Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's not all sweetness, light and pole dancing

Today, children, we are going to discuss the pole-dancing grandma.

Yes, yes, I know. All y'all think she rocks ... she rolls ... she does the stroll in CFM shoes and a g-string.

But she also is distant and cold.

For the past 14 1/2 years, she has not exactly been the picture of warm and fuzzy grandma for a certain lovely young lady of whom I happen to be particularly fond.

The relationship pretty much went downhill when the Roo-girl was 3. She was staying for two nights at my parents' house (along with then-14-year-old Drama King as a "helper") while I was away (about 120 miles away) for a chorus function.

When it came to be bedtime of the first night, she started to cry.

And cry.

And cry.

Nothing could console her. Not her stuffed animals. Not her favorite food. Not her brother. Not anything.

When I called the next day to see how things were, my mother informed me that I needed to come get her. And so I drove 120 miles to pick her (and DK) up and then drove back another 120 miles in time for a performance (I was in a quartet -- they couldn't exactly go on without me!).

Ever since then, despite her ability to enjoy sleepovers at the YMCA, a week at sleep-away camp and her increasing maturity, my parents pretty much have written her off as ... uh ... too difficult for them.

Then she celebrated her bat mitzvah at age 13. They were stunned to see a beautiful, poised, confident and NOT difficult young woman who entered Jewish adulthood and ROCKED it.

Several months later, Roo did a school project on Coco Chanel. My mother -- a designer clothes horse and shoe-aholic -- was all over this like flies on ... well, you know. She offered up clothing, Chanel flowers, hang tags, advice.

And all of a sudden, my "difficult" child was a lovely young lady.

Fast forward to this week and a set of email exchanges between me and Mom about Z-man's internship/job, Father's Day barbecues and Roo's summer plans.
Is Roo out of school? Have they canceled your summer school like they have a lot of the others? I assume she is going which was her plan the last time we spoke. I know she is going to cheer camp in July. What are her plans? Would love to spend some time with her.
Excuse me? Would love to spend what???

Ok, then. Just for the record, my answer was: Name the time, and she'll be there.

The part that makes me shake my head, however, was when I told Roo what Grandma had said.

"What?" she said, shocked. "Are you sure she was talking about ME?"


"No, seriously. What prompted THIS??"

An email conversation.

"I don't believe you -- I want to see it."

She really wanted me to forward her the actual email.

"You know," she told me later, "I hear other people talk about spending time with their grandparents and I just kinda ignore it. It seems so weird to me."

This summer, I hope my parents figure out what they have missed.


Pamela said...

There was odd space between us (our girls) and a set of divorced grandparents, too. It always had me a little upset and perturbed.

Although -- being a grandma may take some training and learning -- now that I am one, I kind of understand how difficult it is to adjust to the new energy level.

Suzanne said...

I am crossing my fingers and holding my breath that Roo Girl gets to have a better relationship with the Grandparents.

Personal issues kind of color my hopes there. There are two grandparents no longer with us that would have been over the moon to see the boys, one who enjoyed her all too brief time alive after we moved to Florida and the last one? She hardly sees them, even though we live 5 houses away.

Karen said...

Oh, Janet, it broke my heart. I'm going through the exact same thing with my mom over Micah. I love that Roo will get to know her grandma now and that grandma has finally realized that she has a granddaughter.

nikki said...

I'm sorry Roo Girl had to go through this. Hopefully your parents will realize what they missed out on. Second chances don't happen for most people.

LceeL said...

That's a shame. A crying shame. Not that I wish regrets on anyone, but I hope they come to realize how badly they have misbehaved as grandparents. There's no way to make up that time, either. What they've missed is gone and will never come back. And even from this distance, I can tell they have missed out on something very special.

songbird's crazy world said...

My girls and I have lived with my parents since Jen was 4 and Becca was 2, so they've had a very full relationship with one set of grandparents. My former mother in law died when the girls were babies,and they've never known her. My former father in law...he lives in's a very difficult relationship. There are a lot of hurt feelings that caused an estrangement between them.

Daisy said...

Some grand-folks can't handle younger kids. My in-laws claim that my nieces & nephews are "not well behaved," but I see normal and active kids for their ages. I'm glad to hear Roo's grandma is coming around, even while I'm sorry that she's missed so much.

melscolorfulmetaphors said...

My MIL says the same about my kids, but she adores the sweet little girls in the family. And then complains that she doesn't know them very well. Oh well...

Jill said...

That is really to bad for your parents and for Roo Girl. But I'm blad your mom has finally seen the light! Hope they have fun together this summer!

ChrisB said...

I hope Roo girl has a brilliant time with her grandparents.

I think it's up to the adults to develop relationships. It's a big deal for young children to stay without their parents. Not that I ever had any problems with my own children-they probably had more fun with my mother.

I have only had the pleasure of looking after my grandchildren a few times, but I loved every minute of it. Even when they were being difficult and I was exhausted.

The Duchess of Wessex said...

I was born & raised in Germany & did not meet my, "American grandma" until I was four.

My dad asked the Army to send us state-side while he went to Vietnam for a year (in case he didn't come back, he wanted my mom to have a home & raise us as Americans; also, my mom's sister was married to an American & they were stationed in KS so it was the perfect place for us while dad was gone).

Any way, halfway through my dad's deployment to Vietnam, he got a pass to Hawaii & was able to have my mom join him. That meant that my grandma would come from IL to care for me & my brother.

I remember being SO excited to meet her, especially being told over & over in the weeks leading up to her arrival by my mother (trying to prepare her 4-year old girl and 3-year old boy as best she could, since we'd never been apart before) that Grandma would SPOIL US ROTTEN TO OUR VERY CORE!

Meeting grandma, (with my mom present) was a thrill. She looked like Lucille Ball, she smelled very pretty & she was funny & sweet in her greeting & the hugs she gave.

Then the door closed behind my mother & the room got very, very DARK!

I was called, "Pudgy" for the first time in my life. My poor brother was ridiculed mercilessly for sucking his finger (clearly, a way to comfort himself). For the first time our bedroom door was closed @ night, leaving us both scared to death in the dark. The Golden Books my mom read every night were called, "Silly stories" and thrown onto the floor when I asked Grandma to read us a bedtime story.

All the popsicles mom put in the freezer, "For when grandma comes" were off limits and snatched away for the slightest of missteps.

And, despite being told Grandma would take us to the carnival in town & out for ice cream, my brother & I did not leave the house unless it was to go out in the back yard to pick dandelions or gather up, with our bare hands, the rotted apples on the ground that were covered in bees & ants.

I cried every day. And when I cried, grandma pulled on my ear and screamed, "What's the matter with you? Are you a cry baby?"

I was 4 yrs. old. I am 43 years old now & will NEVER forget that week with my "American grandma."

Thankfully, my dad returned from Vietnam & quickly got orders for Germany. We spent the next 9 yrs surrounded by my mom's family and the most affectionate Oma (German grandmother) God ever made.

When my dad retired in 1980 we came back to US. On our way home to KS we stopped in to visit grandmother.

This meeting with my her was very different. I was the tall, pretty young lady she gushed about to her social circle. And, when we left after 3 days, my grandma cried! If I hadn't lived it, I would never have believed it.

The fact is, some grandparents ROCK at being grandparents. Like my parents do with my boys. Never a harsh word, always quick to praise, (praise I never got!) & the support they show my boys sometimes still blows my socks off.

What I've learned is that grandparents can be as different as any other human being.

The older I get & the more stories I hear like mine, the more I realize exceptional grandparents are as rare as exceptional bosses, husbands & friends.

I'm glad Roo-girl's grandma is making an effort to make up for what sounds like a truly awful first impression. Maybe people CAN change!?

Encourage Roo-girl to enjoy her grandma, & not be surprised if her granny turns sour.

Always remind Roo-girl that when people treat her unkindly, it's ALWAYS MORE ABOUT THEM THAN IT EVER COULD BE ABOUT HER!



Nap Warden said...'s to second chances. I hope it works out for the both of them. It is really hard when family members get written off. You never get that time back. I wish someone would tell my sister this...I have...falls on deaf ears:(

Jaina said...

Better late than never, right? I'm sad that she's just now getting to learn the fun that relationships with grandparents can be. I can't imagine not being close with my grandparents...I'm on the phone with them probably every other day.

Beckie said...

HAD to comment on this one. My MIL has NO interest in my almost 14 year old daughter - never has. She is, however, mildly interested in my other two kids. It's sad because she is the only Grandma that we have. The kids are missing out and the MIL is TOTALLY missing out because what she doesn't realize is my daughter is a carbon copy of her grandmother. They have everything in common.

Karly said...

Ah, this just makes me sad. I hope they realize what they missed as well. said...

I think she already did and now she's wanting to catch up. Too bad you can't ever get back all those years!

Joyce-Anne said...

How sad! Your mom has missed so much of Roo's life. I hope your mom can make up for lost time.

Maisy said...

Better late than never!

Burgh Baby said...

That would SUCK to have missed a kid's entire life based on one rough night. Geesh, if I did that, I would have been done with Alexis before she ever learned to crawl. Grandma missed out, yo. I hope Roo rocks and makes her regret all that time lost.

melissa said...

that made me sad. for so many reasons that i'm not going to go into because that's a post all by itself.
i really, really hope with ALL MY HEART that they see what they've missed. and they kick themselves, super hard, in the asses.

Kaytabug said...

I hope your mom never turns back and keeps building a relationship with Roo. What a sad, sad thing. My boys are deprived of awesome Grandpas. My Dad sucks and so does my FIL. My Mom is the only rockin' Grandparent they have!
I hope it all goes well!!!

Janet said...

They likely will and then mourn all of the lost time with her. And so they should.

Janet said...

I had no idea they'd been like that. i don't know what they expected a 3-year-old to be like! My grandparents ignored my sister's existence for 10 years until my mother finally laid down the law to them (these were my father's parents and they resented the fact that my mother had remarried. I guess they expected her to stay a widow forever.). But by then i expect the damage was done.
I hope they can realize what they have missed and get to know that beautiful girl of yours.

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