-talking-all-night ways.
It’s so simple, I now see. All that happened was I became a grandparent!
Write to Terry at TerryMarotta@verizon.net or P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890. For more tales and photos, too, see her blog Exit Only at http://terrymarotta.wordpress.com.