Grandparents need help

Only one cure for this affliction: Grandchild needs to live close by

Posted: Sunday, December 12, 2004

I used to think of myself as a "normal" sort of person. Other than a slight obsession with eating brownies, I didn't have any other "ticks" to speak of — until I became a grandmother.

Melanie Kaye Misner, our first grandchild, daughter of my oldest son, Michael, and his wife, Julie, came into the world Jan. 8, 2004.

Ever since I have begun to acquire all kinds of strange habits. Now, I do things like babble like a baby when I come within 50 feet of a child, even though I never spoke to my own kids that way.

I had to buy a bigger purse so that the "grandma's brag books," volumes one through six that cover the birth, could be ready at a moment's notice to whip out and share with anyone who dares to make eye contact with me for more than 30 seconds.

My conversational skills have been reduced to the phrases: "Grandma's baby," "Did you make a stinky?" and "whoo-chee-whoo." What in the heck is "whoo-chee-whoo" suppose to mean anyway?

I don't know and, in my more "sane" moments, I don't want to know.

As a mom, I strive to teach my children to embrace their differences, be their own person and find what makes them unique.

However, the first time I laid eyes on Miss Mel it took all of a minute to strip the poor thing of any individualism. "She has her dad's eyes, her mom's nose, our side of the family's feet. Oh, listen to that, she farts like her grandpa."

Everything looks different to me when I am in grandma mode. The sun is brighter, jokes are funnier and the world an insane place that I must protect her from. If I could, I would bubble wrap the house so there would be no sharp corners in my house to bump her perfect head on.

There are many things wrong with this way of thinking, but what I find crazy about my behavior is, I raised three boys and, if blood was not pulsating from their bodies, a Band-Aid and a "What, this little scratch," took care of concussions, sprains and black eyes.

I find myself shopping for items she won't need, couldn't possibly use and when she is old enough to use them, they will be hopelessly out of style.

But buy them I must. My eyes glaze over and I begin to chant my grandma mantra "Must have for grandbaby, must have for grandbaby."

Woe be to anyone who gets in my way. On a recent shopping trip, in grandbaby-induced trance, I found what I was sure was the perfect outfit — lace, bows, velvet and ruffled matching panties.

There was only one problem, and, no, the problem was not that it was a ridiculous price or that she was only going to drool on the velvet, chew on the lace and do unspeakable things in the ruffles, or that the bows would have to be removed before she could pull them off and choke on them.

The problem was, there was only one left in her size and someone else was holding it.

I am a rational person most of the time, but as I stood there watching, I sized her up. "Yeah, I think I could take her." I got the outfit without bloodshed, but I bet that woman never sets a clothing item down on the top of the rack again.

I believe the affliction I suffer from is a deadly buildup of GLTFA — grandbaby lives too far away.

My theory is that since she is a military kid, born in Virginia and now stationed in Washington, it drastically cuts into my grandma time. If I had more access to her, the above acquired quirks at least would even out.

I have decided to lobby Congress to have it officially classified as a disease. That way I would be eligible for funding, my employer would have to give me so many GLTFA days a year so I could go see her and I could behave this way and have a defense.

In the meantime, I guess I will have to start a support group.

"Hi, I'm Nan, and I suffer from 'whoo-chee-whoo.'"

Nan Misner works for the Peninsula Clarion.

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