2. I'm a weird grandma. People will say to me -- because it's obvious I dote on this child -- "Oh, I'll bet you have fun spoiling that granddaughter of yours! You probably spoil her every chance you get."Sorry to disappoint. Nope. First, I don't really know what it means to spoil a kid. She's not meat. Well, technically parts of her are meat. Let me rephrase that. She's not milk.
And second, I'm not much different with Coraline than I was with my kids. I certainly shop a lot less for her than I did for them. I have one basket of board books and cheap toys like big colorful pom poms, wooden blocks, an old telephone handset, and a farm animal See 'n Say. And there's a Little Tykes slide I bought for $5 at a garage sale and a blue plastic rocking horse I paid about the same for. That's it. I rarely buy her clothes, unless it's for a special occasion, although I've been known to go wild and spend $12 at Good Will when I'm flush. OK, and I've sprung for her Christmas and birthday dresses because that was kind of written into the contract.
Her other grandmother buys her tons of shit. They have a toy room for her at their house. And she buys lots of clothes and shoes. And she gives her suckers and Pringles and lets her watch an Elmo video. I guess that would be called spoiling, but I don't think it will make her rotten. It's just a lot of stuff, and it makes her other grandma feel good to buy that stuff for her.
Even if I wanted to, my daughter Elvira would have to have "the talk" with me if I bought Coraline more stuff. Their house is full already. And I'm fine with that. Most of the toys I see in the stores require batteries so they can make annoying, or even alarming, noises. She had one that would randomly come to life and say, "Play with me!" and "I love you." That's some creepy fucking shit right there. Besides most of them are nothing more than advertisements for Disney or Sesame Street. Fuck that.
So I don't do any of that. We've watched a video of cows mooing at least 1000 times, but no Elmo here. Stuffed Cookie Monster, of course. I'm weird, not crazy. But no Elmo videos.
It's not that I don't enjoy being generous. I do. But I don't want my relationship with Coraline to be based on what I buy her or what new thing I've got for her every time she comes to visit. Besides I played with rocks and good black Iowa dirt when I was a kid. She should consider herself lucky.
When she's here we go to a park or for a walk to the nearby art institute to visit the big steel lion sculpture she's taken a liking to. We read lots of books or just the same one over and over and over. We cook together. She stands on a chair and helps by splashing water and soap bubbles around in the sink. And by tasting a bit of everything I chop up. We water the flowers and tomatoes. It's surprising how entertaining that is to a 2-year-old. Or we rock in the rocking chair my grandma rocked both my mom and me in, and I sing to her. We manage to stay pretty fucking busy in spite of the sparsity of my toy box and my refusal to turn on the TV.
I don't give her much sugar (and of course I don't buy Happy Meals. See #1) because I don't think it's good for her. In other words, I won't buy her love with junk food either. We eat whole, unprocessed food like grilled chicken, steak, baked sweet potatoes, homemade yogurt .... and she likes it. I ate bugs and sticks when I was a kid. I suppose in this way I am spoiling her.
So I suspect I'm a weird grandma. I'm head over heels about that child, but I'm not a spoiler. I realize that could come back to bite my ass someday if she turns into a shallow little mall rat, but if that happens, I won't want to be around her either.
Besides, I'm a selfish bitch. I'd rather spend my money on
And that's another thing. I can safely say most grandmas don't play in a band. Or go out to karaoke a couple times a month. And I'm still not sure how I'll explain this blog someday -- especially that photo of me dancing on a pole. But it wouldn't matter what I did. There's a white-haired, slowed-down stereotype of what a grandmother is, and I don't fit it. I might someday, but for now I'm just fine with being a weird grandma.