When Grandma's in Town, I'm Just the Scullery Maid


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second June’s Grandma comes to town, I become old news. She wants nothing to do with me, refusing to let me help her with the most basic of tasks. I am no longer allowed to read her bedtime stories, assist her in the bathroom, help her get dressed, slice up her apples, cuddle with her at night. Grandma becomes Lady in Waiting while I’m kicked down to scullery maid status.

While I secretly love getting a break from mom duties while the Grandmas (any Grandma, June has three of them) are in town, June’s dismissiveness — her obvious playing of favorites — hurts. I find myself thinking, “Hey! I want to be the one to fetch your socks! How come Grandma gets to be your only lackey?” As a parent, I put all this time and energy into trying to raise a sweet, well adjusted little kid who says please and thank you, but the second Grandma’s bags hit the floor, June gives me a look that says, “You’re dead to me” that doesn’t let up until Grandma leaves.

Take last night. June insisted she sleep with Grandma in Grandma’s bed. It takes a very special kind of Grandma to allow a three-year-old into bed with her but this Grandma, who lives in Montana, rarely gets to see June so she thought it was kind of a treat — emphasis on “kind of.” (I didn’t bother to tell Grandma that June morphs into a punching, spinning, human Tilt-A-Whirl once asleep but I figured Grandma could discover this special state on her own). When it came time to tuck June into Grandma’s bed for the night, June actually turned her face away from mine as I came in for a kiss, instead making this whiny, grunting sound I’d expect from someone  like Veruca Salt. “No, Mommy,” she said, between pulls on her thumb. “I only want Grandma B to kiss me. I don’t want to kiss you.”

Plunge the dagger a little deeper into my heart, why don’t you?

When she found out Grandma wasn’t going to bed with her at the same time — it was 8 o’clock — she became very disappointed in Grandma’s behavior. She actually woke Grandma up at 3 a.m. to gently reprimand her for leaving her in Grandma’s bed by herself while Grandma was downstairs watching TV with us. And the moment she opened her eyes this morning, she wanted to know if Grandma B would be making her breakfast and lunch, helping her select her fashions for the day and driving her to Montessori.

“Consider Grandma B dead until 9 a.m.,” I wanted to say.

I know this playing of favorites is a phase, a way for a 3-year-old to establish a sense of independence, order and control in her own life, but it’s no fun getting stone cold dissed by your own daughter in front of visiting family members. Still, I do like not having to wipe her nose while the Grandmas are in town, so I guess it’s a fair trade-off.

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