She Might Be a Grandma…

The other day I was asked if I had a “child” or a “grandchild” attending school. This was asked to my face by a man in his 50’s.

I am a 37 year old mom with three small children so now I am extremely self-conscious that I perhaps really do look like a grandma. I understand that logistically you can actually be a grandma at the age of 37 if you had your children at a young age and then your children also had their children at a young age. But I’m assuming that even if you truly are a grandma at the age of 37 you are probably hoping people wouldn’t guess it by just looking at you.

Okay, so I do look a little tired!

Okay, so I do look a little tired!

So I am creating a list of items to help people distinguish between a grandma and a mom so more people do not make the same mistake that the man I encountered the other day did.

She might be a Grandma if:

  • She has used, crumpled tissues stuck in both arm sleeves and her bra and is willing to whip one out and use it on anyone with a  runny nose she comes across.
  • Her pockets are full with warm butterscotch candies that she doles out to anyone with a sad look on their face
  • She utters, “Just give that baby another cookie. It doesn’t matter if he has already had 5.”
  • She is wearing White Shoulders perfume
  • If she doesn’t wear perfume she will smell like a mix of Ben-Gay and fresh baked cookies.
  • She is carrying a bottle of Pepto Bismol in her purse and takes it out every so often and has a swig.
  • She is a walking pharmacy. If you have any sort of ailment she can probably dig through her purse and produce something that will cure it. Never mind the expiration date.
  • She shakes her head at the prices of things and mutters “I remember when milk was only a nickel a gallon.
  • She talks about Pat and Vanna from Wheel of Fortune like they are her best friends.
  • When she tells you your bloomers are showing you don’t feel embarrassed at all…you feel looked after and loved.

So these are a few things that will indicate that you are dealing with a grandma. Admittedly, I actually do some of these things. So truly the best rule to follow when you don’t know whether to address someone as a mom or grandma is just to wait until a child approaches them. If the kid starts shouting, “Grandma, Grandma…Mom said I can’t have any candy” and you then witness the lady slip 3 warm butterscotch candies into the child’s hand….then you have my permission to address her as Grandma too. Otherwise, you might just give a very tired mom a complex!

This is the mental image I have of myself now!

This is the mental image I have of myself now!

Reading to the Ladies

The summer is coming to an end and school will start on Tuesday. Along with this will come an end to the daily “reading to the ladies.”

In our neighborhood there are two elderly ladies who have houses side by side. One of them is 89 and the other is 96. They are sisters. The 96 year old has lived here for 70 years. She was widowed in her 40’s and has lived alone since then. The 89 year old has never been married and spent her adult life living in Chicago until 20 years ago when her sister with whom she always lived with died and she came back to the area to be near family.

When we moved here 8 years ago both of the ladies were in fine shape. They mowed their own lawns, tended to their gardens and canned large amounts of vegetables. Through the years their health has deteriorated and we have had to wait patiently for them to return home several times from extended hospital stays. Today they both still live at home but have caretakers who live with them and tend to their care and the housework.

These are two of the sweetest ladies I know. They have watched our family grow and have become a part of our family. We visit with each other and help each other out. My kids think of them as extra grandmas.

This past March, when visiting with the 96 year old, she told me how lonely she had been. All she can do at this point is really just sit and watch television.

That’s when I got an idea. My 7 year old daughter, Iris, loves to read. Being in 1st grade at the time, she didn’t have any homework after school. My kids loved visiting the neighbors but didn’t go every day so I established “reading to the ladies.” Once the 89 year old got wind of the kids reading to her sister she wanted in on it too!

Iris and my 5 year old son, Bency would go to the ladies’ houses every day after school and read to them a few short stories, visit with them and then come home. This has continued throughout the summer almost every day. Iris enjoys doing this because she LOVES reading to people and the ladies enjoy the company of the kids. The caretaker for the 89 year old is a Polish immigrant, speaks broken English, loves to cook and loves my kids too. She is always making up homemade cookies for the kids and fresh popped popcorn on the stove to send home with them after they are done reading!

Once school starts, I’m sure there will be homework so they will only be able to go on the weekends. I’m going to try to keep this going as long as I can because the summer of “reading to the ladies” will always be a wonderful memory!

The Polish caretaker, the 89 year old, the 96 year old, and my husband Alex at one of my kid’s birthday parties