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Sunday, January 15, 2017

What's New For Grandparents - or Thank God I'm Not A Millennial

So. The What's New For Grandparents class turned out to be something else. Of course, I'm interested in all things new baby, but when I was expecting I just figured the grandparents would kiss and spoil my baby and I would take care of the rest. Baby would sleep, eat, get bathed, be snuggled and grow bigger, stronger, and more fun.  I hadn't planned on asking them advice. I already thought I knew most everything and I had a book that told me the rest. Still and all - I'm enough of a woman - and librarian - to be curious about all the juicy details of reproduction. BD, otoh, is squeamish even about his own body - He giggled and shied away like a nervous colt and I mercifully released him from participation. Instead I sent him out to pick a new dishwasher for me. I don't have an opinion - I just want one that works with the fewest digital components. 

It turned out that, of us first time grandparents, all but one were parents of the father-to-be and, except for me, they were all having 'issues' with their D-i-Ls. It ended up being more of a counseling class for grandparents who felt rejected. I understand rejection. Once upon a time - long ago - with someone else - I was an unwelcomce MiL. If you know my story you know I felt sympathetic. But I hope I would not have read out a detailed list (including the make, model and mileage of the car) of ThingsIHadGivenThoseUngratefulChildren. Mind now - I felt plenty of resentment and hurt once upon a different time - but I hope I wouldn't have shared it with strangers. 

Then again - strangers are the safe people to share grousing with. Friends stick around to remind you of what you said. Ha! so I can share it with y'all now. 

Psyche. Just kidding. 

Even the more decorous paternal grandparents hinted at the sense of being second class GPs around their DiL and that weakling son of theirs who was obviously UnderHerThumb. It made me doubly grateful for my DiL and also for how much love poured all over LD from every direction, all those years ago. Both Grandma and Grandmother were too busy loving him to compete with each other - or if they felt competitive - they never ever showed it to me. We just all adored that little cutie-pie and everybody shared. 

But ya know - even as I am typing this I can remember the covetousness exhibited by my mother when my sister had her little boy .... and so it's good to remember that family dynamics, while similar, are always unique to the individuals involved. Mama would never have been covetous around me because a. I shared and b. BD would have frozen her out with his aura - unintentionally, I am sure, but ... no way. No way would Mama have presumed anything around my husband. Whereas my sister's husband? He was always a child to her. A pretty child, but still a child. 

To repeat what my oft' quoted cousin KP says "If ya want ta know the EFF word I'll tell ya! It's FAMILY!" 

Most of all, it would never occur to me that my 40 year old son and his very serious, strong and smart wife need unsolicited advice from me. Even when I tell them stories about TheOldDays - they're just intended to be stories - and I made sure to tell them that, when we had dinner last night, just to be sure. Besides. What do I know about raising babies. I had a free range baby who was sick only twice before he started school. The first time was my fault - at 4 weeks, on the hottest day of the hottest summer in the whole decade of the 1970s I sat on the riverbank dipping my little month old baby's toes in the warm water. Suddenly a wave slapped him in the face - he took a huge gulp of Rappahannock River Water (think "swamp water" from the old Debbie Reynolds movie "Tammy") and there began the worst 24 hours I ever had to sweat through. Of course his fever went through the roof. Of course we didn't have telephone. It was a Saturday night and his little body fought it off in 24 hours. Obviously God had other plans for him than that of Victim Of Stoopid Mother. He was't sick again till he was three, when I could explain to him that pretty soon he would throw up and then he'd feel better. Which he did. But I stayed up all night anyway just so I could talk like the other mothers about how hard it was to be a mother. How demanding. How much it took out of me. Which it never was and never did. Of course, even as I was doing that I knew it was all a pose and what I ended up bragging about was what a big fake I was. He was never sick. And the accidents he had were all things we could fix - except, of course, the ones he didn't tell me about - like - the broken nose he got jumping off the highway bridge with his older cousins who I would have killed had I known. He was smart to not tell me. 

The rest of the class was about SIDS (so durn scary who'd even chose to have children nowadays?) and other ailments - so I was doubly glad BD wasn't there. I never had to syringe mucus out of a tiny nostril. Thank you, merciful heavens. He only had that one fever and it was gone in 24 hours so I never had to take his temperature. I can't remember if there was a big deal about bathing him when he was new - I'm sure I did. When he got bigger he took a bath with me. And he was mostly naked anyway because he was a summer baby. He slept on his tummy because I worried if he spit up he'd drown. Turns out that's a big no-no. Breast feeding was a no-brainer. I don't think there even was a pediatrician in the county back then and we were too poor to drive to the city for one - besides he was never sick - but the old-timey family doctor who gave him his immunization shots told me "Hmmm. Bright eyes. Good skin. Growing nicely. Keep it up". He also charged me $10 a visit when I told him we didn't have insurance - in fact, every doctor we ever had did that - cut the bill to what I could pay. 

So - ya know - I couldn't give advice if I was asked for it. Like Topsy - my baby just growed. 

But it was still fun to look at baby things and dream about a baby to love and be reminded that if I just ask the parents what they'd like, they're going to tell me. And I don't have any problem asking. Which I did at dinner. Yes. We are wanted at the hospital after they've had a little time to themselves. No we don't need to come stay after she comes home. (wasn't planning on it anyway) Son has paternity leave. What does she need me for? Except to come agree with her that this is the most beautiful baby that ever graced the earth and of course I see the sunbeams shooting out from the golden halo around her head and hear the heavenly chorus singing in the background - and then go home so they can both have a nap. 

Dr.'s tell her the due date is today but she tells me she thinks it's closer to the 20th. Baby gave me a little kick last night and we are all just full of joy and anticipation. I've never seen my son look so happy. Life is good. 

Glad I am an old lady. 

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