“Mimi.” “Nana.” “Nanny.” “GG.” “G-Ma.” All names for Grandma.

Whether you prefer one over another because your offspring’s tiny mini-me’s have two or more grandmothers and you want to reduce the wee one’s confusion as to exactly which grandma is on the phone, or because the word “Grandma” makes you feel like Aunt Bee of Mayberry (if you’re under 30, Google this one), in the end, they all mean the same thing. You are not the parent.

This is good, people.

Parenting is hard. It’s basically 18 years of schooling an often-recalcitrant young human on how to be a socially acceptable, productive member of the community, who doesn’t have his bills paid through welfare or via the hospitality of the State penal system.

Grandparenting, however, is less goal-oriented. We aren’t actually raising the future of our country. When little Bobby sets the neighbor’s doghouse on fire or teen Sally rides home on the back of her new boyfriend’s Harley, proudly wearing his dirty leather jacket emblazoned with an oversize “Road Kill” patch, nobody asks, “Where were the grandparents??” Simply put, we are not responsible for the way they turn out. That’s the parents’ job, and we’ve already done that. Now it’s just fun.

Disclaimer to helicopter parents: No children were injured or scarred for life by any of the experiences listed below. Six visits a year, including Christmas and summer vacations, will not result in an upset in the lessons being taught at home every day. Our mission is simply to give the little heart-melters a break (whether we’re six or sixty, we all need one from time to time), induce a few giggles, and maybe make a few memories. So relax and let us enjoy your babies with these time-honored traditions:

Table Manners.
Parents: “Eat at the table. Sit up straight. Use a napkin.”
Grandparents: “Throw a towel on the kitchen floor, and let’s have a picnic.”

Parents: “No, you can’t have dessert until you eat your broccoli.”
Grandparents: “I don’t like vegetables either. Here, have a cookie.”

Parents: “What kind of family does he come from?”
Grandparents: “Every girl dates a bad boy just once. Ask Mommy about her boyfriend before Daddy.”

Parents: Clean you room, then help Mommy and Daddy get all the leaves up off the yard.”
Grandparents: “It’s Saturday. Let’s stay in our jammies with a huge bowl of popcorn and watch Avatar. As many times as you want.”

Financial planning.
Parents: “If you want $120 pair of sneakers, save half your allowance for three months and we’ll pay the difference.
Grandparents: “Your birthday is in eight months. Happy birthday. Here you go.”

Parents: “It’s important that you always tell the truth, no matter what.”
Grandparents (after Grandma backed into the neighbor’s mailbox because she forgot her glasses). “Here’s five bucks. If anybody asks, this never happened and you have no idea how this dent got here. Deal?”

Saving money.
Parents: “You need a haircut. Go get me my scissors and the red salad bowl.”
Grandparents: “You need a haircut. Let me make you an appointment with my hairdresser. Then we’ll go to lunch.”

Parents: “I don’t care what all the other kids are wearing. That outfit look ridiculous. Go change.”
Grandparents: “As long as I can’t see your underwear, your butt crack, or your belly button ring, Grandma’s good. And ask your mom sometime about “short-alls.” Denim overalls, cut off at the thigh. Made her look like a chunky Hobbit farmer. She wore them her entire senior year.”

Sportsmanship when the other team cheated to win.
Parents: “That happens. But it’s how you behave that matters.”
Grandparents: “That sucks. Show me the cheater, and Grandma will go kick him in the shins with her stilettos.”

Parents: “No, you can’t quit oboe lessons. We’ve paid for a year, and you made a commitment.”
Grandparents: “You tried it. You didn’t like it. That’s cool. How about the tuba?”

Parents: “Before you go anywhere, clean your room. And that means with a vacuum cleaner.”
Grandparents: “Bring me any dishes you’ve got under the bed, then keep your door shut. The housekeeper doesn’t come until Tuesday.”

Parents: “I can help, but you need to figure this out by yourself. Keep studying.”
Grandparents: “Put a comma there and a period there. Now let’s order a pizza.”

Parents: “You disobeyed us. We’re upset and very disappointed in you.”
Grandparents: “I don’t care what you did. Grandma thinks you’re perfect.”

And so we find that aging really does come with benefits. We get grandchildren to love the bejeesus out of, without the constant worry we had as parents that everything we say or will somehow become a talking point with their therapist one day. We’ve learned to have a little more fun, knowing that somehow the parents will ensure that they turn out to be pretty terrific adults.

And I’m not a “Mimi” or a “Nana” or a “G-Ma.” Those are left to my grandchildren’s other grandmothers. I will always be, simply, Grandma.


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