I wanted to shake up the holiday season this year, and one of the things I wanted to do was add a service component to the frenzy of gifts, sweets, and general merriment. WAIT: Do not stop reading here. I have not gone all Seattle on you. I still self-deprecate healthily, I look crappy in hemp, and I promise that I vaccinate my kids for anything and everything [hell, if there was a vaccine for surliness, I’d be first in line]. Still, I want to teach the kids about giving back… ok, now I sound a little Pacific NW, so I’ll stop right there. The point of this is not to rub your faces in your own lack of generosity, but to recount what happened to me while I was on the way to do this good deed.
We were off to buy some bulk food items [rice, beans, sugar] that we were going to put in little baggies and drop off at the food bank. For some reason, the food bank was not so keen on having us all pile in and inflict our good intentions on its clients. I can’t imagine why. So, a very nice woman told me to pick up some bagging equipment from them and turn my dining room into a sorting station for the afternoon. Fair enough. But first we needed to buy the items. I thought we’d make it a team effort, get the kids really invested.
There I was, in the car with M and all 5 kids headed to the local Cash and Carry. [I’ll stop right here to note that anything that gets me in that skeevy store is nothing short of miraculous. I usually need to shower the minute I leave that place. Although it’s not as bad as Walmart: You are allowed in even if you have a full set of teeth.] We stopped at the corner right next to a toothless homeless woman with a sign, asking for donations. Bennett asked if he could give something, and being the good Democrats that we are, we handed him some money and rolled the window down. [Please don’t bombard me with your Republican hate-mail; you know I’m half-kidding.] The woman took the money, peeked in the car and exclaimed: “Oooh! A car full of GRAND-BABIES!”
Yes, that’s right. It was bad enough that a little old Chinese woman looked in my cart full of pajamas at Costco and announced to anyone who’d listen that I “must have a LOT of grand-children!” No, the humiliation apparently didn’t end there. Still, I think the blow was heavier the first time. I crammed my cart into the only quiet corner I could find and heaved until I got M on the phone.
“Strip down to your underwear and march around.” He said. “That’s show them who’s the grandma now.”
Somehow the thought of prancing around Costco in my skivvies didn’t appeal. And hot or not, I couldn’t imagine it would be much of an ego boost.
I really don’t want to think of all the reasons people insist on calling me grandma. But what I do want to think about is why it had to happen while I was in the process of being being a good citizen, finally modelling some decent behavior to my kids.
“Don’t worry, Mum, ” said Bennett. “You don’t look anything like a grandma.”
He paused. He grinned.
“Yeah, a GREAT-grandma is more like it.”