When one is naturally platinum, AND a mental nomad, one is not always aware that time is passing. Of course, a feeble mind is better than none, I suppose. It’s September. I’m perplexed, and wondering where the summer went. I can account for each day of it, but not the whole of it.
The grandchildren are all back in school. So far there have been few problems that can’t be explained by aggravated puberty.
It seems so quiet.
School started earlier than usual this year. The annual ritual of delivering children on the first day sun-browned and solar-bleached to their classrooms never seems to get easier, especially for grandmas whose hearts are collateral damage to the education system. I guess I’ll always be reluctant to share custody. I’m a veteran by-stander to hard moments.
Because school started earlier, so did autumn, proving that fall is not regulated by the calendar. I love the harvest season, even though it forces me to adjust my circadian rhythm from vacation standard time.
Our family took a road trip to Washington state in July. Talk about malfeasance in grandparenthood! But it seemed like a good idea at the time. Being cocooned in an enclosed container traveling at 80 m.p.h. down a freeway with pre-pubescent adolescents for extended periods of time makes me wonder just why we don’t eat our young. It actually affects the lungs, like a suck of immense force and duration. But any grandparent who braves such an adventure and survives, learns a lot. It’s predatory knowledge. I’ve become a living proverb. Learn from me.
So the following is my essay on “Things I Learned This Summer.”
1. Facial Coding. I learned very quickly that when the kids begin to look bored, it is only a matter of minutes before they are fighting like Philistines. Now, I’m not averse to the shedding of a little blood now and then, but not in my new Lexus.
2. Possible Solutions to Sibling Carnage:
a. Hurl empty threats that have lain fallow since our last family trip, without the remotest possibility of exacting consequences. My personal and most impotent favorite: NON-SURGICAL LOBOTOMIES FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY! However, as every grandparent knows, empty threats are the prized conduit of faux authority.
b. Point out that the aforementioned culprits have all just bartered away their birthrights-their dreams of an inheritance…peat moss! (Note to self: Skyrocket the eyebrows while issuing threat.)
c. Appeal to the better angels of their nature by reminding them we are a “forever family” and then bleating vulgarisms at decibels greater than their tantrums. The cosmos completely absolves any matriarch who mutters harsh language on family excursions.
d. Blow vuvuzelas till my eyeballs are bulging, veined and cavernous, hoping the annoyance
threshold sends them insane, and they are forced to seek silence in compliance.
(FYI: My new favorite word: “persevere.”)
Speaking of facial coding, we have all learned from experience that when Beckham goes red, then white, then blue in rapid succession, he is not being patriotic, he’s nauseous. So we pull over, grab the emergency emisis bucket and pray the projectile actually hits the intended basin.
I also learned a lot about music. It has been said that music calms the savage beast. I say, it depends on the music.
After extensive periods of time listening to the current hits, I am now very well acquainted with Pink, One Direction, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, and Lady Antebellum. I like today’s artists. But a steady diet of “We’re never, ever, ever, ever, ever getting back together,” can actually produce polyps. Really. Hippocrates declared that fact an immutable law of anatomy hundreds of years ago. He was a grandparent at the time.
So, knowing that music can be therapeutic in treating mental illness, enhance mood and calm agitation, I suggested some old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, maybe even something mellow like Simon and Garfunkel or James Taylor, or Barry Manilow, or how about The Beatles. The ensuing protests were louder than a Donald Trump rant. The kids were making exaggerated gagging gestures in hunched bundles, and putting garlic around the windows of the car to ward off evil. They feared a protracted discussion of “the good old days,” and the accompanying stroll down memory lane. Then they’d text comatose emojis to the cousin sitting next to them and sarcastically remark that they were “feelin’ groovy.” There seemed to be something going unsaid here.
I tried my own facial coding, but a smirk looks absurd in the adult species.
We all worked to establish token distance.
I had the distinct impression they could look at my face and calculate the half-life of plutonium simply by counting the wrinkles and dividing by my bra size. They looked at me like I was primal woman squinting at extinction. I’m sure they were expecting death rigors at any moment.
It was the classic clash of generations. I could barely refrain from shrieking…”Back in the day…” Job has nothing up on a grandma on a roadtrip!
Learning absolutely nothing from Washington, and in a state of moronic optimism, I took the gang to Cedar City for the annual Shakespeare Festival. My biggest challenge was convincing my tribe that
Shakespeare and I were not classmates.
We had seats on the front row, and I prayed the grandkids wouldn’t pick any orifice on their faces, belch the National Anthem with their hands cupped over their armpits while making simulated flatulent noises, and make me fear my internal organs would drop to my shoes… or do anything to cause me to wish for a retroactive contraceptive pill.
Astonishingly, they did not do anything that was socially unacceptable, or couldn’t be explained away by an undeveloped frontal cortex.
It was all good.
And now it’s fall. The offspring have returned to class, and I, the eternal platinum prodigal, am singing, “I
am the eye of the tiger, and you’re gonna hear me roooaaaarrrrrr.” It enhances my mood, calms my agitation, and helps me keep from missing the younger generation too much.