Tonight my mom huffs and puffs a bit before taking the dinner she made upstairs for her and her paramour. She and Sophie are headed to Portland tomorrow, to meet up with my brother, stay the night, and then head East to scatter some of my father’s ashes on the same lake his parents were interred (yes, I know you can’t really “inter” cremation remains). Anyway, right now she’s a little pissed because I’ve reminded her that she just decided to leave a full two hours before Sophie’s first swim team practice (this is not the first time I’ve told her Sophie’s sport schedule, nor will it be the last I suppose). My mom doesn’t want to leave later to honor Sophie’s swim date, and she’s rattled enough (or maybe hungry enough for the hideous hangtown fry she’s just prepared) that she kind of trails off before stomping upstairs.
This schedule thing is purely between my mother and daughter. I tell Sophie, “Grandma wants to leave tomorrow at 3 – but that means you’ll miss swim team.” And the next few paragraphs indicate why my daughter is awesome: first she thinks for a few seconds, then says, “Is there a different time Grandma can leave?” and I tell her, “Well, you should figure it out.” She doesn’t cry or whine; she doesn’t want to give up swim team or the roadtrip either. And she’s definitely able to hold her own talking to Grandma.
I’ve worked hard at training the kids not to run upstairs to see my mom, with pretty good success. They are instructed to call Grandma’s cell phone first if they’d like to visit her. Sophie pads on over to the downstairs phone (she’s adorable, barefoot in the WTWTA Max costume prototype) and dials my mother’s number. She realizes the cell phone is downstairs in my mother’s purse. A few minutes later (after reading a bit of her Japanese comic book) she tries again; this time she sneaks the phone outside the door to my mother’s upstairs bedroom, comes back downstairs, and calls. I hear her say, “Grandma, I have something I want to talk to you about,” … pause, waiting for assent … “OK, I’ll be up as soon as I’ve finished vacuuming.”
And then she fiddles about with the vaccuum attachment and asks me how to make it work, and I’m busy sewing so I don’t get to her right away, so she figures it out herself. And by the way, I don’t actually know how to work that particular vaccuum attachment, so now I know someone I can ask.
And then she goes upstairs and remembers (without a reminder) to bring up the plate of chocolate-chocolate chip cookies we’d made for the old timers.
You know what? I want my kids to make their own schedules, and understand them, and keep them, and negotiate around them (and yes, do housework!). As it turns out Sophie agrees to miss her practice and my mom later comes down and tries to convince me she didn’t pressure Sophie into this particular agreement.
As for my father’s remains, I have my own little bottle or two. That skinny old bastard made a lot of ash. So, I’ll either go to the lake on my own or I’ll take his remains somewhere else or I’ll put ’em in a coffee can and toss them off a cliff and the wind will blow them back into Ralph’s face. Or something. I just can’t bear to go with my mom and brother.