Nana came to visit last week. She brings loads of presents we’d never buy, cruises thrift shops with me, and doesn’t complain even when the German Shepherd decides to sleep on top of her. That’s Nana. She bogarts my hair dryer and wears a shirt that says, “Real Grandmothers Ride Horses.”
Nana buys things we’d never purchase. I’m not going to spend my money on chompy alligator slippers or glow-in-the-dark pitchforks. But she will! The queen of thrifting, Nana appears with her magnificant secondhand finds, including remote control helicopters and, this time, marshmallow guns – for preschoolers. At least they didn’t shoot the baby.
Nana reads books. Nana isn’t jaded by the day-in, day-out grind of “Go Dog Go.” She’s happy to sit for hours and read those books I’ve long since memorized. Even better, she brings new books to read, providing hours of child entertainment and a postponement of my next library foray (those late fees do pile up). I’m off the hook for the “Cat in the Hat” for the weekend.
Nana’s another pair of eyes. With three klds under five, one set of eyes makes a hell of a difference. I can poop in peace while Bear showers in the other bathroom AND the kids don’t take the chance to build a block tower to climb onto their dresser (it’s happened). She can help extract the baby from clambering onto the picnic table, put on shoes, and sometimes even change a diaper or two. Score.
Nana cooks. Not everything, of course. But for at least one meal, Nana take over. She makes something from my childhood, like chicken and dumplings or potato pancakes or that spaghetti sauce no one gets exactly right but her. I get comfort food, and the kids get a taste of my childhood.
Nana’s an endless fount of spoiling. You want a lightsaber at Target, the kind that makes actual noise and lights up? Toss it in the cart! Baby develops a sudden and dramatic attachment to a playground ball? She’ll buy that too. The kids know she’s a sucker, but that’s part of the fun.
Nana’s another warm bed. Instead of crawling in with us, Dragontrainer or Baby Bear might sneak into Nana’s bed instead. That gives Bear and I the blessed relief of one less child sharing OmniBed. If she doesn’t want to wake up, she hands them her phone and tells them to play games.
Nana puts on TV I wouldn’t let them watch. No, I’m not about to put on Curious George. I hate Curious George. But it won’t kill them, and it’s good for them to see different parenting styles. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Nana relieves us of some of the metric ton of accumulated artwork. My fridge is full. My walls are full. But Nana always wants to take more drawings, more pictures, and more works of art from her precious, precious babies. I sometimes shove more in her suitcase, much to her delight.
Nana’s an excuse to be tourists in our own town. I hate the local museum, but when Nana’s in town, the boys clamber to show her their favorite exhibits. It’s fun to rediscover your own town, even if one of those discoveries is the lumber-themed World of Wood.
Nana always needs to go to Target. I manufacture excuses to visit the Mothership. She has legit needs, like extra hairspray or another pair of shoes. So we tool off, red cart in tow, Starbucks drinks in hand. And the kids get to wheedle her into more presents.
Nana sometimes changes her mind. When I told her we weren’t circumcising Dragontrainer, she sort of freaked out, and began naming every relative she could think of who had recently lopped off their child’s foreskin. I held my ground. And now Nana can change an intact boy with the best of them.
Nana doesn’t say “I told you so.” At least, not most of the time.