When I became a mother at the age of 23, I was clueless about how to do it right. The stork made the delivery of a bouncing baby boy, but forgot to leave The Official Handbook on How to Rear Children Properly. Fortunately, I had my own mother, a big sister and a housekeeper who knew the ropes. And steadily I learned by doing.
When I became a grandmother at the age of 60, I knew exactly how to do it right. It’s a piece of cake because the rules are simple – anything he wants is fine with me. If I were smart, I'd get busy and pen-to-publish The Official Granny Handbook. Remember when Lisa Birnbach made a fortune with the best seller The Official Preppy Handbook? Well, Grands could easily get a kick out of my unique set of how-to-get-it rights, and what-not-to-even considers. I would subtitle the guidebook: “Grands Earn Entitlement to Spoil with Free Abandon.” And, well, duh? The world knows that’s just what we’re here for. Right? Right.
It's time for us to get up-close and personal for a minute. My grand experience today is with a precious 4-year-old named William Lachlan McIntosh of Savannah. He's named after his ancestor who goes down in history as the man who dueled with Button Gwinnett and won. Gwinnett perished, WLM survived – but hey! It was the way they settled things back in those days. It was a matter of honor. Pretty notable if I do say so myself. I am not the primary caregiver of this angel-boy. I am the GRANDMOTHER. This title comes with certain inalienable rights to dote, treat, entertain and mollycoddle unmercifully.
Once the call comes that the birth of said grandchild has occurred, it’s time to select the perfect name. Not for the child, silly, that’s totally up to the parents. The name for yourself. The one that will signify you as the official spoiler and inspiration-eternal which eventually insures your special place in the heart of said child.
The possibilities are endless, and often the name develops from the child’s choice. Let me name a few: Nana, Meme, Mamaw, Gigi, Gaga, Mee Maw, Bubbie, etc. I chose the name Mur – Irish for mother, which is what MY mother called HER mother, Archie Gannon Kallmeyer. Sentimental, yes, plus I figured it would be pretty easy for a tiny tot to pronounce. But Liam took it and combined it with my other favorite, Granny, until it evolved into GrannyMur. I love it. He could have called me PoohPooh, and I would have felt honored. But thankfully I’m GrannyMur, and my husband, Leon, is Old Timer.
Now that we’ve got that straight, let me share with you a few of the rules that guide the agenda while staying at Camp GrannyMur:
Upon arrival of your little darling, open your arms and smother him with kisses.
If he wants chocolate milk on his Cheerios, and you only have 2% white organic -- well, get out the Hershey's syrup, which is a staple in your cabinet. Come on now -- that's why you bought it in the first place.
If he wants to watch DVD’s over and over again, then so-be-it, even if it’s way past bedtime. I’ve proof he always ends up sawing wood.
If he performs certain challenging tasks, such as heading to the potty before it’s too late – reward him with a trip to the jellybean “waterfall” on the dining room table. Provide him with a tiny cup to fill and enjoy.
If he wakes up “dry” and wants more jellybeans for breakfast, fine. The second course can always be a scrambled egg with grits.
If he wants to go to Target for a look-see at the Thomas the Train toys, hit the road and put him in the cart. Oh, yes, and be willing to spend a bit of money on the one he wants to buy that day.
If he wants to take a bath at 3 p.m. so he can play with his new boat you also bought at Target, run the water.
If he wants to use your pricey Rodan and Fields facial serum mini-pods as cargo for his Thomas the Train engines – empty the jar onto the floor.
If he wants to read Chuck the Truck again for the tenth time, turn back to page one.
If he wants to ride his bike even though the temperature is 95 degrees, put on your shorts and sunglasses.
If he wants to play in the sprinkler for a while, turn on the hose, no matter if your address ends in an even number or odd one, reminding yourself that you never use up your water-allowance anyway.
I admire young parents for their abilities to enforce house rules and proper discipline in their children. It makes the role of grandparenting easier. For me, since Liam gets ample discipline from his mother and father, I am afforded a kind, well-mannered, sweet little boy to spoil. No grandparent wants to upset the applecart of parental control, but bending the rules a bit for short periods of time, well – let’s just say it won’t destroy them.
I don’t get near enough time to spend with Liam. And when he’s here, well, I take my responsibility very seriously. It takes days for me to adjust after he goes back home. I sit and wait anxiously to hear that tender little voice yelling, “GraaaanyMur!”
“Hold on darling child, I’m on my way.” After all -- anything he wants. His wish is my command. And that's all I have to say. Period.