Friday 3 January 2020

We are a Pretend Grandmother

Polish Pretend Daughter-in-Law has had a baby, and as Polish Pretend Son is greatly concerned about privacy, that's all I'm going to say about that. I'm not always good at ending stories, so I just thought I'd add "and then they had a baby and lived happily in Poland ever after" to that one.

Besides, when you have no children of your own, it's good to know where you are on the stages of life spectrum. That said, I am actually just shy of 17 years older than PPS. When he was born I was either at a high school dance, sleeping off the effects the high school dance, or writing about the high school dance. Motherhood, let alone grandmotherhood, was far from my mind. On the other hand, I am certainly old enough to have had children who are now grown up so I somewhere on the young-grandmother spectrum.

The "We are a Grandmother" quote can be attributed to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who got no end of stick about it. In the UK, the only person who can get away with saying "We" of herself is H.M. The Queen. I wonder now if Mrs T wasn't suffering already from Alzheimer's, poor woman.

Anyway, I hope to see this Polish infant in the new year. I am sure I will like the wee sprog as, unsurprisingly, I usually like the children of my friends. Admittedly they are more fun to chat with when they are able to, you know, speak. Before then, they limit themselves to wailing their concerns about being alive, human and helpless. Who could possibly blame them? Not me.

Imagine spending most of your awake time staring at whatever or whoever is hanging over your crib. Fortunately for me, I had a pretty mother, and my first memory is of my then twenty-something mother holding a fuzzy yellow doll over my crib, presumably singing "And down will come BABY"--meaning the doll, whose name is Baby, which then zoomed down towards me--"cradle and all."

Baby is an interesting toy of the kind rarely seen today: a doll's face stitched or glued onto yellow velour body that was full of stuffing. If you're dying to know, my next distinct memories are of Cambridge, England and Scotland. My family was visiting Scotland when Saigon fell to the Viet Cong; our B&B hostess thought we might like to know. That, however, is one of the memories one is not sure is a real memory or something one's parents told one after the fact.

"Auntie Dorothy, are you a grown-up?" asked Lily's second boy last month, and I was highly gratified that there was apparently some doubt surrounding the issue.

"Yes," I said. "But I took a solemn oath when I was a child not to forget what being a child is like."

I didn't add that I had made this vow when I was feeling extremely sad, powerless and furious about something that I might find quite trivial today. I'm quite terrified of saying the Wrong Thing to children, the Thing that will mark them for life, and cost them thousands of dollars or pounds to be rid of in the psychotherapist's office.

I'm pretty sure, however, that the Wrong Thing is never "I'm a terrible, fire-breathing Dragon and I'm going to eat you UP!", which is possibly why I am so popular at Lily's house. It is alarming, however, to think that one day the boys will all be bigger than me and capable of picking ME up and shoving me in a handy box or laundry hamper. Let us hope it never occurs to them.

The children of friends are such a great blessing, especially when you have no children yourself. Childless people are in so much danger of skating over life. I have very little idea when the next Scottish school term begins, or what Scottish children think is cool, or what a contemporary maternity ward looks like. I haven't had to get up to comfort a crying child since I was ... hmm.  But I do know what it's like when your husband is very, very sick, so my life isn't completely shallow.


  1. The Orthogal Who Didn't Get Married Or Have Kids4 January 2020 at 03:57

    I have niece or nephew #5 arriving this summer! Hoping for the former since the rest of the lot are nephews... But I'll be happy to continue my role of Super Auntie either way.

    1. Hi Orthogal! Sorry to be so late getting back to you. Not a lot of time for personal writing despite my New Year's resolution!

  2. Wonderful news! Congratulations!!