Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grandma's Manifesto

My baby daughter.
Ray and I have four kids—his oldest son, my son and daughter, and our youngest son. Ray’s oldest claims to be a confirmed bachelor, though I’m not giving up yet. I’m trusting the Universe to blindside him with his true love, though it will be just fine if he ultimately chooses bachelorhood. My oldest son gave us grandkids #1 and #2, 15-year-old granddaughter and 13-year-old grandson. My daughter gave us #3, 3-year-old grandson. Our #4 (our daughter’s) is due any second, and #5 (our youngest son’s first) is due next week. Both new babies are supposedly girls, though I won’t be completely convinced till they’re here. (Clearly, the children weren’t thinking of ME when they timed these births to coincide with the start of Semester’s rampage.)

I don’t know if I was distracted, or blinked, or turned my head for a moment, but suddenly, my babies started having babies. It’s the greatest gift I can imagine to watch our children turn into wise and loving parents. But they’re still my kids, by gum, and they don’t know EVERYTHING yet. So, I’m offering a few things passed down to me by my mother, that I tried (and still try) to pass along to them, and that I’d like them to pass along to our grandchildren:

My baby daughter's newest baby.
1.     As long as you’re not cooking meth, turning tricks, running guns, selling stuffed jackalopes at Wall Drug, or otherwise bringing harm to yourself or others, it doesn’t matter what you do to make a living. It only matters who you are.
2.     Only fresh-ground organic Sumatran beans brewed in a Chemex pot qualify as real coffee.
3.     Sarcasm is NOT the same as humor. Learn the difference. Sarcasm is a defense mechanism that often just makes you mean. But a sense of humor will save your life, over and over and over.
4.     Money does NOT “make the world go ‘round.” Angular momentum does.
5.     Of all the desirable human traits you can develop—intelligence, sincerity, integrity, honesty, etc.—COMPASSION (empathy for the suffering of others) is the most important. In fact, none of the rest matters without compassion.
6.     Folks will try to tell you about “sin” or money being the root of all evil, but in truth, the only devil is SUGAR.
7.     If I die today, not a soul will remember how well I taught restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. They will only remember what kind of human being I am. Don’t get stuck thinking you ARE what you DO (see #1).
Our baby son, with his oldest brother.
8.     Sometimes, your heart will feel like it’s breaking. This is not the end. Sadness can be beautiful, too. Broken hearts remind you that you’re a good and decent human being. If your heart never breaks, THEN you should worry.
9.     Sing every day. Dance often. Always have at least two books going. Write letters and mail them. Stop texting and TALK to people. Learn to make a good pie crust.
10.   Love whomever you want. As long as they’re of consenting age and not your immediate family (we want MOVING water in the gene pool), don’t worry about what others think. And don’t be a doormat—you deserve to be loved back and treated well.
11.   Be nice to your parents. They’re humans, too. They’ve been through a lot.
12.   There are a few things in life you should NEVER skimp on: socks, shoes, coffee, cheese, and toilet paper.
13.   FAMILY comes first. Before boyfriends. Before girlfriends. Before parties or concerts or sleepovers or shopping. FAMILY comes first.
14.   TV and videogames probably won’t hurt you. But they won’t help you, either.
15.   This planet is a wondrous, miraculous, generous, fierce, gently rocking cradle. It can bring you to your knees. It can make you weep with joy. It can take your breath away. See as much of it as you can. And PLEASE take good care of it.

Our baby son and his new baby.
And finally, if you hear conflicting advice (even from your parents, because I’m still their mother, dangit), remember: always trust Grandma.

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