It’s a Wednesday afternoon. The younger of my twin girls asks me for a yogurt bottle after finishing dinner. It’s one of her favourite things to have and she really enjoys it. A little too much sugar for this time of the day, so I ask her a simple question, “Did you have any juice?”, “Yes Daddy”, she says. I think about it for a minute and start to think, maybe this is too much sugar this close to bed time and I say, “No, maybe tomorrow”. And then it starts. The tantrums to end all tantrums. Dropping to the ground, screaming, crying and yelling about how much she wants that yogurt bottle. I’ve seen this before and I’ve seen this enough to ignore it and move on to whatever I was about to do next. But wait, what is this? Who is this person running to the refrigerator and telling my daughter not to cry and she can get what she wants? It’s my mother. No no…. scratch that. IT’S GRANDMA!!
She tells me to look at my child, and how can I let her cry, “It’s only a yogurt bottle”. “It’s not too much”. “It’s healthy and has calcium” and she tells my daughter that Grandma will get her a yogurt bottle. She eases past me like some kind of rogue yogurt grabbing ninja, gets the bottle, picks up my daughter and eases her tears by saying, “Here baby, here’s your yogurt.” Then with a guilty look at me, she repeats the above excuses, even though she knows she’s wrong. I look at her and shake my head. This isn’t the first time she has done something like this, and I know it won’t be the last. I just simply reminder her. Remind her that when either of the twins act out, or don’t listen, or shows her no respect, it’s her fault. But this is not about pointing the finger to my mother (Grandma). This is more of a question of who is this new woman?
I especially remember my mother threatening my life as a child if I would even think about crying for no reason. “I’ll give you something to cry about!”, she would say and sometimes she would follow through. She had no patience for some petulant child that would cry for no reason, but now at the first sight of a tear or any sign of my twins being upset, the world stops and Grandma saves the day. No matter how wrong my kids are, or even how much I disagree. She has to stop my kids from crying. Is this some sort of rite of passage? I mean do things change when mothers turn into Grandmas?
I’ve been discussing this with my other friends with kids and they all seem to be going through the same thing. The “Grandma switch”; where mothers turn into grandmothers and forgot everything they put their children through over the years. And please note – when you try to remind them, it’s all denied, over exaggerated, or simply ignored. I guess it’s the grandmothers’ (or Grandparents’) job to spoil our children but how is it possible that someone so strict and who engrained the unspoken rule of – make sure that when the street light went on, I better be inside, is now a push over to a three-year-old? I can still hear her screaming my name from the eleventh-floor balcony; “CURTIS!!!! Come up…NOW!!!” Ask a friend.
However, growing up my mother did the best she could. She was a single mother with two jobs, and worked her way through college to become a successful nurse. She is my hero and the definition of a strong Black women. She takes no shit and will give it back likewise. But this Superwoman has one weakness. She has her Kryptonite; and it’s called Grandkids.