Stories and information from two generations.
I will admit it, I love being grandma.
I will also admit that I am not so keen on being the mother in law.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter in laws almost as much as I love my sons and their children.
I just do not always get along with them. Being so far away I never get the chance to sit down and get to know them. The same goes for them. How do you get to know someone with the short visits 2 or 3 times a year?
Short answer is you don’t. You try to be on your best behaviour and you bite your tongue when you see them doing something for the children that you totally disagree with, but the children seem to be doing well so you don’t say anything. But let’s face it you come away with a sore tongue and some hurt feelings.
What can we do to change this?
Honest answer to that is I don’t know. I have ideas and I have hopes but since every situation is different I really can’t say what would work for everyone. Heck some of the ideas I have tried have been absolute failures. We all survived them but it sure makes for some uncomfortable times.
Here are a few examples of things I tried being the daughter in law.
One time we were called to visit on a Sunday afternoon. I had a fairly expensive roast thawed ready to cook for supper so I took it with us and told my mother in law that I would cook it for supper there. I had all the fixings so just had to spice the roast and put it in the oven. Simple right!! Wrong.
I was adding spices and mother in law told me that if I put salt on it the roast would be tough and way too salty for anyone to eat it.
So I left the salt off. Later when she was out of the kitchen I added the salt and she was none the wiser. Everyone loved the meal and she kept on about “see, you don’t need salt.” I just smiled and said I was glad everyone liked the meal.
That attempt worked because I took her feelings into consideration and didn’t argue with her which saved her the embarrassment of either proving me wrong or proving herself right. I didn’t tell her she was wrong I just did what I knew worked without showing her up. 34 years later she can still think she taught me something she figured I should know.
One time the family had gotten together for Thanksgiving dinner. I do not like tense situations or downright fighting at any time and this day it was getting to the arguing about what salt shakers we should use. My husband saw it was getting to me so when mother in law said would someone pick up the turkey and put it in the sink and run water on it, Don looked at me and I nodded. He picked her up put her in the sink and ran water over her feet. Everyone laughed and the mood changed drastically. She was still telling the story years later when ever she had a turkey to cook. One problem was that Don’s youngest sister thought it was a horrible trick and now that she has her mother living with her we have not heard from mother in law for 6 years and have no idea how to get in touch with her. Youngest sister is married now and we were never told her married name.
So that attempt was a success for the time but it had bad effects for later in life.
I have only once gotten upset enough to tell my mother in law off and it was a doozy. She was visiting for a week and things were going well. It was as pleasant a visit as could be. But when she left my youngest son would not enter a room without the light being turned on and going down the hall he would turn on the light get to his room turn that light on then go back and turn off the hall light. He had never done this and at 4 years old I was getting concerned. I asked him why he needed the lights and he asked me “does god watch you even when you are in the bathroom” Now we are not a religious family so I was wondering where this was coming from and leading to. I said I was sure god had better things to do than to watch when he was in the bathroom. I asked him why he was wondering and he admitted that granny told him god watched him every minute of every day. It scared him.
I got on the phone and told granny that if she ever talked to my children about her god without Don or I there and I found out I would pack her bags and put her on the bus and she would never be allowed to see her grandchildren again. She told me that since the devil was around she wanted them to know that there was a good guy there to protect them. I explained that their father and I were their protectors and adding something else just confused them and scared the youngest one.
Maybe I was wrong in my approach but it worked and I was protecting my children. So I am not proud of my method but I am proud of the fact that I did what I had to do. My son remembers that talk with his granny and thanked me for never having to deal with another on that subject.
Granny however still thinks I am a horrible person for not being religious and following the bible and raising our children in the church. Not sure if that is a keeper or a failure it is a just had to do it.
Here is a definite do not do example.
My husband has a bad reaction whenever he eats pork roasts or pork chops or ground pork. It isn’t processed so it really affects his system. My mother knew this but never believed me about it. One time we were invited out for dinner and she had a ground meat pie. It had bear, venison, beef and pork all mixed together in gravy and a crust. No mention of the pork. It was really good but within 1/2 an hour Don was getting white and sweating and had a killer headache. I asked mom for some aspirin and she got all concerned. She mentioned the pork in the pie. I asked her why she didn’t tell us about it and she said she didn’t believe anyone could be allergic to pork. Don was sick for 2 days but mom learned her lesson.
So please do not try to sneak something through just because you don’t believe in something it could have disastrous side effects.
One final point on this segment.
Do not try to solve the problems while you are still upset. Let a bit of time and distance put a different light on the subject. If you think about what led up to the problem you may find that it is not as serious as you thought it was. Telling you husband or wife while you are upset will just make them as upset and then you have to deal with other people in the mix. So think and then talk works well in many cases.
More in the next post. Takes some time because some situations are embarrassingly funny and some are just embarrassing.
Sorry for not posting for a while, my life has been a little busy.
3 weeks ago my doctor decided to try a new drug to help with the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Well, new to me anyways.
Nothing else he had tried worked and gave weird side effects. So I started getting shots once a week. This week I learned to give them to myself.
This isn’t as good as it sounds, I’m terrified of needles. Since I always managed to not look as the needle went in I was ok with the shots. Now I have to watch the stupid thing go in and next week I will do it at home. Not fun.
I figured why should I go to the clinic where there are sick people sitting breathing all over everything. I would probably get what ever it was they had. So will do it myself at home. Heck what can go wrong, stick myself too deep and have a bruise for a while, or stick myself too shallow, and have the stuff run down my leg. Well I hope that is all that can go wrong.
Got up the day after the shot and went outside after an ice storm and tried to feed the birds. Its April and we have ice, you have to love living in Northern Ontario. Right then the neighbours cat ran out from under the utility trailer, hit my feet and down I went. Knocked myself senseless for a few minutes and could not get back up, so there I sat wondering what to do. My neighbour came home and I managed to get her attention, she got me on my feet and into the house.
Thank heavens for neighbours, since my husband had worked a night shift and was sleeping. He is also deaf, so even if he was awake he wouldn’t know I was hurt and would continue to work at his computer. Remember in Anne of Green Gables when Miss Cordelia kept saying ‘Just like a man’, well that is how I felt that day. Just like a man to not be handy when he is really needed. Oh well I survived it and was stiff the next day, but able to move and do a few things.
Fortunately for me, the shots are working and now I’m knitting for my grandchildren again. I started a month before Christmas making Barbie Doll clothes for my granddaughter. She is 5 and has decided to be a girl again. She didn’t want to be a girl because boys got to play with better toys. Glad she changed her mind because she let her hair grow back after cutting it herself, and she has beautiful hair.
Like I said I started knitting barbie clothes, so my granddaughter has quite a nice wardrobe for her 3 barbies. Her other grandmother bought her a new barbie, and we had sent 2 plus a Ken doll. With so many barbies, I asked her if she needed more outfits. She said not really, unless I really really wanted to make more, in the tone of voice that means they Really, Really want it, but are trying not to be greedy.
I told her I wanted to do it, and she promptly informed me that Barbie”s favourite colour was pink. After making a few more pink things for her birthday in February, I was addicted to knitting little things. And I do mean little. I made panties, socks, hats dresses skirts and tops of all sorts in all different colours and yarns. Little girls can only use so many of these so I have been knitting lots of extras and will donate them to the toy drive next Christmas.
One dress takes a golf ball size ball, now every knitter I know saves me the ends of the yarn once they’re done with their big projects. If I don’t keep up with the knitting I am going to have to move to a bigger house. Luckily for me the site I found the patterns on has lots of different ways to make similar things different or it could get boring.
If anyone is interested in knitting or crocheting for barbie here is the site.
The reason I mention the knitting I am doing is because it is one way I try to stay in the lives of my grandchildren. Being a long distance grandma is not easy for me. I would much rather have them close enough to bake them cookies and hear their tales every day, or at least every week. But the 2 boys and one girl live 10 hours away, and the little girl you see featured in my son’s part of the blog is in China. We’re in Northern Ontario Canada.
I see the youngest one on the computer a lot, since each of us have skype. I sing songs to her and talk with her a lot and it helps most of the time. Sometimes though I think it is that much harder than not seeing her, but I would not enjoy not seeing her at least once a week. She now recognizes my voice and it is fun to see her sweet smile as she tries to find me on the computer screen.
My eldest grandson Sean has his own web site. It amazes me the things he does, because he is only 10 and I keep thinking in terms of when his father was 10. He knew how to use computers, but I don’t think making web sites was around or at least as easy as it is now only 25 years later. Technology is wonderful and becoming more so.
My youngest grandson is 4 and into trucks. Well trucks that talk are his favourites right now. One year we bought him a talking dump truck, and last year we got him the talking garbage truck called Stinky. Finding these new toys is kind of an adventure in itself. We live in a small mining town, so have to go to the city for toy shopping. We hit a store and asked if they carried a talking dump truck. No luck with 6 different stores that time. For Stinky we lucked out at the first one.
Then it was on to finding Barbie stuff. What an assortment they had, but no clothes. That is when I decided to knit them. finding patterns was so hard until I thought of online things and found that great site which has the added benefit of being free. So its a nice hobby, a great present and cheap. What more can you ask for?
The eldest likes to read and enjoys books on mythology. This years Christmas buying has already started at a great used book store. I found an adventure story with mythological figures. I read it and I think he will enjoy it a lot. I hope so anyways, since next week when we go back I will buy a couple more by the same author. Books I understand since my husband and I read constantly and brought up both boys with a love for books. Used to have to kick them out of the house because they would rather read than go play with their friends more often than not.
If anyone has more ideas on how to stay present in the lives of your grandchildren I would love to hear them. As you can read here I love mine and miss staying in touch with them on a regular basis.
What do you do when they come for visits or when you visit with them?
How do you interact with your childrens wives or husbands and not step on toes or feelings?
How do you deal with political correctness when you are around the younger generation?
These are questions we have to face and I will try to answer some of them with my experience which sometimes is not correct.
As I said life sometimes catches up and sometimes passes us but I will try to keep writing here on a regular basis and make some new friends with doing this.
Have a great day and talk with your grandchildren maybe even their parents.
This in itself is not a bad thing. We do not have to have the busy days we used to while our children were young and we had to chase and watch them and chauffeur them to all the activities we felt they needed to belong in. We can take things slower and relax more with friends our own age and friends who enjoy the slower pace as well.
But oh how we love to see our little ones especially if they live too far away for daily visits. We invite the family for a weekend or longer and then we go into cleaning, shopping, planning mode.
You know the one! we clean out closets and make beds and bake goodies dig out and buy toys that we just know the little ones will absolutely love. We plan a day at the stores, a day at the beach or park, a day or two to do exactly what the little ones want to do.
Grandpa is brought into the mix to make sure the outdoor toys are in working order and to clean the outside furniture so everyone can sit around and relax and the bbq has to be cleaned up and filled so it is ready to do the steaks and chicken and don’t forget hot dogs and burgers.
Everything is in welcome attire except grandpa and grandma.
We are so tired after all the work that we need a day or two to recover so we can enjoy our little ones visit.
Then the family arrives and you get hugs and kisses and think to ourselves what a wonderful time we are going to have. Just one thing complications arise.
The little ones are older and not too interested in the toys of last visits.
The weather is lousy so your days at the beach or outside activities are not going to happen.
You think of the box with the Barbie dolls and clothes that you have been collecting and when you bring them out you find that the little girl who loved Barbie dress up last time no longer wants to play with them.
The little boy who loved to read has taken up hand held video games which you don’t understand and all he wants to do is play with those.
Your desire to maybe teach them to cook while you make meals is a total washout because all they want to eat is hot dogs or grilled cheese sandwiches.
So you leave them with their parents and grandpa and head to the bathroom to think of a plan B. I say the bathroom because it is a place with no interruptions usually. But with little ones around the door is knocked on with a small voice sounding desperate calling that they need to get in right away. So you leave with out a plan B yet.
Well it isn’t raining yet just kind of cold so you suggest going shopping. Everyone climbs into the cars and off you go. But trying to take adults and children of different ages to shop as a group just does not work. The boys want to look at boy things and get bored looking at girls clothes or toys and the adults keep saying no they wouldn’t play with that and how would they get it packed into the car when the visit is over.
My advice for that situation is parents go off by themselves. They will enjoy the freedom of looking without having children to supervise. Grandpa can take the boys to their idea of a fun store and grandma can take the girls. Just make sure that grandpa and grandma are on the same budget page.
Meet up later at the car and when you are eating at home there is a conversation ready to be explored.
Avoid restaurants they are not a good idea as children tend to order too much or tell you rather loudly that the food is gross. Stick to home meals where nobody can see or hear you. Stock up on kid friendly meals. Pizza, hot dogs, kraft dinner, chicken nuggets, and french fries are usually good choices.
Now you have entertained and fed your visitors and it is time for bed. Remember that fun ritual. I want a drink, I am too hot, I want to read in bed, I want a story, I can’t sleep in the same bed as him, he kicks.
Well it really hasn’t changed that much.
Finally they are asleep and day one is over. You fall into bed and tell each other that it is only another day or two. You fall asleep to dream of the hassle free day tomorrow.
The next day the weather is beautiful so off to the beach. The children use up a lot of energy and are nicely tired when it is over and go to bed nicely just like you dreamed they would and the visit is a huge success. But you are still tired and starting to hurt from all the activity. One more day to go.
The little ones have decided that the old toys and games are fun so they are sort of entertaining themselves while you and the parents pack up the things to get ready to leave. Finally the hour to leave is here and it is trips to the bathroom, lunch and drinks and snacks are in the cooler for the trip home and everyone climbs into the car as you stand on the porch and wave sadly good bye.
You love your children with all your heart and you loved the visit and wouldn’t want to miss it for anything but oh the peace and quiet you hear and feel is such a welcome change from the 2 days of noise confusion and fun you almost feel guilty that you could want to have your house to yourself again.
Don’t!!! It is normal to feel that way. As I said we are all getting older and just don’t have the energy to keep up with little ones 24/7 for an extended time.
Enjoy the visits but also enjoy your time with the slower pace. You will enjoy the visits that much more when they do happen.
Write your grandchildren to keep in touch and call them often but don’t think you have to enjoy every minute you are around them. It is a grand parent thing to feel badly when you can’t keep up but it is a human thing to admit to yourself that you are older and just don’t have the energy.
I am not knocking being a parent because it is wonderful to watch your child grow into a person you admire and love, but being a grandma or grandpa is lots more fun.
You get to do the fun stuff while as a parent you have to discipline and make a lot of rules that have to be followed. These are good things so that when your grandchild comes for a visit they behave well. But as grandpa and grandma you can bend the rules since you may not see your grandchildren often during the year.
You don’t have to make them eat their vegetables every meal, and bed time is when you get tired not exactly the same time as the parents have to stick to. You also get to buy the toys the child wants because you don’t have to budget for new clothes and school supplies the way a parent must.
You get to teach them things that parents might not think of. You get to let them teach you things like re-learning that watching ants walk across the sidewalk is interesting. Or watching birds fly across the sky and being stopped because the wind is blowing so hard. Or even talking to a stranger the way a small child will. We need to re-learn these things because as adults we tend to forget.
The fun you can have with children when they let you play with their leggos. You might even remember some of the things you built with those colourful blocks. You built forts and farms and sometimes cars but the things you can build now like working robots and cars and space ships. Let imagination run away with you and your little ones.
Little girls still like Barbie dolls so you can spend some time in between visits making outfits for the dolls. Keep a box with things that children like so even a rainy day is not a boring day for you or the children.
Books from your childhood come in handy to read from or to teach reading enjoyment. It is fun to see children who are so used to computers, bikes and gadgets to play with find the stories of children born long before the time of malls and cars find things to do to have fun.
The thing about being a grandma is that you get to be silly or childish and that is the most fun of all.
Fill an empty dish soap bottle for everyone and have a water fight on a hot day. Pack a picnic lunch and take it to the park or even out into the back yard.
Just keep in mind it is the time you spend with your grandchildren that create the best memories that they will carry with them between visits and into their adult lives. Make the most of it.