Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Becoming the YaYa

The smallest ones poop in their pants and try to stomp on the dog. They hate to get dressed. They pitch wild-eyed fits in public places. Often, they put rocks from the garden in their mouths and suck on them. They are immature, irresponsible, and self-centered.

When they feel like dancing, they dance. When they feel like yelling, they yell. When they want to eat, they want to eat now. Their names are Boone, Silas, Ever, Leidy, Hero, Scout, Griffin, Reagan, and Zachary.

The slightly older ones do all of the above, but they’re sneakier about it. They behave like spies ferreting out whacked out subversives, or they are subversives, ferreting out spies. We’ll see. They are Zoe, Emma, Conner, Kipling, and Sadie. 

When number one grandchild, Zoe, was newly created, she couldn’t make the g, r, n, or d, sounds; so she called me YaYa. One day, she toddled around a corner, threw her arms in the air, flashed a toothy smile like a sunburst, and yelled, “YaYa.” And that was that. It’s what Greek children call their grandmothers. I remember asking my daughter, “When did Zoe become Greek Orthodox?”

Zoe turned my husband into a person I no longer recognize. My husband, the father of our four children, raised them on the following retorts:

When the kids said, "Dad, we're thirsty."

He said, "Swallow your spit."

When the kids said, "Dad, buy us a toy."

He said, "Play with sticks."

When the kids said, "Dad, can we . . . . ?"

He said, "No."

Now we can't let him wander off at Disney World alone with Zoe or any of the other big-eyed babies, or they'll come back with enough stuffed animals to animate a feature film. They sit and eat Hershey Kisses until I worry about their blood sugar levels. He lets them play with machetes and debates whether he should take them away or not. 

I feel like shaking him and saying, "Just say no, man! Think of your legacy."

I don't say it of course, because I'm right there with him. I understand. There's time now and a little money. Time to stop doing everything and that other really important stuff and twirl around the living room to Shall We Dance from The King and I. There's time to sit in the grass and teach the grandchildren how to blow the seeds from a dandelion's face. There's money for the silly stuffed animals that don't do anything. And there's the wisdom to know that a few Hershey kisses won't kill anyone.

It makes me a little sad that when we were parents we had to be so official and on duty all the time. But then I think, no, it worked out. It's a good system. Mommies and Daddies are for the hard stuff. And Grandmas and Grandpas are for the hard candy. It's a great balance. I loved being a mommy, and I adore being the YaYa. 

A couple of the younger ones still can't blow the dandelion seeds off. They just spit on them. But when I show them how to gently blow the seeds and we watch them drift away on the breeze, they clap their hands and laugh, and I get to see the whole big world for the first time—again.

And for that, Heavenly Father, I am truly grateful.

Linda (The YaYa) Zern

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