Monday, September 24, 2012

My fashion statement: “Help! I need the clothes police!”

I surrender! Arrest me for wearing a denim jacket with Levis!

The clothes police who monitored my every accessorization for nearly 30 years have moved out, and I’m helpless.

One day 29 years ago, our oldest daughter was having an “I don’t wanna go to kindergarten meltdown.” I convinced her that if she wore a fresh flower in her hair, she’d be happy at school.

It was the last time she took my fashion instruction. She developed her own taste and soon began giving me advice.
It reached a crisis the Christmas morning when she was 14.  The day before, I’d had a parenting crisis, walking through the mall, counting the number of gifts I had for each child, and realizing that she was a gift short.

I decided to buy her a new coat.  It was slim pickings, but I found a nice red parka.

Christmas morning at our house was always chaotic, but nothing could have prepared us for her reaction.  Her blood-curdling cry reverberated from the walls: “I look like a tomato!”

Later, her future mother-in-law asked me what clothes she might like as a gift, and I had no idea—I had sworn off buying her clothes.

Her two younger sisters followed in her footsteps. If I wanted them to hate an outfit, all I had to say was, “That’s cute.”

This also applied to dating, with my sons as well as my daughters.  If I said, “You ought go out with Joe Blow / Jane Smow,” there’d be an immediate “Eeeyouuu!  You’re crazy!”  

Kiss of death.  

So the clothes police have lived at my house for 29 years.

My middle daughter got me out of nylons, assuring me that many women were running around bare-legged—that this is “the best way to wear sandals—as long as you shave your legs and get a tan.”

Women my age have a long history with nylon stockings—at first you wore them with a garter belt, a tangle of mechanical parts and weird elastic; then you graduated to a girdle, which sucked in your gut for you all day at school. Panty hose were a big improvement, but they still twisted and got runs, snags, and holes.

So I happily gave up nylons. My legs aren’t tan, but the blue veins make up for it.
Our youngest daughter fought a losing battle to keep me from looking old.  She left for college two years ago, and I became free as a bird.

I caught myself yelling things like: “Too bad! Those hip-huggers you gave me had a bleach accident!”

Then my cousin said, “What’s with all these women who run around without nylons?  In my day, that was a sign of low morals.”

It bothered me, so I took a visual survey at church. The younger women didn’t wear nylons; the older women did. 

I need the clothes police to tell me if I’m too old to leave my hosiery off.

I’m turning myself in. It won’t be so bad—those orange jumpsuits are kind of cute. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grandparents' Day honors important job

Happy Grandparents' Day! And a special shout-out to grandparents who are raising, or helping to raise, their grandchildren.  May you be blessed with the extra energy and patience you need to perform your difficult, but very important, task.

Anyone who has had one or more good grandparents has a priceless gift. My husband passed on part of his legacy when he showed our kids the candy drawer in his grandma’s kitchen. 

Our grandparents showered us with candy, stories, lullabies, and hugs—and so did our kids’ grandparents. Our youngest cried halfway across the state after leaving my mother once. Finally I said, “We’ve come a long way. Do you still want to go back?” “Yes, let’s go!” she replied, replacing her tears with a smile for a brief moment before she realized we were still driving toward Nampa.

Our kids’ grandparents lived far away. When we were together, three of our kids’ grandpas took them fishing and four grandmas cooked for them.  The rest of the year, they used letters, packages, phone calls and birthday cards filled with money to show their love.

Nowadays, many grandparents send texts, tweets and Facebook messages.

For the grandparents, this all takes a mental toll. Case in point: recently, my husband asked at breakfast, “Are you serving warmed-over waffles?”

I replied, “Yes, they were home-made yesterday and toasted today, but remember, every day thousands of people eat Legos.” 

Fortunately our ten grandchildren between the ages of ten and one have eaten more Eggos than Legos, but they’ve done everything else with Legos that you can think of, and a few you can’t imagine.

We entered grandparenthood in a big way—our oldest grandchild was born around 3 a.m. on our 25th Anniversary. The first grandchild on both sides, he had no fewer than eight grandmothers, great-grandmothers and step-grandmothers, and four various grandfathers. To say he was showered with gifts is putting it mildly.

I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. I recommend my secret weapon to any grandparent in the same dilemma: books.  Babies like to be held and read to. Reading creates a bond that lasts. 

Nine of our grandchildren said, “Bama, Ama” or some other variation of “Grandma” before they said anything remotely close to “Grandpa.”  One grandson called us both “Grandma” until he was four years old. And our home is “Grandma’s house” rather than “Grandpa’s house.”

My husband is a good grandpa and this bothers him just a bit.   

I chalk it up to thousands of “this little piggy’s,” lullabies, walks, sippy cups filled with juice, pushes on the swing, diaper changes, Disney Sorry games where I have to play the part of Captain Hook rather than Buzz Lightyear or Cinderella—and a ton and half of cookies per grandchild per year. 

It’s a big job being a rock star to these little folks, but someone’s got to do it.

However, our 21-month-old grandson said “Bumpa” first and has been saying it ever since. It’s not meant for me, because he walks in the room, looks me in the eye and says, “’Ere’s Bumpa?”

Some kids just can’t be bribed.