When you're the grandma, your job is to be positive and affirming and everything is great, and you don't really have to worry about the big stuff because that's someone else's responsibility.
When you're the teacher, you still have to be positive and affirming, but it is also your job to make them toe the line, to pay attention, check their school work. In William's case, because of the ADD, it required additional effort. He was used to sliding in a classroom situation. His teacher commented that she felt that before, he'd been skating by without a lot of effort because he's very intelligent. However, this year, math was a little harder. He was learning new concepts and she could see that he was falling behind.
However, he had me, and we spent a lot of time on the math. I made sure that he understood the lesson.
He wasn't exactly overwhelmed with gratitude.
My response was my typical practical response: "William, learning isn't optional. This is what you need to know. You can do it. You just don't want to, and there's a big difference."
What made this worse was that his house has one car. Don works night shift. His mother works day shift. That means that there wasn't time for Don to get home and get William dropped off in time for school to start and for his mother to get to work on time. This meant not only did he have to deal with Atilla his Grandmum, but he'd go home when his mom got off work for a few hours and then be brought back to spend the night so that he could log in to school on time.
By the end of the week, he was practically running out of the house, so glad was he to get away from me.
He's back in school now. He's also started on the very lowest dose of ritalin. His teachers have both noticed a marked improvement in his focus, and he's once again showing an enthusiasm for school.
What hasn't come back is his adoration of his grandma.
Our relationship has changed. I don't really know how to explain it. When he comes here, he's more likely to involve himself in some independent activity. He's not so interested in baking with me. He is not interested in being read to anymore. We don't have long conversations about science anymore. He's anxious to go home and play with his friends. He's 10 now, and it's just...different.
He has two days off for spring break this week. He needed a new pair of earbuds and I needed to pick up some MiracleGro and some breathable medical tape for the polycarbonate panels on the greenhouse. He walked along quietly at my side.
"Could we find some sort of activity? Something to do? I get bored at your house."
Ouch. It didn't used to be that way.
He likes to draw, so I suggested a sketchbook. I could see he was angling for Legos though. I reminded him that he hadn't completed the Lego set he got for Christmas.
Grandma, the practical. He sighed.
"I guess a sketchbook would be okay," he said without a lot of enthusiasm. We looked them over and he picked on out. I was a little surprised to see a tin of 4 charcoal pencils and two charcoal crayons. It was being clearanced out for $2.00. I took them off the hook and showed him. He was interested in something for the first time that day.
You know, I miss the little boy who was always chattering about something, always had a question, always interested. I missed the kid who thought his grandmother knew just about anything.
He walked along beside the cart, reading the back of his pencil tin.
And then...over the intercom, Thomas Rhett sang:
"And hey, babies, crawling on the carpet,
No, you won't be that little for long
One day, you'll move away, but you're still gonna stay
This innocent after you're gone.
'Cause no matter how much time goes by
And no matter how much we grow up
For worse or for better, from now 'til forever
I'll always remember you young..."
Now I am a sap of the highest order, and so right there in the middle of Walmart, I was embarrassed to death find myself getting teary eyed. I did a furtive eye wipe, and William looked up from his reading. "What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing," I said, and I got my MiracleGro off the shelf and put it in the cart.
I know my grandkids will grow up, just like my kids did. But man, I miss being perfect.