ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Family and Parenting»
  • Genealogy, Family History & Family Trees

When Grandma is in Charge

Updated on August 19, 2014

The Race is Run

Granddaughter participates in Army sponsored activities like a 5k race
Granddaughter participates in Army sponsored activities like a 5k race

Distance and Time

When Grandma lives close enough for day-to-day familiarity then Grandma already knows the basic rules and schedule. She already knows the favorite toys, favorite games, and the time and place of the next track meet. She knows well in advance what the children want, would like and will be happy with for Christmas.

In the military life this dynamic is the opposite. Grandma is too far away to know her grandchildren on a day-to-day basis. She may not know that her grandson refuses to wear pajamas with feet, or that her granddaughter is afraid of spiders. She does not know the names of their friends or when they have a swim meet.

However when the call comes what grandma knows changes as fast as the next jet out of Denver International Airport. Suddenly instead of frequent and short with nearby family, the visit is long, all day, every day.

No question, family is everything. I am Grandma Donna, and I go to Fort Bliss, Texas to watch over four small grandchildren who I know from pictures and stories and crowded holidays and scattered visits over the years.

More than the dynamic of time and distance, is the change in roles. Grandma is not just for fun. Grandma is on a serious mission. Mom is in Afghanistan, and grandma is on site as a temporary replacement for a person immensely loved and missed.

We spend some minutes looking at each other: Grandma and four children ages three to seven. We size each other, weigh the options and look for clues. Then the children carry-on, perceiving no threat.

Grandma, on the other hand, is afraid, very afraid. While love is unquestioned, what are we going to do to survive?




Pretty

Among the saved.
Among the saved.

Save Izzy

We have a little marching band of ants coming through from the patio door and under the stools at the counter. Perhaps some are shopping for school clothes.

All four children are lined up watching the parade. They sit on their haunches unmoving so as not to scare the ants. They whisper names. "That one is the dad. That one is Izzy." On the end closest to the patio door sits the dog named Moose. He is also still, watching.

Rachel says, "They're hungry. They like cereal."

Robert runs for the Cheerios.

"Do not pour cereal on the floor," I say as I get the vacuum cleaner. Too late.

I ask the fascinated line-up to move as I plug the machine into the wall.

"No, Grandma!"

I begin to move the stools out of the way. It is a hardwood floor, and I swear one of the tiny insects, maybe Izzy, is carrying an entire slice of toast. I turn on the vacuum.

"No, Grandma!"

I kneel on the floor, vacuum cleaner hose in hand and look up to see a dawning awareness on four shocked faces that grandma is about to commit insecticide.

"I'll do it," Robert, age three, who loves machines and noise is more fascinated by the vacuum cleaner sucking up the ants than he is by the parade.

"No, Robert!"

Alex, age five, who has followed the hose to the clear plastic container informs his siblings that the ants won't die. They'll go into the container. Everyone backs up, even Moose, and Robert begins his task as his siblings watch for the ants to land inside the removable plastic bin.

I fetch the wet-jet mop and prepare to remove all ant temptation for future forays. The girls run outside to the patio to prepare an outside home for their new pets. The boys carefully remove the plastic bin and carry their tiny friends outside.

While I mop, I am again amazed at how well my grandchildren will work together for a common goal. I put the mop away and step outside to check on the Save The Ants project. Sure enough the tiny creatures are scurrying about in full health. I spot their home base, but I say nothing.

After verifying that all of the ants are gone from the vacuum cleaner tub, Robert hands the tub to me. Everyone is happy. Their work is done, and they head inside to find something to eat. How long does it take for a fumigator to come?


Check the Perimeter

Before opening the door to the shoe closet, before opening any cupboard door and especially before entering the bathroom, the cry goes out, "Check the perimeter!"

What does reason matter? There is no reason for this. It is fun to yell and have grandma come and look high and low for insects and give the "All clear."

There might be ants. There were ants once, and, so, the children live in hope of more.

I say, "The ants are all gone. They've moved to their grandma's house."

Hannah, age seven, says, "I saw a spider."

Now that is a can of worms. For two days the only safe passage is to the refrigerator and to the TV remote. "Check the perimeter. I have to use the bathroom."

We are preparing for Rachel to go to ballet lesson. She is standing in front of the cupboard which contains her ballet shoes. The ballet shoes are in a separate cupboard from the shoe closet.

I say, "Don't say it."

She waits silently. I am about to pull out my grumpy face. Instead, I sigh and open the cupboard door to do the check. Sure enough a line of little brown ants are moving in tight formation along the ledge of the cupboard. I reach inside and grab the shoes, the tap shoes as well, and shut the door.

"All clear," I lie.

This discovery results in an emptying of every kitchen cupboard and drawer. The children help by banging pots and lids and wooden spoons, first on the pots, then on the counter and finally on each other. Alex chases Rachel with the beater until he runs out of electric cord.

The cleaning lady comes to help. Do I want to scrub cupboards or take the children to the park? Since Elma is paid to be the cleaning lady, I take the children to the park. We play for an hour. How long does Elma need?

We go for a slushy at McDonalds. She might be done. I do not want to be in Elma's way. I do not want the children to try and help. I especially do not want any cries to save the ants.

However, there is nothing. We go home. Alex opens the shoe cupboard and finds his basketball shoes. Hannah uses the restroom. Nothing. Just when I am prepared to endure permanently the expectation of insects and the shout to "Check the Perimeter," the need is gone. Done. No one cares anymore.



Keeping busy building things.
Keeping busy building things.

When Grandma is in Charge

The children, ages 3 - 7, are throwing pieces of toast at each other. Grandma should?

See results

Marking the Days

When Mom gets home . . .
When Mom gets home . . .

When Mom Gets Home

So, the children and I have come to an understanding. My job is not to prepare them for adulthood. My job is not to discipline, instruct, or scold. Though I can't resist mentioning that noses are not for picking, and we should climb down from the stool while the glass of juice waits on the counter.

My role is to keep the children safe and to provide opportunities for happiness and growth. My job is to love them and enjoy them while I can. Because mom will come home, and I will return to my far away home, I am on temporary assignment.

Without question, this visit is far different than a Sunday afternoon at the home of my nearby grandchildren. This visit carries time and responsibility of a far greater nature than when mom is in the next room. But I am not mom, I am grandma.

After hearing the children say hundreds of times, "When mom gets home." I say those words myself. "When mom gets home, I will be happy. I will be relieved of duty beyond the call. I will miss you guys now that I know you so well.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)