Monday, February 21, 2011

Junior High Memories, Ahhh

After reading my friend Aspen's recent post about hereditary klutziness (with a side topic about how her mother's behavior as a grandma is so different than when Aspen and her siblings were growing up), I hit the "comment" button to chime in. A few paragraphs later, I realized that since I already hold the record for the longest blog comment ever -- on my friend Emily's blog -- I really don't need to keep competing with myself. I decided I better come over here to my own blog and expand that comment into a post instead.

Aspen's statements about Mom vs. Grandma behavior definitely ring true. Our moms have gone soft in their grandmotherhood! They never would have checked us out from school if we were ill, or if we were significantly but not seriously injured on the playground. Other than a broken bone popping out of your skin, nothing was a worthy reason for going home from school -- even something as traumatizing as being knocked unconscious or as painful and embarrassing as a completely bloodied face.

But what if one of our children called Grandma from school today with the same "minor" injury? Here's what I envision:

Grandma would drop everything and rush right to the school, check the child out, slap a magnetic ambulance light on the top of her car, drive like a madwoman back to her house (with a crazy swing through the Wendy's drive-thru on the way), carry the invalid to the master suite, and arrange the poor dear in the king-sized bed using all twelve throw pillows for maximum comfort.

Then the precious grandchild would get to choose whatever entertainment would best ease the pain, to be enjoyed while Grandma alternated between rubbing the poor dear's feet and spoon-feeding him or her small bites of Frosty (the expensive kind with the mix-ins).

As for the entertainment...

Would your child like to watch television? No problem! Grandma has hundreds of channels on cable now, even though you grew up with five fuzzy channels courtesy of the rabbit ears perched precariously on top of the television, or with no television channels at all.

Maybe your child has a favorite movie that would help him or her feel better? That's easy! Grandma has her own copy of each grandkid's favorite in her extensive DVD and Blu-ray collection. But, oh dear! The requested movie has been lent it out to your sister's kids! Whatever will Grandma do? She'll call Grandpa into duty, of course! He can buy the movie on his way home from work. He's already on his way, even though it's only one-thirty. He told the office he needed to attend to an emergency at home. He'll just pick up a copy of the movie -- whichever version is most expensive and has the most bonus features -- at Walmart when he stops to buy a few of your child's favorite treats. Nevermind that Grandma could just check if the movie is viewable On Demand from Comcast (they have that), or see if it's available to Watch Instantly on Netflix (they have that, too), or that Grandpa could rent it. Buying another copy is definitely the best option. That way they'll never again be unprepared for this type of a situation. Probably should buy another copy of all the other grandkids' favorites, while they're at it. Some DVDs hadn't been upgraded to Blu-ray yet, anyway. In other words, long gone are the days of your youth, when the only movies in the house were a few VHS tapes recorded from the Disney Sunday Night Movie.

Maybe your child prefers Video games? No problem! Somehow your parents now own a Wii, a PlayStation, and an Xbox Kinect, even though the basic Nintendo you coveted in 1989 wasn't allowed within 50 feet of your house.

Your child wants a live performance of Broadway favorite "Wicked"? Even this request isn't beyond Grandma. She would make it happen by acting, singing, and dancing every role herself. Foot-rubbing and spoon-feeding (see above) would occur during breaks between acts.

There the child would convalesce -- ensconced in luxury, every whim obeyed, every wish granted -- until you arrived to collect him or her. Your mother would proceed to instruct you on how to properly apply a Band-Aid, or tell you that ice packs will help reduce swelling. Then she would send you on your way. As you pulled out of their driveway, Grandma and Grandpa would breathe a sigh of relief that THAT was over, comment that your child seems a little spoiled, then go back to enjoying their blissfully peaceful, child-free home. Meanwhile, you would drive the Little Prince or Princess home, your ears bombarded with requests for "Another milkshake!" every time you passed a fast food restaurant.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a little. I do have to give a shout out to my mom here. Though she was not a pushover (as most of you probably know) she did pick me up from school a few times when I had stomachaches during second grade. Of course, her hands were somewhat tied since I locked myself in a bathroom stall and wouldn't come out unless she was present. It wasn't so much a stomachache as it was debilitating anxiety about our upcoming move. But anyway...

Speaking of klutziness and memories, was anyone in my gym class in junior high when I bled ALL over the gym floor? On the last day of the semester, Laura Forsberg accidentally dropped her combination lock under the bleachers while we were all waiting for the bell to ring and let us out for lunch. I, being the smallest junior high student ever, knew I could easily get it back for her, so I ran under the bleachers to retrieve it. Yes, ran. Under bleachers. I hit the side of my head on a metal bracket, which tore open a V-shaped wound in my scalp. If anyone has had or seen a head injury, you know how they bleed. I don't even remember what happened next or how I got out from under the bleachers, but I do remember some classmates escorting me back across the gym to Coach Edwards' office, and that I left a diagonal river of blood in my wake. Mrs. Edwards sat me on a chair and wrapped a threadbare lost-and-found gym towel around my head. Students arriving for the next gym class crowded around the doorway to stare and ask what happened. This is exactly how a thirteen-year-old girl wants to be seen by her peers: wearing a blood-stained turban.

Someone ran to fetch my mom, who conveniently worked just around the corner and down the hall from the gym (she was also accessible through a secret doorway on the stage of the gym, which led to a practice room off the choir room, but I don't think the messenger went that way). Mom came and took me to my pediatrician's office (yes, an injury worthy of being checked out of school), where I received 11 stitches -- or possibly 14, I can't recall. A significant section of my hair had to be trimmed in order for the wound to be stitched. As the trimmed section grew back, it wouldn't lay flat with the rest of my hair. Instead the short patch stuck out stubbornly like a paintbrush growing out of my head.

This hairdo wasn't entirely unique to me among the girls of my class, strangely. Another girl had several short patches sticking dramatically out of her long black hair. I wasn't there, but this is what I heard happened. During shop class she decided to polish her shop glasses on a rapidly spinning buffing wheel -- WHILE SHE WAS WEARING THEM! Her hair got pulled into the wheel and, well, I think she's lucky she didn't lose more than a few locks of hair.

Can anyone who went to school with me verify that is what really happened to M.N.'s hair? Was anyone there when I bled all over the gym floor?

I feel like my ninth grade picture would go along perfectly with this post. But that's a whole 'nother story, and would necessitate the use of my scanner. I'll save that for another time.


  1. Having not attended school with you I cannot verify any information from your junior high exploits.

    I can, however, verify that we had those same 5 fuzzy channels and that my parents now have 5 million cable channels as well! As for the spoon-feeding of the expensive Frosty with the mix-ins: I can totally see Celia doing that! :-)

  2. I can verify this story, somewhat. I was not an eyewitness, but remember hearing about the bleachers, blood, and seeing the scar/stitches myself. Pretty gross. But so heroic. I applaud your helpfulness and of course only a handful of girls could have fit under those bleachers. Yea Short Girl Posse!

    And yes. I heard it from M.N. herself about her buffing her glasses and losing a HUGE chunk of her hair. Jr. High is such an awful place. One day I may relate my most embarrasing moment - which occurred in Jr. High. But as I comment for one too many paragraphs here, I realize this is not the place. (don't worry, I like long comments too.:)

    So I'll just keep going:

    And totally true about the grandparents thing. Without getting too sentimental here, I got after my mom once for not being her stricter self with my kids. Then I realized, it's their right to spoil and love them. And of course now I'd take it all back because they loved her for it. (She was actually pretty good about respecting my wishes, but she always gave them a treat when they left...along with anything else they wanted.)

  3. Ah, yes. Now that I have my own children, I see that it is impossible for a child to miss only one day of school in the course of 13 years of public education due to illness (which was my record). Seriously; kids get sick WAY more often than that! I can only conclude that we went to school spreading germs more than once. :) I had totally forgotten about the whole bleacher incident. Good times!

    I can say, however, that there is a definite trickle-down effect. My house is a no video games house. There is no cable TV. There are two offerings at breakfast: Cheerios or bran flakes (no sugar sprinkled on top). I hate to pull Amanda out of school for any reason -- not because I have any fear that she'll fall behind or something, but because it somehow feels like breaking a commandment. And I am DEFINITELY a "brush-yourself-off-and-quit-crying-'cause-you're-fine" mom; not a "come-here-and-let-me-kiss-it-while-I-get-you-some-fruit-snacks" mom (a lack of fruit snacks prevents me from being that mom, anyway...unless the date happens to be Dec. 25th, which is pretty much the only day a fruit snack can be found in my house). It remains to be seen how much I soften over the years...

  4. (Grandmom) Hilarious! I can only imagine what your mom Celia would say about her parents. I do recall her saying recently that we were quite strict.

    Your new family picture is wondrous. Thanks. Love you and yours.

  5. Wow. I'm not sure I recognize the woman described in this blog -- maybe she is a composite Grandma. Oh well -- I don't blame her for showering her adorable grandkids with adoration.

    There is something so wondrous about being a grandmother.

    Young mothers (and schoolteachers), are stuck with the necessity of setting boundaries, and trying to give kids the tools they will need for facing life's challenges -- when all they really want is to reach down the moon and stars for every child, just to see them happy. With grandkids, that last part is pretty much the whole job, and it's a good gig. You'll get your turn, young moms!

    Lisa -- I'd almost forgotten about the bleacher incident. Poor thing! I hope I fussed over you a little!

    (Can't help wondering what the mother of the girl with the shop glasses said to her . . . )

  6. Your post made me laugh so hard. Though my mom was NOT known for her strictness growing up she is even worse with the grandkids. Jackson never leaves the house without something from grandma's to ease the transition.

    The comment from your mom made me cry though! It's so true that we would move heaven and earth to make our little ones happy and so hard to balance that with making sure they grow up strong.

  7. I was there! At least for M.N.'s shop class incident and you do have the story correct:) I don't have any memory of the bleacher incident though! Of course that was between the time of the Annie sleepover and Car Pool Girl when we weren't friends. :) Can't wait for you to come back! Love you

  8. I was there for the bleacher incident, and remember the trail of blood across the gym floor. Good times.