Thursday, November 15, 2012

A grandson is different from a son

Sometimes spending a lot of time with a six-year-old is wearing--I love him, but my string gets short. Tonight he was playing with Sophie in the kitchen while I was trying to fix supper. Jacob gets excited and his voice goes to a high pitch and he runs at Sophie. I'm sure deep down she knows he loves her, but she sometimes wants refuge, so she gets between me and the cupboards where I'm standing. Then Jacob comes after her. Upshot is I'm caught between a dog and a child, one of whom is screaming, and I'm liable to trip over both of them. Yes, I lost my patience.
One of the great advantages of my temporary tenant--she happened in to do some laundry and invited Jacob out to the apartment for a visit. He was there a half hour, and Sophie and I enjoyed a peaceful time in my office.
But back in the house, even after his mom arrived, Jacob still wanted to play roughly with Sophie and still raised his voice in excitement. And then he got his feelings hurt, which always makes me immediately contrite.
Elizabeth and I talked about it, and when I said, "I feel so bad when he gets his feelings hurt," she asked if I was that way with my children. I thought about it and said no, I didn't think so. Your children are yours, they love you through thick and thin--for my children, particularly, I was the only security they had. Grandchildren don't automatically love their grandparents. I didn't love my maternal grandmother. I didn't even know her except as a grim, silent woman who sat in a dark house and later as a woman with dementia, though I didn't know the term at the time. I want Jacob to love me and associate me with laughter and fun--but I am the disciplinarian who makes him do homework and scolds when he yells and.... oh,  you name it!
Yesterday he told me "on accident" (my kids always said that too) that the bird feeder fell down. Truth turned out to be he swung a stick at it. The bottom fell off, all the seed fell out, and he came to get me. So I set him to cleaning up with a broom, dustpan and garbage bag. When he asked, "Are you going to help me?" I said, "No. I didn't break it." "Well, it's not fair!" was his reply, but he dutifully cleaned up the fallen bird seed, more with his hand then the broom. I figure he has to learn that actions have consequences, but it's a hard lesson to teach--hard on me. My good friend Betty thought I was so doing the right  thing, but I worry lately that I am always on his case and rarely the "fun grandmother." Where do you draw the line?
I want to be fun, but I can't let him get away with inappropriate behavior (one of his favorite phrases). I hate to be always disciplining, but he so often plain doesn't listen until the fifth time I say something and by then my patience has run out.
I guess the bottom line is I never worried about my children loving me. I worried about feeding them and clothing them and teaching them and, yes, loving them, but maybe I ws too harried to worry about them loving me--or maybe I assumed they did. I worry about it with my grandchildren, maybe even more with those I don't see daily. Or, then again, maybe more with the one I do see. Oh, my, you can see I'm confused.


ReaderWoman said...

It is a constant struggle for me too, and I have no clue what the answer is - but thanks for writing about it and providing some food for thought....

Anonymous said...

A Grandparent's "duty" is to spoil the grandchild; however when the Grandparent becomes responsible for helping to raise the child, then disciplne has to become part of a Grandparent's repetoir.