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.

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