At least the phone call I got from school wasn’t because Goodnight was crying. The Drama Club production is history and hopefully the costume angst is history, too.
My phone rang unusually early, however.
GN: Gram? Are you coming to school today?
Gram: Yup! After your softball practice, 5:30, right?
GN: No, Gram. I mean are you coming to the school for Grandparents’ Day?
Gram: Today is Grandparents’ Day at school?
GN: Yah, Gram. Are you coming?
Gram: I didn’t know anything about this, honey.
GN: I know. I forgot to give you the invitation.
Gram: (I feel so important.) Did the invitation require an R.S.V.P.?
GN: Yah, but are you coming?
Gram: Hon, they want an R.S.V.P. because they need to plan ahead.
GN: Yah, but are you coming.
Gram: Do you want me to come?
GN: I don’t care. So are you coming?
Gram; (I feel even more important than I did a moment ago.) What time should I show up, hon? I don’t have any information about this.
GN: It starts at 1:00. I’m serving, so I can’t sit with you, but you don’t have to come if you don’t want to.
Gram: (So we could have skipped this phone call and I could be sewing?) I’ll be there. I’ll just skip the cake and ice-cream part of the day since they didn’t get an R.S.V.P. from you. See you later. Thanks for inviting me.
I get it. Grandparents’ Day at Goodnight’s school isn’t for the parents. It’s for one generation older than those who gave birth to the students. That presupposes that those receiving the invitations to Grandparents’ Day aren’t packing lunches for the student everyday and helping them with their homework (though obviously not the softball rules for the gym quiz), or taking teary phone calls from the student about white dresses for Evil Queens in a seventh grade play.
The invitations are for the generation who may not know where their loved one goes to school, hasn’t seen their art work hanging on the wall, or sat through conferences with teachers at the end of each trimester.
I get it.
Our phone conversation wasn’t rude. It was a ritual. We tend to un-formalize the formal because I AM the grandparent and I AM the legal custodian and I have already seen Goodnight’s artwork. I have met all her teachers, the principal (took two morning phone calls from him this year, in fact) and met the assistant principal, and I know the custodian by his first name . . . . . . .
Goodnight wasn’t being rude to forget about the invitation. It’s how she deals with – things. I am the only grandparent raising a student who attends that school. The rest of the grandparents got to drive in for the day, were escorted around by their grandstudent(s) to see all the nooks and crannies of the building. They got their first look at the new gym floor and . . . so forth.
I’ve seen the new gym floor. All the Fish Fries last March were in that gym. I’ve seen Goodnight’s artwork. We made a mad dash to the store to pick up some last-minute supplies because something went wrong with her project and she figured out how to fix it in time for the due date.
When I hung up the phone, I looked at my new wool fabric on the table, waiting to be cut and sewn. I chanted my mantra: “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up, we learn to our sorrow . . . “ Not a darn word in Ruth Hulbert Hamilton’s poem about sewing, but that can wait too. I took a shower, found something to wear that made me look more grandmotherly, and then went to Grandparents’ Day.
Goodnight was indeed busy serving. Not serving the refreshments, but serving at the religious service that we sat through before the cake I didn’t R.S.V.P. for, and the tour of the building I’ve already seen. Goodnight is the shorter of the two girls in the photo below.
Okay! I got to see something new: Goodnight as an ‘altar girl.’ They don’t actually use my term, but that’s as much of ‘religion’ that you’ll get out of me in this post – if you get my drift. And look at that church! Packed with grandparents – who probably got their invitations on time and then R.S.V.P.’d so they cold have cake and ice-cream.
You know how you sometimes get a subtle sign if you’ve done the right thing or made the right choice? I got mine when GN spotted me from her location in the above photo, and waved at me without ever raising her hand from its serene pose. After the service, she ran to me, hugged me tightly, whispered “Thanks for coming, Gram,” and took me by the hand to lead me to where her artwork was hanging on the wall.
“ . . . . so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep. I’m at Grandparents’ Day with Goodnight, and Goodnight’s don’t keep.” (with a slight alteration to the original ending of the above referenced poem.