Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bonsai Baby

Reagan, our new grand daughter, doesn’t look real. She looks like my daughter and her husband went and bought her at Toys R Us. She is our seventh grandchild.

When our first grand daughter was born my friends asked if being a grandmother had “hit me” yet. It “hit me” the day the first grandbaby came home from the hospital and my husband and I were in bed that night.

I turned to him and said in reverent tones, “Hey, we’re not going to have to get up tonight—not once. Wow, it’s good to be us.”

We embraced, rolled over, and went fast to sleep—until we had to get up to tinkle.

Or as a friend of mine put it, when you get the phone call from the new mom and she says that grandma should come quick and get this crazy kid or (fill in the blank) and then you, grandmother supreme, swoop in and with your wisdom, experience, and superior night’s sleep save the day. It’s grand to be us.

It’s tough being the grandparent too, because you have to wave goodbye as your perfect, fresh, doll-like, grand child is driven home by its parents, two people that you love beyond adjectives, recognizing that the only living thing the two of them have ever been responsible for was a Bonsai tree. They killed it. They had a palm tree, but it got infested with some kind of leaf hopping spider. They never owned a dog.

So you worry a bit and you catch yourself yelling bits of advice as they drive away. “Don’t over water the baby and check her for spiders.”

To be fair, I’ve had moments of “over watering the baby.”

Like the time my oldest son, Aric, retreated to his bedroom, locked his door, and failed to emerge for an entire two week period during the troubled teen years. I finally identified myself, slid my badge under the door, and then kicked the door in. Having to get the door jam fixed was annoying and not my finest moment, but I didn’t know you could jimmy the door off its hinges with a butter knife back then.

SSG Aric Zern later called me to apologize for being a teenage butt-head; he was teaching new soldiers how to throw hand grenades—into a volcano at the time, some of the recruits may have been butt-heads.

Or the time I wore Adam’s baseball cup around my neck like the Hope diamond. When Adam forgot his baseball cup for the sixty-second time and I had to make the thirty-minute trip back home—again, I took drastic over watering the Bonsai plant steps. I wrestled the cup from behind the dresser, strung the cup on a shoestring, wrote THIS IS ADAM’S CUP on the front with permanent marker, and wore it to the ball field. A few thought me harsh.

Perhaps. Then again Adam never forgot his baseball cup again and is planning to be a lawyer, probably to sue me.

Of course, who can forget the time I spanked Maren for dancing naked with a tube of Chapstick tucked between her butt cheeks. She was four and we had discussed naked Chapstick dancing and how much it upset her siblings—her parents, and society in general. I’m not sure if it’s a spanking offense, but it seemed right at the time.

Maren and her husband just brought baby Reagan, the living doll, home from the hospital. I hope Maren hides the Chapstick.

Then there was the time that Heather (who had been waiting breathlessly for her breasts to grow for about six years) came careening down the stairs yelling, “Mom, Mom, they’ve come. My boobs are here.” And I . . . laughed. LAUGHED! Outloud! I said, “No honey, you’re just cold.” Is it any wonder she over watered her Bonsai tree?

Heather and Phillip have one lovely daughter and three wild and wooly boys and don’t have time to kill Bonsai trees anymore.

So much time, so many mistakes to make, but one of the nicest things about being a mother who has achieved grand status is knowing that it will all work out. Kids are resilient. Parents figure it out, and our Father in Heaven allows for a pretty generous learning curve for most of this stuff we call life.

Linda (Seven Up) Zern

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