Tag Archives: grandparents

Grandparents

As a child, I was very blessed. I had four living grandparents, and I was able to get to know and spend time with three of them on an extended basis. I wish I knew my paternal grandparents a little bit better, but I moved to the United States when I was in elementary school, and therefore I only kept in contact with them through letters and over the phone (and a couple of short visits).

My maternal grandmother, or “Mommy,” was the one I was closest to. I lived with her for four years while my mom established her career, and when deciding on colleges, I specifically chose one that was geographically close to her. It was a good thing, too, because she passed away right before my final semester. I was glad that I was around during her final days.

G is in a similar situation as I was: He is the first and currently only grandchild on both sides of the family. My mom and in-laws were both present for his birth and are a constant presence in his life. However, my father, who lives in the Philippines, did not have a chance to meet G until just last month.

I hadn’t seen my father in almost 6 years, when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. He was here on business, bringing the Philippine national boxers to compete and train here. (I wondered though if it was a coincidence that they came to train in Southern California, where I live, and Northern California, where my sister lives, or if my father planned it that way. Heh.) At the same time, I was starting a new job and planning G’s 4th birthday party. I was excited for my father, who has 4 girls, to finally meet his one and only male direct descendant.

Anpa Ed and Gavin goofing around at the pho restaurant in their matching shirts.

Many people probably take grandparents for granted, but because of our situation, I can’t. I know that I am blessed that my parents, who split up almost 30 years ago, still get along and are good friends despite the distance and for the sake of their kids and now their grandkid. I am blessed to have in-laws who are willing to take an active part in their grandson’s life and do so on almost a daily basis. And my mom, who without question (maybe with a little question) will follow my rules in parenting even if they differ from how she used to do it 30 years ago. And my father and stepmother, who were doubtlessly tired because of their schedule, but still came down to San Diego for 2 days with their grandson. So because of these very wonderful people positioned as my child’s grandparents, I cannot take them for granted.

There is a very prevalent mindset in the United States when it comes to parenting, which is, “This is my child, not yours.” I don’t think I necessarily subscribe to that. My parents raised me; my husband’s parents raised him, and I think we turned out well; so whatever we learned from those experiences, good and bad, we bring to the table in raising our own child. If we expect our child to learn diversity, he will know various child-rearing techniques from all of us (as well as his caregivers at daycare/preschool). We are fortunate that our families for the most part adhere to our rules and are (relatively) sane, rational people. Many parents can’t boast that. As his parents, of course we will make the primary decisions for him, but it’s important for him to learn from his elders.

I still remember sitting at the kitchen table and helping Mommy and my great-aunt Tita Charito roll lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) while she told stories of her youth, and of my mother’s youth. I remember my papa’s mother getting a tape measure out of her purse the last day that we spent in the Philippines, so she could have a record of how tall my sister and I were — and 5 years later, when we returned for a visit, she still had the same piece of paper where she wrote down our heights.

Although I was very little when I left the Philippines , I have special memories of him, and no one can replace him as my father. I’m hoping that my son can also develop some nice moments with my papa, as I had with my grandparents.

Three generations of the Picson family: me, my papa, and Gavin.

Advertisements

Babies are not like sneakers

OK, so I keep this Word file on my computer of potential subjects that I want to discuss at length in this blog. And I was perusing the topics earlier this week and I came upon “babies are not like new sneakers” somewhere in the middle.

I couldn’t figure out what the heck I was thinking. “That doesn’t even make any sense!” I must have been sleep-deprived, or perhaps really hungry when I wrote it down, pressed “save” and exited the program.

Then I remembered that it all had to do with this lady that I tried not to watch too carefully at Wienerschnitzel. I’m going to write about it now, before I forget again.

Pretty sure the bib is almost completely useless in this instance.

Pretty sure the bib is almost completely useless in this instance.

Sometimes after his swim class, I would take Gavin to Wienerschnitzel. Now, I used to be one of those people who said I would never feed my child junk food or fast food, but when your kid wants a hot dog AND NOTHING ELSE, you tend to go with feeding him Wienerschnitzel rather than let him starve (or scream “HOT DOG!!!!!” like a banshee all the way home).

Anyway, so back to the lady. She was probably in her 60s, and she had 2 small girls with her. I’d guess that these girls were around 3 and 5, and they were probably the lady’s grandchildren. I assumed they were eating hot dogs like my one-track-minded toddler, but it turned out that they were eating ice cream. Our particular Wiener place also served Tastee Freez (or however you spell it).

Throughout the meal (or snack), this lady kept admonishing the kids, “Don’t get ice cream on your dress” and “Be careful with the ice cream.” Which, you know, is totally understandable. Because these kids were basically wearing EASTER DRESSES. To Wienerschnitzel. On a weekday. I tried not to pass judgment. Perhaps this woman was bringing her grandchildren to a party or something.

When my son had almost had his hot-dog fill, the lady four tables away exclaimed, “I TOLD YOU NOT TO GET ICE CREAM ON YOUR DRESS! Now it’s RUUUUUIIIIINNNNED!”

I swear, it sounded like that.

Those two little girls, to their credit, were relatively quiet in the face of their grandmother’s (let’s face it) full-out tantrum. But their grandma made a huge spectacle in this hot dog joint, continuing to make remarks about how the dress was ruined, and how she had warned the girls multiple times not to get ice cream on their dresses.

You guys, I really, REALLY tried not to pass judgment. I TRIED. But I have to say this.

It was a 3-year-old girl. My son was not too much younger than her, and at the moment, he had ketchup on the sides of his mouth. But then, at the same time, he was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. That’s what a toddler should be wearing when eating. The woman was acting as if the child purposely and knowingly smeared ice cream on her beautiful Easter dress, in order to piss off her apparently very uptight grandma.

Dear Grandma: If you don’t want ice cream or ketchup on clothes … the child should be eating naked. If ice cream or ketchup (or other messy, staining food) gets on your child’s clothing, it is completely YOUR fault for dressing that child at all!

What does this have to do with sneakers? I remember when I was in elementary school, and I’d get a new pair of sneakers for school or my birthday or whatever. I’d spend so much time and energy just making sure I didn’t get a single scuff or dirt mark on them. And then when I’d inadvertently get them messed up, it was like they weren’t new shoes anymore. They were TAINTED forever. Sure, I still wore them. But they just weren’t “new sneakers” anymore.

Kids aren’t like new sneakers. They are actually still really awesome even after they get ice cream stains on their brand-new shirts or ketchup on their pants. If my son has to look immaculate for any occasion, I let him run around in a diaper and undershirt until it’s time for pictures or whatnot, and then I put the fancy clothes on him. If it is too cold for that, he gets “play clothes” until the Kodak moment.

Anytime he goes to school or the babysitters’ or his grandparents’ house, I fully expect that he will get dirty, that he will fall down, that he will somehow have a scrape or bruise that wasn’t there before I dropped him off. And in my eyes, it is completely OK. (Disclaimer: There is a difference between regular kid scrapes and child abuse, by the way. I’m talking about the regular cuts and bruises that comes with a kid’s curiosity and propensity to get into stuff he shouldn’t. A parent knows the difference.) It is part of being a kid — in fact, it is part of being a human being. We have tried really hard not to react too much when Gavin falls down or otherwise hurts himself, so that he learns how to deal with things himself, and/or learns to come to us if in fact he is seriously injured. Of course, when he fell 3 feet from a ladder at the playground today (he is fine), I couldn’t help but cry with him.

But ice cream on fancy clothes? Unlike the sneakers, I’m still going to love my child just as much before. Unless he takes his hand and purposefully wipes his shirt with it, I know the drips of food all over him are the result of being a child with limited motor skills, not because he wants to ruin my life or add 20 minutes of cleanup time to our routine. Unlike the sneakers, which get replaced every year, this kid is for keeps and I’m just going to continue cleaning him up, patching up his scrapes, and washing his ketchup-stained clothes.