At the beginning of the week, I corrected a new recipe. I don’t cook every night. In fact, I cook less than the average mother. But when I go to the trouble of trying something new, I expect my family to dive in and enjoy it (whether it’s enjoyable or not!)
My youngest son, however, refused to eat my new best recipe ever: beef quesadillas. He said he hated beans and went so far as to ask me to change the whole recipe, just for him. I refused. He ended up eating macaroni and cheese, a banana, and a handful of carrots (I didn’t suggest or make that weird concoction, it was all him.)
A day later, my mother made her first pot of chili, which is an autumn delicacy in our family. She invited us to dinner. She had been at my house the night before and witnessed the whole “bean fiasco” with my youngest son. It was actually the furthest thing on my mind until my sweet mother said those words, “Don’t worry, I’ll pick the beans from Waylan’s chili.”
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My first thought was that she was joking. She assured me no. Waylan it’s her precious boy and she’ll do anything to accommodate her nine-year-old’s culinary preferences. My head almost exploded! Was it the same woman who fed me meatloaf, liver – and my fatal enemy –canned corn as a child? Yes the very same woman!
I sat several nights at the kitchen table praying that some catastrophic natural disaster would save me from the heavily sweetened and buttery canned corn that I hated with a passion. I don’t know how many nights I stuffed the horrible pits in my cheeks, looking like a human chipmunk, for hours after dinner. The more they dissolved in my mouth, the sicker I felt. It never occurred to me to spit them out, that would be dishonest! And if I was anything, I was honest. So, I just suffered in silence, mainly because I couldn’t open my mouth for fear that the corn would fall out and I would have to clean it.
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Sure enough, on the night of the chili dinner, my mom offered to make my youngest spaghettiOs and Vienna sausages a treat for a nine-year-old boy. Where were my SpaghettiOs when corn was served thirty years ago? Where were my Vienna sausages when the liver and onions on my plate stared at me as my worst enemy, making me bite?
(Side note: I happen to like liver and onions now, but shh, don’t tell my mom! In fact, she already knows that. And she pride herself to make all things possible.)
After that evening, I thought long and hard about the differences between mothers and grandmothers. Fathers and grandfathers. Parents and grandparents. I have the joyful blessing of being a mother of two sons; Liam, 12, and Waylan, 9. I was my parents’ only child. Looking back, I see so many changes in the way they raised me and how they love my two children.
And I have to say they were born for rock to be the best grandparents ever.
It’s strange, really. I take great pleasure in knowing that my children are rightly spoiled by their grandparents. After all, isn’t that the job of a good grandparent? Spoil the grandkids and then send them home to mom and dad for the less desirable parts of parenthood?
My grandparents did the exact same thing for me. They really made me feel like the most special princess in the whole universe. When I stayed with them for a week every summer, they satisfied my somewhat fussy appetite with frozen Red Baron pizza, ice cream after every meal, and the most delicious stuff we didn’t have at home…yogurt !
My grandparents even let me taste their strong black coffee like jet fuel, adding a little milk so as not to overpower my granddaughter. My parents, who weren’t coffee drinkers at all, didn’t seem to mind. They just shook their heads at all the indulgences and thought about how they were going to “un-grandparent me” after the blissful week I had every summer as a kid.
While certain gestures of my parents towards their grandsons have me openly shaking my head or maybe even screaming…’Really?!’, I’m forever grateful that they finally earned their beloved badge of grammys and Pops. My mom talks about a big game, saying she’s a “mean grammy” threatening these boys within an inch of their lives. However, when the boys are asked how they feel about their Grammys, it’s all smiles, puffs of laughter and funny stories about the magic they do when strength to spend time together.
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My dad, a quiet man who prefers to spend time outdoors tweaking his garden or tidying up his many endless treasure sheds, loves nothing more than working side by side with my sons. Whether it’s picking produce in the garden, mowing the field with the tractor, or fishing in their pond in the field, Dad is at his peak with two young boys ready to do “man stuff” .
Even though he loves his only daughter, I wasn’t exactly a tomboy growing up. I was fired from flashlight duty at a young age because I was easily distracted and always had to go to the bathroom. I once ruined a hunting trip because I tried to free the young quail he was using to train his young bird dog. I ruined his purebred bird dogs from hunting because I made pets of them.
Believe me, my father waited a long time to finally have an audience eager for interest and joy in his many male hobbies. And it’s one of my greatest joys to watch my favorite men bond over things I’ll never quite understand.
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Although there are times when I shake my head at my parents’ bizarre treatment of my children, the vast majority of the time I shake my head with a half-smile and wipe my eyes trying to hold back the tears that run down my cheeks. The joy I feel knowing that my two sons are undeniably spoiled with love, food, gifts, candy – and whatever else this world has to offer – is so completeness and gratitude. It’s hard to put into words.
Every child deserves an older family member or friend – whether it’s a grandparent, great aunt, uncle or neighbor who takes a special interest in them – who allows them to be exactly who they are. . Children need to be spoiled. They need to feel safe and loved beyond measure.
Grandparents have definitely earned the right to revel in the best parts of parenthood, saving some of the toughest parts for those trying on kids they paid penance to years ago.
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One day I hope to hold my son’s babies in my arms and glory in the many ways I will spoil them with the love of my grandparents. After all, I am learning from the absolute best – my own parents. grammys and Pops.
No training needed, they got this role after years of patiently waiting (and probably wondering if it would ever happen). And I must say they were born for rock to be the best grandparents ever.
Ask my two sons.