Friday, March 20, 2009

Lime Sucking, Penny Counting Grandmothers

My daughter was excited to read the wedding invitation we received from a friend this morning.

"Yeah! I love weddings," she said. "When are we going?" She scanned the invite.

"Uh. You're not going," I deflated her balloon.

"What?!?" she gawked at me like only a tweenie baby can do.

"It's only for grown-ups," I lied smoothly.

"Great. Who's it going to be?" she demanded, brow neatly furrowed.

"It's Karen. My friend, Karen. She's getting married,"

I looked at her oddly. She was, after all, holding the invitation in her hands. It seemed rather obvious who was getting married.

"No, no," she humpfed impatiently, "Who's watching us?"

"Oh!" I got it. Then, thinking I could do the whole frown upside down thing, I said, "Pick a grandmother. You decide. Gamma or Iggy?" I was smiling, pleased with myself. Short lived.

"Jeez!" She didn't look happy. Minor stomping and huffing followed. Not enough to get in trouble, but enough to get the piont across.

"Why does it always have to be the lime sucking, penny counting grandmothers?? Why can't it be someone else?"

I tried to contain myself, as all good parents do when their children say something insolent. But honestly, this took me so off my guard. Plus - I couldn't quickly assess whether describing the grandmothers as either lime sucking or penny counting was actually bad.

So I stood there with, what I can only imagine was, a priceless expression on my face - mildly preterbed but mostly dying to laugh out loud.

Here's what came out: "What?" guffaw/snort. "What do you mean by that, Lucy?" sternness recaptured and then again swallowed by a gurgly noise.

Whereafter my lovely daughter, who in every respect is delicious and delightful, went on to describe the goings-on at my house when either one or the other grandmother babysits. Stories of indoor tag and marathon food fests were peppered with annecdotes concerning the hunt for hidden limes (which explains the citrus smell in the dining room) and creative math lessons using the coins in my coin bowl (which explains the otherwise unexplainable lack of any food particles or paper clips in said bowl). I wasn't totally surprised, but it was a little stalling to hear the details. And while my son was enthusiastically backing up her rendition, Lucy's telling left no doubt that she was mildly, to say the least, displeased with the idea of another episode of the Lime Sucking, Penny Counting Grandmothers Gone Wild.

As an aside, I was also bemused, thinking of the last few lines in the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat In The Hat, where the narrator asks whether you'd tell your mother the truth about what had gone on while she was away at work. As if a gal who would leave a fish in charge of her small children should have anything to complain about... but I digress.

After she completed her rant, I racked my brain for the right thing to say. What does one say to a well-rehearsed complaint about lime-sucking, penny-counting grandmothers? I believe my first reaction was, "Uhhhhh," followed by, "so which one do you want?"

And therein, my friends, was the key to successful parenting. I did the best I could with what I had. When confronted with a problem, I gathered as much information as I could, I allowed my child the opportunity to express herself, and then I firmly took hold of the situation, redirected my child toward the path leading to good health and happiness, and didn't look back.

Or at least, that's what I told myself I was doing while I waited for my blinking, disgusted child to answer.

Score! She bought it. I regained control of the situation and began humming 'we are the champions' in my head. She was left with no choice but to shrug and move on.

My victory in full-view, I measured the future. I'm sure these conversations are going to become lengthier and more complex as the years move us away from tween to teen and beyond. Humming will probably become grumbling and, knowing me, will eventually lead to significant fuming.

But for now, the simplicity of it all was perfectly satisfying. I felt like a good mommy all morning and there's no better feeling than that.

As for the grandmothers - which one did she pick? The penny-counter. Apparently the lime-sucker ran her ragged last time and she wanted to take it easy. The more I think about it, the more I'm considering getting a fish.

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