A Chansonette

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Here begins this chansonette.

This may be higgledy-piggledy,

A verse prone to rejectamenta,

A bit of flapdoodle-doo,

With lots of squiggle-diggle-ty.

I nearly spewed my mawkish tea,

While expanding my vocabulary,

The word-of-the-day’s speciality,

This assignment is now

quite ready to go, you see? 

yet I have mispronounced thee. 

Please forgive.

Most of this piece

does not rhyme.

But if I can do it,

I will find and make

the thyme

for this silly little

chansonette.

Please forgive.

MS PGothic

MS PGothic- I think I love you

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I have got to say

When I see you naked

On the sheet so bare

My heart-rate rushes

Oh stop!

No, don’t stop.

Should I bold you?

Highlight you?

Underline you?

Make you blue?

No, there’s something special 

‘bout ebony and ivory.

I will celebrate life with you

Ah, heck! You are so much more

I will live; and live

My life thru you.

Should I bold you?

Highlight you?

Underline you?

Make you blue?

No, there’s something special 

‘bout ebony and ivory.

On a sheet so bare.

The Factotum’s Procrustean Bed

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Years ago, I had purchased an audio lecture course for word nerds via Audible. I quit listening for reasons I don’t remember, but it’s most likely a new semester had begun. Now that I am a certified university graduate, I decided to form a new habit of learning one new word each week in 2022.  

I do love words; yes, I am a nerd. I just don’t know enough of them to make me sound like a pretentious, and pompous windbag, yet I am willing to learn how to be one. Just kidding.  I love how one skilled in language use can string words together, forming into an exquisite and rare-jeweled necklace adorning the page.  Like how a blob of paint upon a canvas can be pushed, pulled, and squished around to form an abstract or still life. Or how a musical note layered one upon another can become an enchanting melody transporting me to a third or fourth dimension. 

I am also inspired by a long-time friend, a genuine Einstein level of genius who has a vocabulary the size of a real, hard copy, 8” thick Webster’s dictionary: The self-proclaimed and humble Master of None (https://rongiesecke.com/?s=giesecke). In my opinion, you are master of the English vocabulary, whose use of language I admire.  (And yes, 8-inch-thick dictionaries really exist. My mother owned one yet was most often used in our family as a toddler’s booster seat at the table.)

But I digress.

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After rediscovering and listening to the introductory chapter of the course, I remembered what had attracted me to the lectures; the technique of teaching was finally a process that I could remember a word’s meaning far beyond that of knowing long enough for a test and promptly flushing.  

Therefore, what and when I write here is something I cannot take credit for––another’s idea yet put into my own words.  That credit belongs solely on the instructor, Kevin Flanigan, PH.D., West Chester University of Pennsylvania. The title of the audio course and the accompanying eBook in PDF format is “Building a Better Vocabulary.” 

His method involves 1) defining the word 2) using the word in context 3) breaking down the morphology and/or etymology 4) making connection: the new with what you already know 5) chunking or learning by groups of similar words. Words that are very often used together are collocates and aids memory by learning synonyms that can be connected in meaning.  

 I have four new words saved to memory: factotum, procrustean, circumspect, and factitious. Following in the footsteps of Prof. Flanigan, I explain my two favorite words from the first four weeks of 2022. These I will remember 50 years from now. (Ask me then.)

Factotum

1. Definition: a factotum is a person who performs many kinds of tasks, or a general servant; a jack-of-all trades. 

2. Context: Modern society would not typically use the word factotum to describe a butler, girl- Friday, or a go-fer, but in fact, that is precise meaning of a factotum––one who performs many different types of tasks. 

3. Morphology: Latin; fac, make, do + totum; all, of the whole. 

Etymology: first used in the 1500s, Martin Luther used factotum in his commentary on            Galatians in 1535. (Merriam -Webster dictionary app.)

4. Making connection: take the new word and connect it to what is already known. We know that mothers are nursemaids, cooks, housecleaners, laundresses, chauffeurs, bookkeepers and more. Picture your mother and now you can make a connection of the new word factotum. Moms do a little bit of everything. 

5. Chunking: category of words that mean servant, jack-of all-trades, man/girl Friday, personal assistant, or a handyman/woman. 

Procrustean

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1. Definition:  Tending to produce conformity by violent or arbitrary means. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means to enforce uniformity or conformity without regard to natural variation or individuality. 

2. Context: Many U.S leaders have instituted mandates they equate with constitutional law and enforce by tyrannical means of denying basic human rights such prescription drugs, loss of employment, or denying people to be in public places without proof of receiving a particular injection. Many people view these as being placed on the procrustean bed of leadership by coercing individuals to comply, regardless of personal belief or health status, with the specious argument of keeping every citizen “safe.”  

3. Morphology: Procrustean is an adjective derived from Greek mythology of a robber named Procrustes who was known to force victims to lie on a bed and made them fit or by chopping off limbs. Etymology: first known recorded use c.1640s; Procrustes+an (Dictionary.com).

4. Connection: The authoritarian ruler often metes out punishments to young children with procrustean methods such as spanking with a willow tree branch. My personal connection is a memory of an angry mother chasing me around the yard while my calves stung with each strike of a willow branch and an involuntary corresponding yelp. I envision a weeping willow tree and see Procrustes. 

5. Chunking with words that mean ruthless, tyrannical conformity, unmerciful, inexorable. 

I’m excited to think that by this time next year, I will have 52+ new words to insert into my writing. I suppose at the year’s end that the next challenge is to see how many new words I can use in one blog and be coherent. 

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Ye Ol’ Switcheroo

The Relentless Search For Balance

Twenty Minutes to Eleven

My most recent post of eons ago, I wrote of my journey that began in the early months of 2020 of developing new habits; tasks performed daily in increments of 20 minutes each day. I slapped the tongue-in-cheek title “How I Changed the World,” due to a rousing motivational speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven. Prior to viewing the speech, I had read the book 5 Things Successful People Do Before 8 a.m. by Terri Savelle Foy. Needless to say, this proved to be fodder to cancel my couch potato life and strive to accomplish a few goals. But never before 8 a.m. It is not for lack of trying: I am, after all, a retiree!

It doesn’t really have to be 5 things; it can be as many or few as habits one wants to form. The commonality between the most successful ones, according to Mrs. Foy, choose exercise, meditation or prayer, and reading in 20 minute increments. This is referred to as the golden hour. (I noticed there is no mention of where coffee places, first or after, but I place it first and foremost!) I chose to include the habits of writing and tracking things I am grateful for each day.

But I made changes to that schedule in 2021. As stated in my previous post, I learned of forming habits in shorter time frames. I assume this for people who like to brag about the tally of mini habits they keep each day. Based upon that theory, I made a decision to reduce the minimum time to 11 minutes. It was an arbitrary number pulled from the thin, gray air of winter––the January doldrums.

I began my new system thinking I had relieved myself from some imaginary and self-imposed burden. (I am slowly realizing that I have a time-management problem.)

Yet something I had not accounted for began to manifest the very first day. Chalk it up to the Middle-Child Syndrome. Yep, the drive to achieve beyond that of an older brother and a younger sister in order to get NOTICED. Allow me to digress.

Growing up, it was futile to try to outdo my brother; hard as I may hindsight has revealed I was only kicking against the pricks, as Apostle Paul was fond of saying. Being the baby, almost literally, my sister was the “cute one” as she so dutifully reminded anyone is earshot. I guess Mom and Dad (God rest their souls) thought so too. I was reminded every Christmas when brother got something shiny and new like a red bike, sister got a pretty pink blanket while mine was diaper yellow color, or a 3-foot-tall deaf and dumb doll. I was not the I-want-a fake-baby-kind of little girl. My imagination spectrum did run in the vein of making plastic babies come alive, no matter how tall or short.

So what was going on with to 20 to 11 switcheroo?  One should be overjoyed to know time commitments down from 20 minutes to 11 minutes to be freeing.  The problem is pure and simple; the old it’s not good enough mindset. The backstory (a semi-fancy word meaning to digress) is that my childhood report card grades were always honor roll worthy. If I got a B+, Dad always ––and I mean every stinking time––asked why it wasn’t an A. If an A-, why not an A, if an A, why not an A+?  The memo was loud and clear: my work was never good enough. I’m sure my father was completely unaware of the silent message transmitted. I think his motivation came from a place that didn’t want me to get “too big for my britches” as these types of things were often said.  He wasn’t my loudest cheerleader. But again, I digress. 

For me, the simple solution of extending time beyond those 11 minutes never seem to quite work out. I tried that a few times and went to the far-beyond side like into the evening. Ok, that’s pure hyperbole.  You go too far, a complaint I have heard a few times. It has been a frustrating and vicious cycle of searching for balance. 

It wasn’t but two days into the new time that I realized 11 minutes of exercise isn’t going to profit the body much, so that I did relent and returned to 20-minute sessions. The dirty little secret is that I really don’t exercise every day: usually 4 days of the week. SHHHH!

Reading and writing sessions were difficult to adapt because when the timer sounded, I was just getting to the meat of the story––time to quit. Torn between patting myself on the back and that inner monologue “this isn’t good enough” created major tension. Why is that stupid, self-incriminating voice in my head? 

Guilt and self-condemnation because I did not carry out each task for 20 minutes? Unbelievable. Who sets the bar?  Oh, yes that’s right: I did. Who lowered the bar? Hmm, let me think. 11 minutes wasn’t good enough with or without self-permission. Does this perception relate back to that not-quite-good enough, middle-child syndrome? Or is this phenom much more sinister?  Probably. I suspect I am not the only one to deal with this, and why therapists are making lots of money. And I realize I may have unconsciously passed this onto the next generation. Sorry, kids! 

I went back to YouTube and viewed the original motivational speeches that inspired me to buy the book about 5 habits, etc. I have my tube settings set to auto play the next video and low and behold! It is titled “Goal Setting: 11 minutes that can change your life.” Fed up with it all, I chose not to watch that one but feel free.

Go figure. 

I did mention previously that I would report on a goal for 2021 to form the habit of eating dinner at the table, just like the old days. That lasted about 7 days. Why? Because the OLD habit was so ingrained in my mind that the pure comfort of the Lazy Boy Reclining love-seat proved too powerful that I just plain forgot. Try again in 2022.

After working through the many drafts of this piece, I have come to the conclusion that maybe less IS more. Maybe it’s true I am my own best psychiatrist. And maybe, just maybe, it is better to do and develop habits NO MATTER if 20 minutes, 11 minutes or 5 minutes. Some famous film character once said “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Admiral McRaven’s Rousing speech:

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How I Changed the World

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In the fall months of 2019, I decided I would change a habit from NOT making my bed any day ever to making my bed every single day. I’m proud to announce that I have successfully made my bed every single day for more than entire year.  

In January of 2020, I read that a famous admiral, William H. McRaven addressed the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas of Austin. He said, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” I felt pretty good knowing I was on the forward path to be top-notch world changer. Although I really did not believe I could change THE world, I figured I would change MY world. 

Then came March 2020.  As it turns out, THE world did change as I continued my newly formed habit. I don’t like the world anymore.  This situation has left me with a couple questions that nag:  If I stop, will the world go back to the way we were? Or what would happen if we all made our bed every day?

Joking aside, that one small task led to me forming and completing other habits just as McRaven said it would. Making my bed every day led to me composing a list of five things more that I try to complete every day. I confess that I have not been quite as faithful to complete everything every day as my bed-making habit. (Sunday’s are filled with so many activities that I gave myself permission to take the day off.)  The five things include:

  • Pray or meditate for 20 minutes.
  • Write down 20 things I am thankful for.
  • Read for 20 minutes.
  • Write for 20 minutes.
  • Exercise for 20 minutes.

Having read 20 minutes almost every day since the middle of January of 2020, I have read 16 books to date. That amazes me. In addition, I have two more books that I am currently reading: One for my regular 20-minute session, and one Kindle book that I call my “bus stop” reading –– reading while waiting for the school bus to arrive with a grandchild.  

My daughter sent me another link to a great inspirational talk on YouTube in which it talks about setting realistic goals by decreasing the time allotment.  Let’s face it; life gets in way of accomplishing many of our to-do list simply because we set unrealistic expectations. 

Whenever I have an overwhelming task that needs doing, such as decluttering a room, I use this method by setting a timer for 20 minutes. That goal works for me. When the 20 minutes expires it’s an awesome feeling to know I can walk away guilt free until next time.  

My problem is that “next time” might not happen for months.  Yikes. 

At this point, I am faced with the decision of continuing this for the next year. I am fairly certain that I will, but I may employ the mini habit goals in 2021. Mostly because I was only about 90% successful in meeting the 20-minute goal every single day, six days a week.

Despite how I managed to change the world, I will continue making my bed every day, even in motel rooms.  I am considering upping the game by forming two more habits in the coming weeks. One being no more pajama days, except on Mondays. I wish I could blame excessive use of pajamas on CoVid19 only, but that would be dishonest. 

The second habit I would like to develop is to eat dinner at the dining table rather than mindlessly gobble while on the recliner and watching TV, except on Sundays and any day of the week that ends with d-a-y.  Just kidding.

As I write, I am realizing that had my 20-minute writing sessions been with continuity, instead broken up with different things, like “dear diary” entries, I could have that book in the making complete! Geez, some people are slower than a slug.   I’ll get back to you next year on how that works out. 

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3 Suppositions and a Conclusion

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1. I am created in the image of God.

  • Genesis 1: 26; “And God said. Let us make man in our image….”
  • Genesis 1:27; So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” KJV

2. A dream begins with an image.

  • The American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.)  defines the transitive verb form of the word dream as “to conceive of or imagine.” 
  • The intransitive verb form of the word dream is “to have a deep aspiration.”

3. I was formed in my momma’s womb by ADONAI.

  • Psalms 139:13b “You [God] knit me together in my mother’s womb.” TLV
  • Isaiah 49: 5a “So now says ADONAI, who formed me from the womb….” TLV
  • Jeremiah 1: 4 and 5a “The word of ADONAI came to me saying: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you….”

Conclusion:

Dreams, in the sense of having deep aspirations, begin with an image or a vision.  Dreams such as these require hard work and dedication to manifest into reality: There is no magic bean to produce Jack’s beanstalk. 

Therefore, because I am made in the image of God, that dream conceived and imagined, and aspired to by God’s forming of my body in my mother’s womb, I can safely conclude that I am a dream come true! 

#Where Did My Belly Button Go?

Health experts say sitting is the new smoking, meaning consistently sitting long hours is just as detrimental to one’s health as is smoking.  I have spent the last five years sitting on my fanny an awful lot while pursuing a higher education.  Since graduation, binge watching my shows seems to be more enjoyable than cleaning out the pantry. Consequently, me ol’ belly button has moved.  

I used to be an active person. In a far-away past I had always found ways to move that was enjoyable to such as walking trails, riding bicycles, or aerobic stair stepping routines via VHS tapes in the 1990s. I even started taking backpacking camping trips.  

My outdoor, fun-in-the-sun activities came to a screeching halt in 1999 due to severe burns. Although healed, being in the sun became physically painful. It’s akin to having a sunburn and stepping outside under the UV rays. 

Yet in my pre-burn youth I never did like going to the gym: For one, I couldn’t afford the fees. So, in inclement weather I found plenty of ways to stay fit. I’ve been known to walk in circles inside my house––I had a house conducive to doing so––until I reached a mile or jumped rope 45 consecutive minutes or danced around for a pre-set time allotment. Ah, those were the days, my friend! 

The kids were always commanded ––yelled at––to stay away from Mom during these times. A daughter and I were reminiscing, and she surmised that it was because I didn’t want them to see my red face! I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t that but my sense of “me time” was being invaded. (Sorry, kids, if you happen to read this.) I’ve concluded this is why I don’t fully enjoy going to the gym––chalk it up to my introvert tendencies. (And yes, my face does get very red.)

But I digress. 

Over the years, I have participated in Yoga, Zumba, and aerobic classes, none of which I have truly enjoyed doing as a group. But my all-time favorite gym experience was at the local YMCA: Drumming. These routines entail pounding sticks on a yoga ball while dancing around. I suspect I loved it because I sometimes play the drums and I do own a drum kit. I’m the one air drumming and crashing cymbals while everyone around is strumming riffs at air guitars or singing-into-the-spoon. 

In the few weeks before the required Stay-at-Home orders went into effect, I met with a personal trainer once a week to work on strengthening my core. I was blessed too find one to come to my home once a week until COVID19 showed up in a fast and furious way. 

There is a plethora of opportunities to subscribe to virtual work routines, yet I want to recommend Dale Maynor at https://www.dalemaynorfitnesstraining.com.

I’ve kept the routine going sans trainer; but I decided I needed to get the whole body moving. So, I dug out the plastic aerobic step system from storage.  Two days later (yep, I tend to procrastinate), the search began on YouTube for a routine to follow and I was delighted to find an original Susan Powter video.

In the early 2000s, I was faithful to Powter’s “Lean, Strong and Healthy” aerobic stair stepping video.  I thought she was pretty cool although I never figured out exactly what insanity she wanted to stop. I was too busy huffing and puffing and blowing the house down to give a rip.

It was from Powter that I first learned a more proper posture that promotes better results in working the core: pull your belly button in as if to touch the spine.  Within two minutes upon my reunification with my old friend Susan and the “Lean, Strong and Healthy” routine, I began to wonder if I still had a belly button and if so, where is it?  

As it turns out, I do have one but there is much more distance to cover these days until it reaches the lower spine. Still, I did my best to bring a meeting of the twain––obviously much easier when I was 50 pounds lighter and a tad younger.

This pulling-in-the-belly-button-to-spine activity helps open up and lengthens the spine: It’s especially therapeutic for those who have been under the influence of gravitational pull longer than some. It’s good to practice throughout the day as well and helps relieve back pain. 

Many people’s social lives revolve around faithful gym attendance like some society’s neighborhood pub serves as a social center.  My introvert-self is quite content to step up and practice my belly-buttoning-pulling-in routine in the happy and sometimes bored confines of my home. 

For the curious or like-minded souls check out Powter’s video:

NOTE: The music as well as the video quality really sucks. One pet peeve to video routines is the music. Sometimes it reminds me of porno tunes––so I’ve been told; please, don’t ask. So, I muted the sound and streamed my Amazon Music workout playlist to a Bluetooth speaker.  Things really got a-movin’ and a-groovin’ to Lover Boy’s “Lovin’ Every Minute of It.” 

They lied: I only loved the first two minutes. 

As the World Turns…

As the World Turns Pauses

It’s obvious that as the crisis of COVID19 looms over the globe, we the people have put our normal lives on hold. Life as we know it has paused.  The hardship of this unprecedented time is unfathomable; for everyone. Yet, I have observed a few personal benefits since Shelter-In Place (SIP) orders were established. 

I never thought I would see the day when one buys five years’ worth of toilet paper, leaving the rest of the community with none.  The plus side of this marvel  is that I visualize the astonished expressions on my great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren’s faces when I regale the tales of “back in the day.” I’m confident they will be googling to verify that Granny’s story was not the crazed rambling of an old woman. 

I am, by nature, a homebody. My only so-called social outing these days is the essential business of buying groceries. Staying six feet away from fellow customers is no problem for me because my innate need of personal space is just about that. Also, bringing a bag from home means I must bag the items myself, saving me from the idiot check-out person who places a loaf of bread and dozen eggs under the weight of a gallon jug of milk. 

On the plus side of SIP, I have only burned through ¼ tank of fuel in the past 3 weeks or so. Another plus is that I have had less laundry to wash because I dress in my stay-at-home clothes (que images of sweats and ratty t-shirts) rather than rocking business attire. Due to my having the nature of an introvert, I have truly enjoyed free curbside-pick up when ordering items online from local stores. I wonder why I haven’t been doing this all along until I remember the convenience fee attached to the total bill. 

I also have much more time available to declutter the house, write, enter the rabbit hole of Ancestry.com, shred oodles of piles of snail mail, learn a few software programs purchased and downloaded many moons ago such as Scrivener.

You may have picked up on the “time available” verbiage in the above paragraph. My busy pre-stay-at-home schedule often had me lamenting if I had more time, I would clean out the garage, the pantry, etc.  This season of SIP illuminates the great self-revelation that behind those excuses, the reality of “I JUST DON’T WANT TO” is starkly exposed. 

The bald truth forces me to confront me. As we ogle each other, one of me vocally gives permission to sit on the couch and stream movies all day.  While the other me simply wags a finger and the inner monologue says tsk, tsk, tsk, what about that to-do list?  

Even though I have strongly suspicioned that particular character flaw exists within for quite a while now, I can no longer deny I have a problem.  It is not that I’m totally lacking in self-disciple.  For the past few months, I have managed to complete a list of five things I do daily.  I say this flagrant revelation is a benefit in the fashion that one must lance a wound before healing can begin. But perhaps the biggest roadblock to getting things done is that of procrastination: I can happily talk myself into the wait-until-tomorrow phenomena. 

I once bought a self-help book on how to stop procrastinating.  I kid you not that in the 14 years I have owned that book, I have yet to read further than the title page. I imagine a group akin to AA in which I introduce myself “Hi, I’m Janet and I’m a procrastinator” followed by a group reply, “Hi, Janet.” 

 And the dance begins.  Should I give myself permission to do nothing but watch movies and binge serial shows (all the while visualizing a wagging finger and hearing tsk, tsk, tsk) and wave the flag in surrender to the screen? Or wait until I finish all items on that supposed list, the list that has turned into a short novel? 

Tada! I have found the perfect strategy. (Turns out, I am also great at compromise with inner conflict.) I will watch an episode; check an item off the list––after completion––of course and repeat. By the time the SIP order is lifted, only a small number of things will be checked off the list and I will be lamenting once again that I just don’t have time to do it all.  And it will be legit. 

A Lot Like Seinfeld

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According to WordPress statistics, I posted here two times in 2019.  For someone who recently graduated with a BA in English with a Specialization in Writing, that fact is utterly abhorrent. The truth is that my inner monologue has been saying things such as “I don’t have anything to say that is worth reading.” It reminds me of the Seinfeld sitcom that often was self-described as a show about nothing.

It’s true that this is a personal blog with a handful of followers. It is also true that I have been tossing to and fro seeking solid ground since graduating.  I don’t know who I am if I am not a student. Because I was not in the typical age bracket of most college graduates, I face a different challenge of who I want to be when I “grow up” or what job can I get with the degree I worked so hard to achieve. I have had jobs, children, husbands, grandchildren and now I have great-grandchildren. 

 The summer months of 2019 found me in the kitchen making jellies and jams, breads, pies of all types; at the sewing machine making aprons; and traveling short distances to a beach; or visiting daughters and grandchildren. In short: floundering. One would think that at my age I would have found myself by now without that proverbial European backpacking trip.

Alas, it is not so. It seems that as new seasons of life roll around, I must begin anew.  Sure, some roles are the same: I’m still a mother, grandmother, etc., but as my family’s life -stages change, I must adapt. For example, being a mom to adult children is far different than being a mom to young children. 

Adaptation does not happen overnight: Sometimes we flounder in the process. That’s where I have been––in the floundering stage. I am beginning to equalize and find balance in my new role as a non-student. I recently began volunteering at a local Senior Center that has helped me find meaning, fulfillment, and purpose outside of my family.

In the past few weeks (21 days to be exact) I have been taking a closer look at my dreams and goals that I want to transpire in my remaining years. One goal is to revive this blog, even if it’s personal with a handful of followers. And yes, even it is a blog about nothing. 

BedPans and Walther P38s

(The conclusion)

The families were leaving, and I was informed by unanimous consensus I was to send a screenshot prior to all purchases for their children. My four-year-old self’s inner monologue screamed, “You’re not the boss of me.”

Instead, I shouted that I wasn’t in an assisted living home yet and asked, “What’s next? Taking car keys away?  Don’t forget who will be having to taxi me around town, if that’s what you’re thinking!” 

I stopped just short of threatening to have an appointment every day when I remembered the party scheduled the next day and abruptly changed my tone to be as sweet as Royal Icing on a sugar cookie. I reminded them to drop the littles off at 4:00 p.m. They weren’t sure if that would happen.

“But we always have a Mad Hatter’s Tea party on Christmas Day,” I implored, “Since you were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s a thirty-something-year tradition.” 

They weren’t convinced. I slammed the door. I heard engines roar and tires squeal. 

Four o’clock Christmas Day came, and grandkids filed into the house, all in smiles and costumes appropriate for the Mad Hatter. But I suspected their attendance had more to do with quiet time and free babysitting––their parents looked quite disgruntled and no one spoke. 

“Don’t mind them,” Holliss, a precocious child, piped up and hugged me with the strength of a baboon and within a split second I was cocooned in a group hug, “You’re the best Gram ever. Parents just don’t understand.”