The World According to Grandma

My grandma and I formed a very tight bond very early on. Her mother, my great-grandmother after whom Isabella received her middle name (Carmelina), had passed away a year prior to my birth and she was still deeply in mourning. My mom always used to tell me that when I was born, my grandmother's spark returned. Starting before I was two, I would much prefer to be at grandma's house, where I didn't have to share the spotlight with my infant sister. Up until I entered high school, I would spend most weekends with her, and she would give me anything I wanted, all of the time. I had it damn good at grandma's.

At 78, my grandma is still the heart and soul of our large family: always there when you need her, the host and chef for all holiday gatherings, and an incredible caretaker for Isabella, especially now, when I'm basically just a 400-pound blob, gestating on the couch all day long.

But grandma's also just a wee bit batshit crazy.

Longtime readers might remember Grandma's Rules for Infant-Rearin'. In summary, they include bundling babies in 14 layers of clothing, covering their hands until they're six, and my personal favorite: never, EVER leave the house with a baby under the age of 2 because the germs WILL KILL HER.

Well, grandma's back with another rule, and this time it's for toddlers. We engaged in a restrained exchange of words the other day regarding the onset of Isabella's most recent cold.

Apparently, my darling daughter is sick with a cold because I am a bad, bad mother. You see, I take her to a gym class at my town's rec center every Thursday. It's basically a gym filled with climbing mats, huge blocks, playhouses, balls, trains, and other assorted toys. Isabella and I, along with two mom friends and their daughters, have been attending this class for over a year now, and Isabella loves it. Grandma has accompanied me there for the past two weeks, since she's been spending a lot of time at my house lately watching Isabella while I busy myself by taking up space.

Upon informing her that Isabella had a cold, grandma let me know that it's my fault because I take her to places like her gym class and storytime at the library where there are kids with colds and running noses and communicable diseases leeching from their pores.

I then asked her if I should keep Isabella locked indoors like a cloistered nun for the entire span of cold season (October through April) and she said yes.

And she was not kidding.

She said I should take her for walks, let her play in her backyard, etc., but that there was no need for her to interact with other children. She said this in spite of the fact that she witnessed Isabella having an awesome time at her gym class. We have a very small house. The gym offers her a place to run and scream and act two in a completely safe and enclosed environment, not to mention the fact that chasing Isabella around outside in my yard and preventing her from hurling herself into traffic isn't exactly something I'm up to doing right now. I'm lucky I can walk from my bedroom to the bathroom without stopping for oxygen.

I told her this, and she did not care. For you see, I have exposed my precious bundle to germs, and this simply cannot be forgiven.

I may stay home with Isabella, but we do not stay home. Sure, there are days when we don't go anywhere (especially now), but unless she's vomiting blood or running a 150-degree temperature, we both benefit from getting out of the damn house. Not to mention the fact that exposure to germs boosts her immunity.

Grandma disapproves of a lot of the things I do with Isabella, and it's her prerogative to do so. She comes from a different generation, and I get that.

But I didn't raise a Bubble Baby and I'm not about to start now. After all, she could catch a cold without ever leaving the house, which had happened many times.

And kids get sick, right? It's right up there on their list of priorities alongside eating dirt and jumping off the couch.

I'm only two years into this parenting gig. I see many a cagefight in grandma's and my future.

15 Responses to “The World According to Grandma”

  1. # Blogger MIP

    Lol, bless those great grandma's and their eternal wisdom. I don't live close enough to my grandmother to be on the receiving end of any of her maternal medlings, but I think that their generation largely holds these "quirky" ideas. If it helps, I must be a bad mother too, my kid just got over the stomach flu.

    P.S. I tagged you, check out my blog:)  

  2. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    Am *so* with you girl. Actually your grandmother would HATE me as I took both my girls to visit a friend who's kids had german measles....I wanted them to get it while they are little.

    No luck though, in fact I think they are immune as I am. I have also unashamedly exposed them to chicken pox a few times. In fact Faith was the only one in her school (of 20) that DID NOT get it!!

    I gave up eventually and had them both immunised against chicken pox cos neither me nor the hubs has had it and its NASTY as an adult.  

  3. # Blogger allie

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud first thing on a misty, chilly Tuesday morning.

    Sounds as though you are doing a great (sorry!) job, and doing it keeping your sense of humour in high gear.

    Its amazing that the children of granny's generation ever made it to adulthood, isn't it?  

  4. # Blogger MsPrufrock

    This is unusual though, isn't it? Older generations seem to be a bit *less* sensitive to these matters -ie, sending kids out with no coat when it's cold because they used to walk 10 miles to school, in the snow, shoeless. P's paternal grandparents are this way. When P was about 7 months old they deigned to babysit, and when P screamed for 45 minutes, my FIL suggested that it was because she wanted chocolate. Sigh.

    I dread to think what your GM would make of my parenting. Oy...  

  5. # Anonymous Ness

    this kind of reminds me about my relationship with my MIL. Especially the part about being batshit crazy!! We've been through hell and back as far as illness was concerned with my first one. Every second week he was coming down with croup and inhospital getting oxygen/adrenaline etc - and thankfully, those days are over - he's a happy robust little dude that rarely has more than a little cough - and that's in the dead of winter now. However, my MIL will happily take my 6 month old infant out in howling windy weather "oh but I put an extra layer on, and he *has* a blanket" and I'm a bit sensitive about it because I don't want to head down that whole hospital road again. Granted an outing is great - if the weather is fine and warm, and the birds are singin' yanno? When I tell her as much, then she starts on me with, "OH well I raised (hubby) going for walks on the YORKSHIRE MOORS and it was MUCH colder than this" at which point my hubby reminds her that actually she and his dad left him and his older sister with his grandmother for 6 months and buggered off to another country...thankfully that grandma was a nurse - and could pretty much cure anything.

    You can't win with family!  

  6. # Blogger Sasha

    Kids need to get sick to build their immunity. Even my pediatrician told me that. I feel you pain, though. Criticism is no fun.  

  7. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    My grandmother has some wild ideas herself, and I often wonder how she even managed to raise three kids with all the "rules" she imposed on my mom and her siblings.

    Ian's grandmother, who passed away in March at 101.5, lived by the philosophy that children should be fed and asleep for the night by 5PM. You always knew when our kids were bothering her because she would ask, "Don't you think they're tired?"


  8. # Blogger Marie

    What's Grandma going to do when Isabella & siblings start school? We dealt with every ailment in the book when K started preschool. It happens... it's just part of the whole deal! At least you're blood relatives & you can give it to her straight... It's different when those words come from the in-laws (I think).  

  9. # Blogger Tracey

    That is Patrick's Grandma! She arrives at every gathering with extra sweaters, and blankets for us (I end up donating several blankets a year). She is constantly asking if everyone's healthy. I have learned that, unless someone's in the hospital, to just tell her we're all fine. She doesn't get the idea of getting sick to build immunities and I am NOT about to try and explain (AGAIN).  

  10. # Blogger Jesser

    This is such a crackup, but I'm sure the tension is none too fun. I love all of the older generation baby advice. You know all of our rules will seem weird to our kids (or grandkids) too ... which is a hugely funny thought.  

  11. # Blogger Mom24

    You're right. You're right. You're right. Hang in there. ;-)  

  12. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Your grandma's views are so opposite those in my family. My parents aren't exactly thrilled that I stay home with Little Elvis and I hear during every conversation that he's not around enough kids. He would be reciting the Emancipation Proclamation if only I wasn't selfish by staying home with him.
    I think families mean well, they just have a hard time understanding any way of childrearing that is different from the one they used.
    Hope Isabella feels better soon!  

  13. # Blogger Damselfly

    You're right, it's a generational thing. When your grandma was younger, a simple cold could have turned into pneumonia or something.

    I am still a little freaky about germs because I have a cousin and a couple of nephews who have lingering problems as adults because of bacterial infections they had as children. When I take Fly to places where children are playing, I make sure to wash him afterward or at least change his clothes. But I *do* want Fly to play with other children because it's part of his development.

    Grandmas are great, though! Mine practically raised me until she died when I was six.  

  14. # Blogger Christine

    Aww, I miss my grandmother something fierce. Yours sounds a bit like mine used to. Pain that she could be.

    I mean, uh, clearly, you tried to kill the precious grandchild by not putting her in a bubble. Maybe you should start making her wear one of those SARS-type medical masks whenever she leaves the house and is in the presence of your grandmother.  

  15. # Blogger angela

    You made me start the day with a smile.
    Just to take your grandma's side for a moment when she was rearing children there were more serious germs to catch and fewer medicines to treat them than there are now....she just hasn't moved on.  

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