Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stay Tuned

For the next three weeks, I will be traveling. I will write as I can so please stay tuned. My computer will be logging miles.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One on One

“Do you want to go to the art museum?” I asked. Sydney and I stopped to shop a bit before we headed downtown to the art museum. This was our day of one on one, my birthday present to her. All plans were laid in place. I surprised her with a quick stop to pick out a new shirt and shorts then to spend the day surrounded by art.

“I really like to shop, Grammy. Like the time we tried on all those dresses? That was fun,” she replied.

“It’s your day. You make the choice, and we’ll do it.”

“Let’s go on a day when the sun is shining, and we can walk around downtown.” The writing was on the wall. My well laid out plans were about to change.

Conversation that began with her answering the questions I asked soon turned to a jabbering 11 year old talking my leg off. We piled up the clothes and headed to the dressing room. A size larger. My girl was growing. Her style was all her own. I was just along for the ride….and paying the tab.

“Can we go to Powell’s and just walk around for a long time?” Powell’s is one of the largest book stores in the world. Used books, new books, books on just about anything and everything draw Sydney and I back again and again. A reader’s paradise.

I followed. She lead. We walked the rows looking at the books for her age. Upon finding a book that she had read or a classmate read or was reading, she made sure that I was informed as to the worth of reading the book or passing it by. I saw books I had read or wanted to read. We talked about our strategy if a book in process was boring. Agreed….we moved on to something that answered that reading voice inside of us. We looked at the children picture books.

“I have this one at home. Can we look at it together?”

We looked for a couple of chairs; however, everyone seemed to be reading at Powell’s on this day. In the children’s section, we found two small chairs at a small table. Page by page we looked at the book and talked over mythology.

“How about something to drink?” I asked.

“Can we come back?”

We didn’t get to the art museum. A change in plans, her plans, took us to excitement over books, conversations that might not have happened elsewhere and a grandmother and grandchild once more spending time alone….time that reminded us how deeply we love one another.

This one on one with our grandchildren is a treasure. It offered opportunities for me to know this child better at age 11. It opened wider the door of trust and friendship.

Sometimes the best laid plans can turn into the best laid relationship.

And, yes, we ended the day in books.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Watch Your Step

Watch your step!

Every step as a parent, grandparent, is a step in learning for children. How I wish I could start the walk all over again. I would be more aware of where I was stepping.

I am an observer. Can’t remember a time I didn’t watch people. I took it all in, stored it. Some of what I learned certainly caused me to make poor decisions. Some of it has over the years taught me a great deal. Some of it I even tried to emulate.

Why do we have a clearer vision when we become grandparents? Does time slow down when we are with our grandchildren? Our steps are more careful or at least they should be. I find that whatever I do, I try to see through the eyes of the children around me. I was not so wise as a parent. Oh, the mistakes I made. So busy are we living life, finding ourselves, working on our careers that we don’t realize that we are like a TV that our children watch. We don’t censor our actions. We aren’t rated on what is acceptable and what is not.

Oh, how I wish I could do it all over again. Who are the children’s idols? Who do they emulate? What do we want them to learn about those things they don’t understand or cannot control? Do we try to see the world through their eyes? I certainly didn’t. In fact, I can honestly say that what I thought was good for me, I thought was good for my children as well. I could not pull myself back far enough to be unbiased.

Oh, well, we cannot go back. Maybe we can only get old in order to see what we should have done better. At least as we get older and make this realization, we can change. That old adage, “I’m too old to change”, is a myth my friends. We are never too old to change. We have the power to change ourselves and the world around us. We get the opportunity becoming better with the years, of learning to be better through the years.

What can you change about yourself to make life better for those around you? Are there changes that you refuse to make because ‘you just can’t change’? Don’t sell yourself short. The children are watching.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why A Blog?

Forgive me for being lax in writing daily. In these days leading up to my trip, I am buried in activity. Some of the activity is not what I want to do but what needs to be done. I will take my computer on my trip in hopes to write.

Why do I write my blog? What is this desire to put in words my thoughts, my feelings, my journey past and present? I could journal, well not really, my aching hands would rebel. Writing about my feelings is not something new. Since a child, I have written stories and written poetry. I kept a diary and later started numerous journals. So writing is nothing new to me. But why a blog?

Over the years I have been told to write a blog to help with my writing, to force me to write daily. If you are a writer, you write. My blog may have begun that way, but it has turned into another thing with a life of its own. I write not for me. I write not for you. I write because it is what I must do from a voice within me that has something to say. Something to say about this journey that I do not understand. A journey that has pain as well as joy, laughter as well as moments of utter confusion. When I began this blog, I realized, of course, that it would be about me and my journey, the good, the bad, and the lovely. I hoped that others would find themselves as well and share their journeys with me. For I believe that we are in this together.

What words fall onto the screen are not always easy to read. Sometimes the screen is seen through a veil of tears. Sometimes I cannot write quickly enough to capture the thoughts that pour from my mind. Sometimes my brain is trying to remember what was in it a few minutes before I sat at my computer. Why do I write this blog?

A way to find answers? I learn from my children, my grandchildren, from my friends and my family. Maybe this is a way for me to put it all in order that order might be found. From the mouths of babes, we learn that life is not about us, but about what we can learn from their simple point of view. We learn that they are not just small people riding the train, but they are in essence driving it. I am a better person because I learn from them and am not afraid of what I might find in myself from their words. They are the purity in life I cherish and adore.

Yesterday I sat with a young woman lying at deaths door. I could go on and on about what I felt and what I learned, but those thoughts are settling in and making themselves at home right now. What I can share is that I found my blog even more important to me. In talking with her sister, I shared how I believe that we are all connected, we are all part of an energy, a power that is not complete until we are all in tune, all aware of our connectivity. I found this awakening for me on my own in questioning my faith, my life. In finding it, I found that my journey is not about me, but about connecting with a world that normally just passes by or one we choose to ignore. I found that in this truth, others I did not know, were finding the same. All of a sudden I aware that many throughout the world were discovering this little truth that I thought was mine alone.

I write my blog because we are all on the same journey. What you bring to me, teaches me more about myself. What I bring to you is whatever you make of it. I write because I must. I express what I do because it echoes in my head until I empty it onto the ‘paper’. I was programmed with a brain full of information just as are you. Over the years, the information has been pulled out, that information that makes us create something that never was before, that information that brings new awareness, that information that invents and takes us to new dimensions. I write because I must.

Thank you for being part of this expression of thought. Life is not easy. Yet, in the pain, in the difficulty of everyday living, there is a beauty to be captured……captured in a journey of words.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Final Journey

Tomorrow morning I will sit with a young woman who is going to die any day. She has been battling cancer for the last six years. The battle is lost.

I know from sitting with my dying father how difficult it is to see life pass out of one you love. What words do you say in regards to this thing of dying? How can you ease their journey from this world to the next? Have you said all you want to say? Have you heard all you want to hear?

I sat by Dad’s bed holding his hand truly trying to absorb as much of him as I could through the cold hand resting in the warm, trying to give him life back from me. “I you, Daddy,” I said. I talked of how much he had taught me and about our walks in nature, fishing at the pond, all the memories of a little girl and her dad. I didn’t want to talk of death. But I could not ignore the elephant sitting on my lap. “I’ll always think of you. Some day we will be together again.”

“I know. I just don’t think I’ll make it through this,” he said weakly.

“Its okay, Daddy.”

I think that this dying thing teaches us about love. The older I get the more I understand a comfort in going to be with those I love. The more I realize what is important and what is not. In loss I embrace living.

Tomorrow I will sit with a young mother lying at death’s door. Hopefully, I can offer her comfort and a peaceful journey home. Maybe, just maybe, I will learn something more about this thing called living.

Friday, March 12, 2010

As A Child

What do we hear? What first reactions do we pass on to others? How confident are we in ourselves to be honest with ourselves?

I’m loving this counseling thing. Many things have been overcome over the years just out of determination to learn who I am. Flawless? Of course, not. Sincere? Most definitely. Honest? Trying to be in all ways.

As a child, I felt that every finger was pointed at me. Innocent comments I would take to heart. If attention was turned to me, I hid. Insecurity and shyness were tucked away surrounding me by a moat of self doubt.

“Okay, Syd, are you mad at me about something?” I asked.

“You said I had to wait until Gabby played her Christmas song. It’s not even Christmas,” she spouted. “You’re picking on me.”

“Well, let’s go over that conversation again. This is not about you.” I replied.

“You didn’t yell at her for taking my place at the piano,” she retorted.
“No, I didn’t. She had not had a turn, and there was nothing wrong with you giving her a little time. This isn’t about you so get over yourself,” I replied. “I will not argue over something that is just plain silly.”

Her mood changed. She actually started to have fun and moved from the piano to her easel.

Most fights with children I would guess stem from them defending themselves. Protecting themselves. Most times they don’t get past the beginning of what you say because they are lost in building a barrier of protection. I know. I’ve been there.

I love this counseling process I’m in now. I’m learning that not everything that happened in my life, not everything someone says that bothers me is about me. My guilt, my insecurity added bricks to the wall. A pretty big wall after 62 years. A silly wall.

A lesson I have learned over these years is to put everything into perspective. I keep what will help me grow, analyze that which I don’t understand and toss what is useless. I find I don’t need defenses because I am my worst enemy. My walls only acted to keep me in with my anger and frustrations. I could change.

My granddaughters are teaching me to listen, to be a better person. Their innocent comments and actions are real, more real than what I have piled into my life. They are my teachers. They make my life and my decisions smarter. They teach me to communicate and how to listen. They teach me to not judge and to be a friend.

A friend of mine was a high school counselor. We did social dramas together. My life with my husband and my kids often tore me apart. I was frustrated and at a loss. “So who are you mad at, Pam?” he would ask. “Why are you making it more than it is? Let it go.”

It takes work to change after all these years. But I love the fact that I am learning. I love the fact that not everything is about me. I love that I can have a different, healthier relationship to my children free of judgment and guilt.

I was always taught that we should go to God as a child. Indeed, they are the blessed, they are the innocent, they are the teachers of what we should be. Maybe in turn by learning from them, we can be better examples.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Fly On The Wall

The conversation began as soon as they walked out of the school. “Grammy, we all talked and don’t think Dad’s girlfriend is as good as Mom with him. It would be odd for him to ever marry her.” I tried to be unexpressive and invisible. “We like Mom better.”

Well, evidently all of the neighbor kids had voted and with them Mom was heads and shoulders above the competition. Not surprising. They want their family back. Somebody took it, and they want it back.

“She does all the cooking and cleaning. I don’t like the way that the Daddy doesn’t have to do anything but work and come home and sit on the sofa and watch TV.”

The observations of children. What are they learning? What am I learning? Sometimes we think the children are doing well and into the groove we set for them without really knowing what they feel at all. I know this was true for my children. It is true for my grandchildren. I know it because I am the fly on the wall.

Sometimes we wives make a huge mistake by not asking more of our husbands. Sure staying at home looks like a walk in the park for the man who goes to work every day. And, why should he learn to cook and focus full time on his kids if he has women who does it him? No woman wants to wait on her family. She would adore having her husband wait on her.

Two way street, ladies. Yet, we women seem to automatically accept the kitchen, the house, the children and the laundry as our tasks giving the heavy work to the men. What do the children see? What do the children learn? They see Mom work hard at home and give their time to them. Hm. It doesn’t mean that Dad doesn’t work hard, but he cuts himself off at the knees if he doesn’t embrace sharing the work with his wife and children. It can actually be fun and make a marriage better. Researchers are finding that marriages are failing more and more because the use of the words “we”, “us” and “our” are leaving the vocabulary of husbands and wives.

Many older women have told me that their husbands do not know how to do the laundry, to relate to their kids or to cook. They are tired after all of these years of waiting on a man who sits on his duff waiting for her to serve him, take care of him. She wants a partner.

I always wanted a strong man who would fight for me, adore me, be my best friend and work beside me. Hm. That didn’t work. Are there such men? Are there such heroes for young children to emulate and admire?

There are lessons to be learned. Lessons from the innocence of children’s conversations.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To Change or Not To Change

I seem to have gotten lost in my own blog this week. Ways to Feel Younger. Hm. Included in ways to stay younger is also the way to stay healthier. Physical health. Mental health. Not only do we feel younger, we live longer which means we are in essence younger. We have families who need to worry less about us and get more from us. We continue active lives contributing the whole, if we so choose.

Physical healt: No other way to say it, “I’m lazy.” I hate exercise. I’ve never been athletic. Long ago I did run and even walked daily. Over passing time, I’ve become very sedentary. Yes, I’ve always danced in the privacy of my own home, which I guess that isn’t so private now. I do walk with my grandchildren. I hate to walk alone and no longer live near my friends who have walked with me in the past. Now, that seems to encompass all of my excuses. So now that I have acknowledged the fact, it’s time to get myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. No one prevents me from improving my physical self except me.

My visits to the doctor are usually for aches and pains. Arthritis seems to be creeping into the joints. One leg is shorter than the other so the chiropractor yanks on it now and then. My body is showing age. But talking about it only makes it a constant in my mind. Ever been around people who cannot talk about anything but their health? I find when I do, that I try to compete with my aches and pains. The conversation ends, and I wonder what worthy topics we talked about…..and I feel worse physically than I did before the conversation.

Last week I made a decision. One that will change me, will make me healthier and will give me a better quality of life. I decided to go to a psychologist for counseling. For years I have struggled with relationships. I have experienced more anxiety as I have gotten older. I know that there are doors in my life that I’m afraid to open. It’s time.

Being a woman of words, my first visit consisted of shoveling those words out of the stockpile. Sadly as I removed the words more took their places. I guess it could be equated to confession or maybe confusion. I walked out feeling no better or worse for the experience. This was a good thing I was doing.

Yesterday was a different story. From the ‘get go’ (a term my Dad used often) the visit was different. I entered the office smiling and full of positive energy and was brought to my knees in a few minutes. Not much was said but tears ran down my cheeks and would not stop. I had no idea where these feelings of fear were coming from and knew that I could not run from them. Doors needed to be opened. I decided at that point that everyone should have the experience. An elephant was slowly being lifted from my shoulders and a new me was evolving. This was a healthy decision.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves. On the birthday of a friend, I asked, “So how does it feel?” I asked teasingly.

“I’ve never been 60 before,” he answered. “Might as well see what happens.”
What do we take into our later years? Baggage from the past? Poor health? Pain? Loss?

What do we do to make our lives better? We have a choice. We are not too old to change. We are old enough to make changes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Shhhhhhhhh

Shhhhhhh. The kitty is sleeping. Ah, I lied. The kitty isn’t sleeping. A pussy willow tree is coming out into fuzzy bud just peeking out of its winter bed.

I walked around the lake. Everyone around here knows about Commonwealth Lake with ducks and geese squawking and chasing one another. Bicycled riders dodging walker on the path. Dogs greeting one another or trying to get past their owners to that other growling piece of fur.

Shhhhh. I want all of them to go away.

Being alone in the midst of noise is a learned talent. I have found over the years that the places I desire to absorb and enjoy are often overrun by tourists, children or traffic. The zoo, Japanese Gardens, Rose Gardens, Cannon Beach even Ft. Vancouver all attract pedestrians, those who invade my space.

Shhhhh. I want all of them be quiet and go away.

I long to sit in the Pittock Mansion alone listening for the ghosts to tell me their story. I want to sit looking over Mt. St. Helens without a tour guide or other visitors oohing and aahing. How about a quiet campfire on the spot where Lewis and Clark talked over their plans?

Shhhhh. I want them all to go somewhere else and leave me alone. Literally, alone.

I don’t know when this desire captured me, this feeling of needing my space. Perhaps when I stood with my grandchildren watching an owl close by sitting on a limb looking back at us. Maybe it happened when I was walking the beach. It could be when I touched a pussy willow sitting at the end of a limb, the first peek at spring.

Shhhh. I want them to stop and look and listen, too.

I was taught at an early age to go slowly, to observe. To look at the sky as well as the ground. To peek under leaves and to listen to sounds beyond those which are human made. Maybe I want to capture that again, to be that much closer to the earth and my place in it. Maybe I want humanity to allow my grandchildren to find their place as part of the earth and the earth as part of them. I want the world to get on board. Understand what we have been given and what must be cherished and protected.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I want them to wake up and truly smell the roses.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ways to Feel Younger

Ways to feel younger by Pamela Loxley Drake:

Change your hair. Find a do that is you….a new you. Get away from the old standby. Try a new color. Mom always said that old women should not wear long hair. Heck, why not? Up dos, pony tails, fun hair accessories. Why should we miss it because we are older? Contrary to what we believed when we were younger, ‘hair does grow out if you don’t like what you have’.

Update your wardrobe. Try new styles that really aren’t you. You just might find more fun in your clothing and in your life. My mother always said that you shouldn’t wear any colors but navy blue or black after 40. I try to find a new me each season looking at new colors and updated styles. I still can’t wear yellow.

Don’t just babysit. Interact with your grandkids and have a blast. Sit on the floor for awhile. Sure you might be creaky and hurt a little, but the kids appreciate that you try. Try one of their concoctions that may consist of orange juice, ice cream and blue berries with a little soda mixed in or some secret ingredient. A sip goes a long way when it comes time for them to try a new food for you.

Take a walk and let your grandkids show you things and explain them. Make it a game.

Have lunch with your grandchild at their school. The seats are crowded, the kids are noisy, the food is tolerable, the memories you make and the new young friends you meet are lifetime treasures.

Omit the obits. Avoid the obituary page of the newspaper. If you must read it, just skim for names you know, but don’t linger. It’s depressing and sad. Look at the live people and let the others sleep in peace.

Have a chocolate stash in case of boredom. One piece will make your day.

Meet a friend for bowling. I can’t bowl but the laughs and giggles are well worth the challenge.

Try something new. Learn to paint, go on a bird watch, join Habitat for Humanity, take up a new instrument. I am trying to add to the instruments in my home. I have a piano and a uke. My son has my guitar. I want a singing bowl, an Indian pipe and a drum next. The girls and I can make our own music or join in with a CD. No talent needed. Just the desire and fun.

Give something away to someone who admires it. I have a bookstand that I use whenever I read while eating. On my last visit to a Chinese restaurant, the waiter told me that after seeing the bookstand the last time I was there, he looked online for one. On my way out, I gave him mine.

Try a new recipe. Set out plate of munchies appetizers just for you. Who needs a party to have fun! Take your dinner to a park or nature trail.

Go to the bookstore with a good book and sit among the readers. Grab a coffee, get a soft chair and enjoy.

Have a facial or a massage or a pedicure/manicure or all of the aforementioned, definitely my recommendation.

Take a dance class. Go alone or with someone you love.

Try a new sport. Tennis, swimming, bowling, whatever might just tug at that inner child.

Take a walk at the zoo…..alone.

Take up woodworking, throw pottery. Keep increasing your interests in something new.

Be creative. Don’t pigeon hole yourself because of your age. The opportunities in life are limitless.

I am ageless. How about you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Dreaded Chuck E Cheese

“Mom, can you pick up the girls today at the sitters and bring them home?” my ill daughter asked.

“Of course, Honey,” I answered. Not in the plans but a chance to see the girls and check on my daughter at the same time.

“Grammy, can we go to Chuck E. Cheese? “ Sydney yelled as my granddaughters and their friend Heather ran to the car. The dreaded words ‘Chuck E. Cheese’. Not only was it a waste of money, but it involved sitting in a noisy room full of out-of-control children trying to win junk. I shivered at the thought.

“Well, I have plans tonight (faces fell) but I will call and change them.”
Sydney and Heather will be leaving their elementary school next year for middle school. This was the last time they would participate as students in the school fund raiser at CEC. Of course, we would go.

One of the mothers and I sat visiting while munching pizza. Continuous interruptions of “Can I buy more coins, Grammy?” were added to by my duties of watching over the salad plates for the bottomless salad bar and tracking tickets they won. The life of a Grandma can be tedious at times.
Being involved with my grandchildren, going to their class parties, waiting for them after school with young mothers, going to their games and events, gives me a connection with the families of their friends, the kids’ community. When the girls come home talking about their friends, they know that I am already on board via those connections. They are eager to share information, because I am a very active part of their lives.

I don’t think I was so aware of what my children were feeling at that age. Maybe I was more selfish with my life. In lieu of changing my plans back then, I would probably have tried to find another parent who was going to the fund raiser. I think I’ve come a long way and finally have my priorities straight.

There was no hesitation in the girls asking to go and none in return in my response. They knew that I was changing my plans for them and apologized for the inconvenience. They would have been disappointed had I not taken them but would have accepted it. I would have been disappointed in me had I not changed my plans. I was a lesson to learn.

Mid life seems to give us a feeling of “my turn”. I remember it well. I was trying to pull my life together. I knew that happiness was waiting for me somewhere. I just wanted to have a life after years of being a wife and mother. Who the heck was I???? While I was busy looking for me, who was helping my children with “their turn”?

Then one day I had an awakening. My kids were tossed into a life absent of a father with a mother at loose ends. I had given these children life, not just by birth but also by responsibility and love. These children deserved more than what these two confused parents were giving to them. My children became my friends. We interacted, we talked, we played. I learned that life wasn’t about what I could get for me, but what I could give to my family. I found myself when I stopped looking for me.

We grandparents have a real advantage. Now we can watch and listen. Hopefully, we have learned that when all else seems to pass from our lives as we age, our families remain. What better gift can we leave for our families than what we leave behind.

Chuck E. and I managed the evening together. The girls stopped by the table often. Their friends came to give me hugs. Parents paused to visit. Yes, I changed my plans. I would do it again in a minute.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Going...going...gone

“Going, going, going…..” the auctioneer cried. My husband and I sat on the edge of our seats.

“Grammy, we’re having a tea party,” Sydney called to me. The small, antique ice cream parlor table and chairs had found its way to the living room.

The girls set the table and filled the tea pot with lemonade in lieu of tea. Instead of tea cakes, Girl Scout Cookies were served. Knees knocked beneath the table as everyone jostled to get settled. ‘Tea’ was served and manners echoed those of a British tea room. After all this time, the girls still held dear this once routine. Golly, this morning ritual had been in place since Sydney was old enough to trust with a ceramic tea cup. After a long period of gathering dust, the table set was moved upstairs to my bedroom where the girls occasionally played with dolls from my childhood. But on this day, they carried the set downstairs, pulled out the ‘china’ and stepped back in time.

Every week antique auctions were held at the armory. I had just begun my love of antiques after finding a few pieces on the old farm in Ohio before moving to Wisconsin. Usually we focused on pottery or pieces of furniture, but something was new in the Drake household. Her name was Stacey. When the small ice cream parlor set was placed on the auction table, I knew I had to have it for my newborn daughter. The wooden seats and table top were worn. One chair was even missing a seat. The metal was rusted, yet potential was written all over it.

I offered the set to my daughter when my first granddaughter was born. She wanted a new set instead of old. Had she taken it, I would have missed many wonderful conversations, donuts and milk shared with my granddaughters over the years with our morning tradition on the little chairs.

“Can I have the tea set some day, Grammy?” asked Gabby. Hm. I looked for another tea set but could not find one as sweet as the set we were using. My old tea set was dated and neither girl wanted to use it for our morning ritual.

“How about the set going to the next little girl who joins our family? Uncle and Auntie Lisa might have a little girl who would love to use it when she comes to visit, and some day your little girls could use it as well,” replied fast thinking Grams.

What traditions do we give our grandchildren? What of us will they pull up from the past that brings a smile to the faces and a tradition to their family as well?

“Going, going, gone to the young couple with the new baby and their future generations.” Sweet. So sweet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winging This Grandma Thing

So I picked her up from her day of shadowing a 6th grader at her new school. This isn’t just any school. It is the Arts School, a district magnet school.

The night before my daughter called asking me to talk to my granddaughter. She was in tears at 11pm worrying about the separation from her friends who were going to attend the local middle school. Sobs greeted me on the other end of the line.

“Honey, there isn’t anything that can’t be undone if you don’t like it,” I said, just wondering if I was saying the correct thing. “You are a brave girl. There is nothing to worry about.” Yeah, sure. I would have been terrified at her age.

“Can you tell me what you are afraid of, Honey?” I asked.

A sob was sucked in, “My friends. I won’t be able to see my friends.”
After we finished our conversation, or maybe after I finished talking and she finished listening, I had a stomach ache. All of my insecurities at that age whapped me between the eyes making me want to go pick her up and flee the entire school scene.

I didn’t like school when I was a kid. Shyness and lack of confidence continually tried to defeat me from beginning to end. Yet, I did survive despite my lacking of support from home. I didn’t have a grandma call. I didn’t have a grandma to listen to me when my parents did not. I didn’t have a grandma to cheer me on and to wipe my tears.

I pulled into the school parking lot nervous as to what would greet me at the counseling office where I was to pick her up. Firmly I planted a big smile on my face and entered the doors of potential doom with confidence and determination to support this dear child in whatever way was needed of me.

“So how did it go?” I asked. The dialogue was one-sided for most of the drive home. One class had a teacher missing and sub who didn’t teach much. Another had a dance teacher in a meeting and the kids in limbo. She liked art class where she actually got to draw. Lunch was great as she got to sit in the hall and eat with the other kids.

“Are you sure you want to go here?” I asked.

Her best reply appeared on Facebook: ‘I did have a great day it was so much fun I wish there was no such thing a summer... sorta.’

Ah, this Grammy thing seems to be working pretty well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Twins ages 8 and 62

“See, Grammy, we are just alike.”

I noticed this comment from Gabby more and more after the wedding although the comment had crept into the conversation before.

“Grammy, we look alike. Everyone says so.”

At her age, I was a rather homely kid. My sisters were telling me to stand up straight and suck in my stomach. My hair was full of cowlicks. I didn’t have Gabby’s sweet little nose or round face. But I’ll take the compliment.

Friday night the comparison loop continued to circle. Gabby discovered that we sleep on the same side of the bed, we both like books about fairies, we love nature. The list went on and on. The little detective was analyzing my every move adding the sameness we shared to a long list of ‘maybe we are twins’.

It’s a little scary being a role model for a child, especially one you cherish. Before I knew it, I was looking at both girls wondering what likes we shared. Were they only picking up the good parts of me? Were they also picking up the weaker side of me?

I’m not sure I like having little eyes analyzing my every move. As a matter of record, I am not perfect. In fact, I’ll go a step further in stating, “I am imperfect.” Yet, in the eyes of this eight-year-old, we are alike. Maybe she is just becoming more and more aware of personalities and preferences. Or is she looking for confirmation of who she is?

I would like to be like her. She has a warm heart and a zest for life. Gabby is fearless, sensitive, silly, beautiful. She is a role model for everyone. I’m wondering if she is looking for the sameness in the two of us as a way to find herself. If we are the same, then our relationship has not changed in spite of the changes in her life over the last year. I represent stability. I let her know that she is still my Gabby, loved and is not changed. Or maybe is just self-awareness that has brought on this analysis. Whatever it is, I have a responsibility to make these things we have in common special and positive for her.

Maybe in discovering our sameness, we discover our uniqueness. Perhaps in this dialogue we can be stronger. Our common likes, common interests take us to new adventures.

“Grammy, we both have dirty blonde hair.” Yes, we do, Gabby. Yes, we do.