Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Winging It

“Grammy, what is an on-i-on?” asked Gabby.

“What?” I asked once more scrambling to get a handle on a question that came out of nowhere.

“An on-i-on?” she repeated.

The grandmother’s handbook must have a section on translation. I remember when my daughter would ask for more skapetti. Of course, sitting at the table looking at the evening meal, I knew that she meant spaghetti. Maybe I’m on the page. I’ll check the index for ‘adorable pronunciations.

Okay, I lied. I don’t have a handbook for grandmas. No, I’m writing my own handbook each day I spend with my grandchildren as I did with my own children. If I had such a book, the intro would include: At no time show fear or doubt. They can detect phonies. Wing it whenever possible.

“On-i-on.” I replied looking around the store. Of course, on paper, it is evident what she is asking, but standing at the coffee cart, I was drawing a blank.

“There, Grammy. On that sign.”

She has learned to divide words to sound them out. Well, duh, Grams, onion, onion!

Redeeming myself, I said, “You are awesome. I never looked at the spelling that way. Good job!”

Once in awhile I still say “refrigalator” just to remind myself of the once innocent moments of my now 38 year old daughter. I chuckle remembering the small, curly headed sweetheart. Now her daughter has given me a new chuckle. I will never look at an onion and not think of her, probably repeating ‘on-i-on’.

This winging it gets more difficult as the grandchild grows. The questions are deeper with more meaning. The answers must be honest and appropriate for the child’s age. Sometimes the questions are silent, and we grandparents must read them anyway finding a way to create dialogue. Those moments are equally as memorable and sometimes very difficult.

Now I try to find ways to communicate with my grown child. The separation began with my divorce 28 years ago and never quite healed. She never knew the questions to ask. I had no answers, only pain. Maybe I will do better this time with her children. I’m still winging it.

Maybe the next time you make skapetti, going to the refrigalator to get an on-i-on, you will remember to add your pages to the grandparenting handbook. Each page is important, you know.

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