Monday, April 5, 2021

I Used To Be Perfect

One of the things that I've noticed is that things have changed between my grandson William and me. I'm guessing that it is due to the homeschooling. 

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. 


  1. I remember that happening with my own children and it was very hard and emotional. It's a stage they go through when they're pulling away. However, the relationship came back around when they got older and now we're best friends. Hang in there.

  2. I think about that with my children. I do still remember them as little kids and my son was not easy. Full of energy and some resistance but he's grown up to be a man I'm proud of. My daughter is like me but much better. Sigh. And now here I am trapped in the islands and unable to see my grandchildren in person and missing out on so much. It's hard to be so far away. I do envy you.

  3. "Atilla his Grandmum". Funny. It is kind of sad and in your case I don't think it is because of all your contact with him, but just that he is getting older. We've experienced it with nieces and nephew and no doubt will with great nieces and great nephew. We are picking up a great niece to stay for two nights Wednesday and I am concerned she will get bored so we have a lot planned and it doesn't matter if we don't do everything in mind. Also, I think once they are adults they remember their grandparents and what they did for them.

  4. It sounds like he wants to do more practical subjects than academic subjects. Some people are practical and some are academic.

  5. Our children growing up and away from us is so hard - and yet joyful too - I found it so transformative I wrote my first book about it!!!
    Later I was asked to contribute to an anthology on 'place' - you can see it on my blog. The story/essay I wrote described the day I took my eldest son to university - he chose to go to Newcastle which is about the furthest away from home he could have gone — and yet it is also my childhood home town! Some funny things happened that day which added to the story but really it is about the tension between the desire to hold on and the need to let go; the sense of returning and yet also of fresh beginnings... the circles of life. This is what I write about and what fascinates me most. I should maybe send you a copy?

  6. Debby what an absolutely delightful post and what a chord it struck with me as a retired teacher. Give him time - not all that long and he may well begin to realise how much help you were to him with his learning over a tough period. Hope he enjoyed the charcoals and sketch book (and finished the lego!)

  7. An endearing story and of course it is hard to know for sure whether the change in William's attitude to you is down to you having played the role of teacher or simply that he is on the edge of adolescence. Perhaps, in a quiet moment and without any blame, you could explain to him how you have been feeling about things and how much you love him.

  8. I have no children of my own so cannot contribute with any wise words Debby. I did feel sad for the feeling of loss that came across in your post, but, as others have said above, it all seems to be part of the progress from childhood to maturity. I am sure that he still feels secure in your love, whatever moods may take him from time to time.

  9. A double whammy of the role you had to play plus his growing older and changing within himself.

  10. I know that there are a lot of reasons why this could be happening, but he really did get sick of things while we were homeschooling. I know that not all kids are academic, but it is a bit alarming to see a child simply give up in fourth grade, esp. when you see that he's perfectly capable of learning the stuff. The problem was that the teaching was done by video and he's not a visual learning. He needs to DO the work to learn it. Once we got to the point where we could simply not watch the videos and do the work, things were much better. I know that growing away is a part of growing up. We'll be okay.

    He's had a sad week on top of things, and as much as I'd like to fix it, I can't. I can only help him negotiate it.

  11. That's the nature of children. He still loves you.

  12. This is a hard thing to face, I watched my grand babies go from rocking, to sitting on my lap, reading to them and they discovered my computer and than I was the cook and got some hugs. Now they are military and college and I get more hugs and phone calls and even a remember when we did whatever from them. They do hold the good times in their minds and hearts. Now when the phone rings and I get a "HI GRAM" I think it is the best words I will hear all day.

  13. Wonderful post. Don't we all reach a time when adults aren't cool any more. Then, when we realise that they really were, it's too late.

  14. That sketchbook and the charcoals have been a bit of a godsend. Today, we looked at Banksy, and his art, and what it said about him, and about the world. We talked about color in the darkness. He was quite fascinated by all of this, and has incorporated his colored pencils to highlight things. He's also for the first time, incorporating texture by coloring in areas with something textured put under the paper. He's showed me his work several times, with long explanations about what is picture is trying to say.

  15. I was recently noticing something similar with my dad and my kids. My kids no longer compete for his attention anymore. Instead they prefer to go off to their room and play.

    I also remember when they were younger, my mom would keep them for a week down on the farm. The girls would be so thrilled for us to go after dropping them off. A week later when we came down to pick them up, they just want to leave and won't let me stay and talk for awhile.

    I don't have any firsthand experience with ADD but there is a boy in my oldest daughters grade who has a severe form of it I'm guessing. They are forever tweaking his medication. Sometimes he is nearly comatose and can't stay awake and other times he is a vibrant young man. I don't know, but I have always wondered is using the medicine to control ADD was trying to constantly hit a moving target.

  16. I have to say that I've seen ADD, even what I would say were severe forms of it successfully handled by parents who are strongly against medication. I think the most important thing is catching it as early as possible, and cooperation between home and school. William takes the lowest dose, one time a day just before his lunch. The afternoons were when we had the very worst time keeping him on task. He can sit quietly and listen now which was a big problem before.

    That would be terrifying to watch a child being 'tweaked'. I would not have the stomach for it, personally.

  17. It is a hard age, Debby, even without the added factors of pandemic, diagnosis and family dynamics at play.

    On the upside - you got to be perfect for so long! and you will be again.

  18. Apart from anything else, he is 10....I remember watching my youngest go from young enough to give me a too big a boy to give mum a big enough to do it!
    You are both doing ok.
    Middle son is Aspergers,just like his three sibs and when he had been in his job a while they got him assessed for they know what tasks that will suit him, to get the best out of him..and he is on low dose Ritalin. Interestingly he tends not to take it on weekends, but then is busy mountain biking!( He is 34)

  19. I am sorry, Debby. I see this happening with Kyle and Hayden all the time and it is going to get worse next year when Kyle goes off to junior high. I am just trying to enjoy the present and hang on to them as long as I can. Take care and best of luck.

  20. I remember that. And then they come back to be your "equal" and friend.

  21. I haven't been through this personally, but it does sound like he's just growing up and getting older. It's sad but it's also entirely normal -- just what happens, right? And maybe there's a little "whiplash" from the distance learning that will subside after a while. I suppose the important thing is to let the relationship evolve rather than trying to hold on to what was. (Says I, completely childless, so what the heck do I know?!)

  22. I'm late with my comment. I tried yesterday but for whatever reason, about half the time I try to comment on my phone, Blogger tells me there is an error . . . . (!) Anyhoo, I wanted to chime in and say while I agree with a number of the comments here, that some of this happens with age, I also wonder if, because you've been so hands-on of necessity this past year or so with school, maybe that's part of the change in attitude. It's hard as a grandparent to take on a role a parent would usually have but, again, you do what you have to do. I suspect William knows how lucky he is with you and Tim as grands, and I suspect he loves you to the moon and back, even though he might have a hard time demonstrating it just now.


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