My grandson Mac is now thirteen years old. ( Hard to believe but true. ) And it seems that first year male teenagers are not as careful with their bathroom habits as they should be. They don’t always flush and they don’t always wash their hands and they don’t always get their pants zipped up.
A few days ago the family, with Mac, came over for dinner. Of course, Mac took a trip to the restroom. When he returned, he was questioned by his mother to be sure he had done everything on his list. He did not pass.
His dad then began scolding him with the usual “How many times do we have to tell you?” and “What’s the matter with you?” and “Why can’t you remember?” You know, the stuff that makes a kid roll his eyes back in his head.
Of course, Gramps had to get into it by adding, “You’ll never have a girlfriend if you don’t get this personal hygiene thing straightened out.”
Without a moment’s pause, Mac’s face lit up with a smile and a gleam in his eye. His instant retort? “Well, I guess the bloodline ends with me!!!!”
Thirteen year olds! Gotta love them!!!!
I have spent the last week talking to each of my grandchildren for various reasons. I found myself complimenting them for their good work and encouraging them to continue to do well. These words are important to hear whether the grandchild is 22 or 11, as mine are.
I know sometimes words of encouragement don’t easily flow out of our mouths, so here are some suggestions for you. Practice them and use them as often as you can. Kids cannot hear them often enough from their elders.
1–That was so good of you!
2–Great job! I’m so proud of you!
3–Thank you for doing that on your own.
4–That was so kind of you!
5–Fantastic! Thanks for obeying the first time!
6–You know what? You are a great kid!
7–I really appreciate what you did!
8–Look at what you’ve accomplished!
9–Thanks for doing that before I asked!
10–What a great decision you made!
11–Tell me more about that.
12–You figured it out! That’s awesome!
13–One step at a time – you’re doing it!
15–Good for you! You were really listening!
16–I know that was hard, but you kept trying.
17–I love how creative you are!
18–Keep going! You can do it!
19–Thank you for sharing with me.
And don’t forget the all important . . . . . .
20–I love you!
My ten year old granddaughter Marie tells me she wants to be part of the musical play being put on at school. She loves to sing and thinks she would do well in one of the parts.
The problem? Marie is very shy, hates being the center of attention and is not very comfortable with crowds. “I’m scared Granny!” she tells me.
The tryout is a sort of Karaoke style which Marie was not able to do the first time but is going to try to do again.
“How can I do it if I’m so scared?” she asks.
I tell her it has nothing to do with being scared. Everyone is scared . . . . . about something . . . . . always. We all are. Big people, little people, shy people, gregarious people, introverts, extroverts, inexperienced, experienced, smart, dumb, all people are afraid at sometime about something. It happens to EVERYONE . . . . . ALL THE TIME.
So what is the solution? I tell her that brave people act even though they are scared. It’s just that simple – Do it anyway, no matter how scared you are!
Then there was a short pause in the conversation. I guess Marie was thinking because she said in a tiny little voice, “Are you saying I’m brave?”
“Absolutely, I’m saying you’re brave! I think you are the bravest ten year old I know. You are scared and you are still going to tryout again. And this time you will do it, because you will imagine me sitting out front in the audience cheering you on and passing strength to you with my smile.”
“Now do you think you can do it?” I ask. “Yes, I can Granny. Yes, I can. I’m going to go right up there and sing my song as best as I can. I know I can do it this time!” says Marie.
I think Marie completely understood the meaning of bravery. She understood the fear was not going to leave or get any less. She understood the attention was all going to be focused on her. She understood there would be a large audience of people listening to her perform. She would face some of her biggest fears head on. But if she really wanted to sing, she would have to act in spite of the fears not flee because of them.
I believe she will. I believe she believes in herself and knows that others believe in her. She’s brave and we know it. Most especially, she knows it!
I expect to hear next week that Marie made it through the tryout successfully and has a part in the play.
My Marie is so brave, she may forget all her fears while she is singing and end up with the lead in the play. It could happen! It’s happened to other brave girls in the past, I’m sure.
She comes from a long line of brave women. Her mother is most wonderfully brave and her Granny is . . . . . well, I try to set the standard for the women in my clan, so yes, I am brave.
And Marie will be too because she will see it in others in the family. She will be taught by others in the family. She will be strengthened by others in the family. And her bravery will be appreciated and enjoyed by others in the family.
Bravery of this sort requires the work of the village. It very seldom can be done by oneself in a vacuum. It requires example, training, support, encouragement and reward.
So I say again, this will work because the village has Marie’s back . . . . and front and sides and insides and outsides. She’s covered. She will be brave and she will succeed.
That’s what a child needs to be brave. 1–See it in others. Have an example to go by. 2–Be taught by someone. Have it explained. Hear words that will be remembered and then passed on to the next generation. 3–Be strengthened by others who help her prepare, listen to her practice, give constructive advice, help her to and from performances, help her get dressed, etc. Others to be in the audience and make it a big deal. 4–Plan for the success. Don’t be surprised and unready to celebrate the good news when it comes. Let the child know you were expecting it.
Any amount of bravery, even one small act, is to be applauded and celebrated. The events will build on one another. Being brave gets easier, but should never be taken for granted.
I can hardly wait to hear the good news next week about Marie’s tryout.
I have complete faith!
Does this book look at all familiar? It sure does to me! It is my mother’s cookbook! She bought it in 1968, the year it was published. I grew up with this wonderful fount of recipes in her kitchen daily.
It was used on the stove, on the counter, on the table and in her hands. Sometimes I held the book while she read the directions and cooked the dish. This pretty red and white number has withstood many a spill, spoon and steam over. It has been dropped, slammed, cut, burned and soaked. But it has survived to be cherished by a second generation, a third and now a fourth.
One of the great things about this cookbook is the basic information it has on the inside covers. I can’t tell you how many times I have used these substitutions in my cooking. Do you see all the rub and wear marks on the page? How many times has this cover been opened and closed over the last 50 years? I cannot even imagine!
The Chapter I remember the best is the one on Pastry and Pies. Mother was the best baker I knew and made the best pies ever. I think about her most often during the Holidays when I am making my pies. While rolling out the dough made with her recipe, I have conversations in my head with her. I tell her all about the happenings of the year, what the kids have been up to, the good, the bad, everything really. I trully believe she hears me up there in Heaven, where she is making angelic pies for the saints.
I learned to cook with this cookbook. Basic things and complex things too. I started with cream sauce. This exact recipe seen here was my first dish. I added a can of tuna and poured it over saltine crackers. I loved having pictures to follow. It was mistake proof at the time.
Years later I made this for my family. The kids loved it! My daughter still talks about it being one of her favorite dishes from her childhood. Who would have guessed?
For many years the magazine Better Homes and Gardens printed recipes that were to be used in the cookbook. This recipe was printed in 1972 and was to be filed under Meats. My cookbook is jam-packed with dozens of these stuffed under their proper headings. Most of them are award winning recipes, but very few of them are low calorie.
Most of them are wrinkled and torn but that just adds to the charm for me.
Take a look at these suggested menus! I’m very interested in Crab-artichoke Bake, but who does Hot Fruit Compote anymore? And isn’t that stain at the bottom of the page as sweet as can be? Is that broth or soup or tea? Could it be meat drippings or vegetable stock? What memories are in that little discolored spot on that page in that old book.Have a gander at their idea of the ideal kitchen. I have to say I love all the blue! But where are all the windows! It is way too dark for me. And who needs a rotisserie anymore, really.
Mother’s cookbook symbolizes so many things for me. It is a great repository of recipes, memories, nostalgia, good times. It continues to teach me lessons about cooking, life, sharing, relationships, old math principles and good housekeeping.
My daughter saw me cook with it and now my grandson Mac is getting to use it. Fifty years it has been our family, teaching its many lessons to four generations of cooks.
It is a tough little book with tender ways. No matter how many mistakes we make, it continues to forgive and forget.
It sits patiently on the shelf until needed. It always has the answer to any question asked of it. It never makes demands and only has suggestions for success. It never wears out and seems only to get better with age.
Mother’s cookbook. Ready for another fifty years of devoted service.
It happened on a Monday. It could have just as easily happened on a Tuesday or a Thursday, but yes, it was a Monday.
It happened at 6:30 pm to be specific. Again it could have been anytime but I remember it well and it was definitely 6:30 pm on a Monday.
What am I talking about? Mac’s first band concert, of course.
It seems Mac has decided to play the tuba this year – 6th grade. (Can you believe it? Wasn’t he in kindergarten just last year?)
There were tryouts at the beginning of the year on many different instruments. Mac blew into the tuba mouthpiece and the director announced he was “a natural”. My interpretation– “We are short of tuba players and you look pretty good.”
Anyway, Mac now believes he was born to play tuba, which is a good thing. He is in the beginning band, a very good thing. And they had their first concert last Monday night . . . . . at 6:30 pm, a very, very good thing.
The evening started out with Gramps and me arriving at the school and coming in to the auditorium through the back door. All the kids were nicely seated in the audience section and no parents were anywhere to be seen. Suddenly Mac stood up and said to us, “You can’t be here!” What ever happened to “Hello Granny”?
We smiled and waved to him. “Hi, Mac.” Again, “You can’t be here!” He’s very big on rules and regulations lately.
“OK” we said. “We’re leaving. Where are we supposed to be?”
Mac. “Out in the hall! You can’t be here!”
I’m not sure to this day what we were not supposed to see but obligingly we went to the hallway and there were all the other families waiting patiently.
Finally we were allowed back into the auditorium and all the kids were by then on stage in their performance seats. Of course, we could not see Mac. He was one of the four tubas in the back row.
The concert was great with lots of Christmas music. All the instruments were featured throughout the evening including the four tubas in the back row.
The time passed too quickly and before we knew it we were hugging Mac back out in the hall. “Congratulations” and “Good Job” were heard from everyone. Mac was beaming.
How special for him to have both parents and both sets of grandparents hugging him and telling him how great he did. Even his great uncle, a musician, made an appearance and was very impressed.
Nothing feels better than family hugs. Nothing sounds better than family applause. Nothing feels better than family support. Even if it just happened to be a first time ever band concert on a Monday night at 6:30 pm.
This week Mac’s parents have gone to Florida for a little R&R. Gramps and I will have Mac for three days and the other grandparents will have him for three days. Share and share alike we say.
He came with the usual bag of clothes, a stuffed animal and the dreaded electronic gizmos. Although when he is at our house, he likes to use my phone because it has the “good games”.
Immediately upon entering the house, Mac asks for my phone and retreats to his bedroom. (Really the guest bedroom but we call it “his bedroom” while he is here)
This means there is no talking, no interaction, no relationship going on between us and him. This is totally unacceptable to Gramps and me. So we have put a limit on electronics usage in our home and especially no devices at mealtimes.
Instead we do other things. Mac loves to ride his bike, so we do that often when he is here. Good for him and good for us.
He and Gramps have explored the uncharted areas around our house and gone bird watching many times. They always have a tale to tell when they get back from their biking trips.
Gramps and I walk around the neighborhood every evening and Mac either walks with us or rides the bike around. Walking in our little neighborhood means greeting other neighbors, walkers, dogs and children playing in the street. So Mac joins in the conversations and pettings. It takes a while to get around the block but it’s a wonderful journey.
Of course, we play board games too. Our current favorite is Monopoly. Mac always wants to be the banker. I always use the thimble as my playing piece and Gramps always wins. I don’t know how he does it.
One evening we watched “How To Train Your Dragon” in 3D. The best part was looking at each other in those glasses and laughing out loud. We had popcorn and everything. Lots of fun!
The next day we took Mac out in the boat. What a grand day that was! Perfect weather. Perfect water. Perfect company. We did some fishing – caught nothing but shrubs. We let Mac take the wheel with Gramps a couple times, which thrilled him to no end.
We all got wet and wind blown. We laughed. We talked a lot. And Gramps showed Mac the sonar depth finder. (It’s a guy thing)
The last morning, before our handoff to the other grandparents, was designated as “lazy day”, so Mac played electronic games to his hearts’s content. He laid on his bed giggling to himself.
He told me later, “I love my down time”.
Our three days with Mac were packed with fun, conversation, interaction, learning and love. I can’t wait until the next time. I’m already making plans.
Every time I say goodbye to anyone I adore, I close with “love you”. Every time I end a phone conversation with a family member, they hear “love you” before I hang up. Every time one of my grandchildren walks out my front door, the last words they hear from me are “love you”.
I want all my dear ones to carry those words with them whenever they leave my presence. I want them wrapped in my love and good feelings until we meet again.
For some people, that’s hard to do. For some people, those words don’t just roll off the tongue or come up easy in conversation. For some people, saying “I love you” to their own children is a difficulty.
I think children cannot hear those words often enough. I think they need to hear those words from as many people as possible. I think those words need to be sincere.
Knowing you are loved provides stability and reliability in your life. It develops self-esteem, confidence and pride. Hearing the words of love reminds you of your place in the world, in the community, in the family.
Being told you are loved makes it easier to share your own love with others. You are more likely to love and express that love. It becomes a full circle of loving begets being loved begets loving, etc.
My family knows I am going to begin and end every conversation with love words. It’s a known fact. It’s expected. If it didn’t happen, they would worry about me. Something would be wrong.
It has now become a tradition, a habit. Something comfortable and familiar that passes between two people. If it didn’t happen – if the words were not spoken – they would be missed. There would be a hole. The relationship would be changed.
But we don’t forget. We speak the precious words to each other every chance we get. Every time. All the time. Love you. Love you too. And the relationships stay strong.
What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? Say a dress made of white Batiste with cranberry trim and maybe some smocking? Maybe it would have a beautiful little green ribbon running through the threads of the smocking and maybe the tie would be cranberry too?
Would that dress be the prettiest thing you ever saw? Would a granddaughter of eight years old think it was the best dress ever made for her?
Would Christmas be just that much better wearing a new dress made just for you? Would you feel like a princess in a crisp white dress ironed just so and stitched with all the love possible?
Would the pictures taken of a dark haired girl in the new white dress be all the more precious because her grandmother made the dress just for her? Would the dark haired girl feel the same because she knew the dress was meant for no one else but her?
What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? How about two new dresses for Christmas? How about a dark haired granddaughter and a fair haired great-granddaughter in matching dresses? How about Christmas memories that will last a lifetime for two?
Is that not that the best picture for Christmas? Two precious girls, in two precious dresses, at the same time? Am I the luckiest Granny ever?
A couple weeks ago, Gramps and I took Mac to the lake in the boat. (It is still very hot here is Texas!) We went all around the lake and then decided we would beach the boat so we could do some swimming and wading in the cool water. Mac had his life jacket on and jumped over the side of the boat, making a very large splash. His comment – “What a huge displacement!”.
Thank you Science teacher!