Friday, October 04, 2013

The heartless grandmother

Given his druthers, Jacob would spend an entire day with Mincrafters on theiPad, the iPhone, and barring that, watching TV. It's not usually a problem because when he's here after school we're busy with homework and then he's off to baseball practice or a game. I figure between school and baseball and walking his dogs, he gets plenty of exercise and time away from electronics.
But he was recently grounded from electronics for several days, and he became the bright, talkative, loveable child I am used to. We went to dinner and had a great conversation, we laughed and joked, and he read a book in my office and declared now he knew why I love to read.
Today being Friday, he had no homework, so he was here from three to five-thirty (turned out to be six) without anything to do. He immediately picked up the iPad and disappeared, though I warned him he would not spend the whole afternoon with it.
At four I said it was time to put it away, and we had a bit of a scene. My words about wanting him to use his creativity instead of being a sponge fell on deaf ears--at seven, he may not have understood what I was saying. I suggested several things he could do but he shook his head at each and declared everything "in this house is boring." He came close to uttering one of the words he's forbidden to say, close enough that I got the gist and said if I heard that again he'd go to time out. I left him, taking the iPad with me, and told him to decide what he wanted to do. In a bit he came into my office.
End result: we had a delightful two hours. He dictated a letter to Elizabeth (my goal is to get him to write it himself) which caused lots of jokes and laughter and mock indignation on my part, and then he said if I'd do it with him, he'd do a puzzle. He absolutely delighted in doing a fairly simple one that we'd done before, but he had a wonderful time and crowed every time he put a piece in place. By then, it was five-thirty so we went to watch the news together. He was most interested in the woman who tried to storm the White House and wanted to know why the police shot her and why she did that. I tried to explain about mental illness and government security, but when the news cut away to another subject, he said, "I wanted to hear the whole story."
Long story short, we did things together--yes, I had work on my desk, but I chose to spend the time with him. I know grandmothers who won't discipline because they want to be loved. I don't feel that way, and I hope someday he'll remember me as the grandmother who tried to teach and appreciate and help his creativity. I read in Ann Landers about a grandmother who never called her grandchild on his lying. Ann Landers asked if she wanted to be remembered as the grandmother with whom the child could get away with anything. I don't want to be the grandmother who didn't care what he did and let him play electronic games all day.
Highpoint of a day which was quite pleasant--I wrote a lot, went to the dermatologist (one of my favorite people), and served Betty lunch on the deck--tuna salad and a fruit salad that really was pretty if I do say so.


Claire said...

You are *so* doing the right thing here, Judy. Stay with it and he'll grow to appreciate that and will feel able to come to you when he knows he needs straight talk and guidance.

Judy Alter said...

Thanks, Claire. It would be so much easier to give in but he's such a good kid I want to keep him that way! The puzzle is still up so he can show his mom when they come for lunch.