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Being With Grandma

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How Life Played

During the summer months, sometimes during the Christmas season my folks with leave me with Grandma.

To say I loved being with Grandma is to define paradise. Yes. Paradise.

I am sure people in prison who had more freedom than I did living with my mother.

My mother watched my every movement and if she wasn't there it would be Gan Gan... my father's mother. I had no privacy.

From the moment I woke or was woken, until I went or was put to bed, I was under constant surveillance.

My first words were 'Don't' and 'No' and 'Stop' followed by orders of what to do, how and when. My brain had no use, it was Mommy who thought for me.

The only time I was free were those days with Grandma.

At the time I didn't have the 'back story', My parents wanted 'down time' so every summer they would run away and be free. Gan Gan would have been the automatic first choice, but it was Gan Gan and Papa who would go away from the end of June until the end of August.

As Mommy had to do everything Gan Gan did, she would have to go away during the summer. She couldn't stay home. Without Gan Gan my mother had no one to control her, for Gan Gan ran her life. To escape the sandwich of wife/mother Daddy spent his days at work or at the Gym, and took no part in my raising.

How it Was

The usual pattern was for my folks to drop me at Granma, spend the night, then go away. Away for two blessed months.

My father would not be there to ignore me, my mother not there to monitor my every blink, and come was Grandma who taught me everything.

Of course.... I had to keep it to myself.

If my mother knew how much I loved Grandma, how much I would to live with her... if she knew all the things we did together, she would never let me go back.

I learned that early. It was part of our collection of 'Secrets'. And Grandma and I had lots of secrets.

My grandmother taught me to rid a bicycle and to swim. I never let my parents know. My parents bought me a bicycle when I was ten. My father went to 'teach' me. I was bright enough to pretend I didn't know but learned fast.

The Limit

By the time I was fourteen I was at the very edge of running away. I couldn't take the constant spying, questioning, being driven to and from school, not allowed to go outside alone, on and on.

My Grandmother had let me play outside since I was six without a 'leash'. I was walking to the shop to buy things, by myself.

Imagine me walking on a sidewalk, to a corner with a traffic light. Waiting until it turned green, looking carefully, then crossing a street, by myself!

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At fourteen my parents still didn't let me cross a street by myself. I couldn't leave the house, by myself.

When my parents dropped me at Grandma and left, I spilled all of this on her. I was so angry I was almost shouting.

When I ran out of breath, Grandma said; "Imagine if you told them how I let you go to the shop here when you were six. You see the value of secrets?"

"I can't go back there."

"You have to or they will say that I poisoned your mind, I am a bad influence and your darling Mommy with get a restraining order to prevent us from associating."

The Plan

What am I supposed to do?" I cried.

"Play the Game as you've always done."

"Until when?"

"Until you are eighteen. Apply to college...the one in this city. You should be accepted. Then your mother will tell me, and I'll say; "Sure darling, she can stay here."

"I won't live four more years."

"Of course you will. You'll study your brain out, so you'll easily be accepted with your high grades. You'll take up a hobby like painting so you can be in your room learning techniques...."

"Oh, I forgot to tell you... Mommy's pregnant!"

"That is fantastic news! You know what that means? She'll be so focused on the baby she'll forget you exist! Think of it! She might have someone else drive you to school. Maybe even let you take a bus!... Nah, probably not... BUT! She won't be watching you every second."

I felt the sun rising.

"But you can't let her know ... you have to act just as you do now and she'll ignore you and you'll go to your room or the backyard... or maybe even be allowed to visit a friend...think of that! But you must never reveal any secret... primarily our plans!"

As Planned

Things went exactly as Grandma said. Mommy had Joey, and forgot I existed. I was 'forced' to do everything on my own.

I spent weekends with school friends who had lives, and was to spend a few days before Christmas with Gran. Blessedly, there was a storm the day before they were to collect me...and I missed the horrible performances on December 24th/25th.. not able to go home until December 29th.

I studied until I knew as much as the teacher. During the times with Gran we went over my advanced lessons, the books I was to read, so that when the term started I could have taken the final exam.

Finally, finally, I reached eighteen, got accepted at college, and went to live with Grandma!

For the first in my life, I felt alive, fully alive, fully ME!

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