My mother-in-law, Alice, lived in our basement apartment for ten years. There were many fine things about this arrangement, chief among them that she was able to see her family every day.
We also got free child care.
The child care conditions included unlimited amounts of television as well as sugar on request. What better way to be a loving grandma?
You can imagine the maternal anxiety about this situation. Upstairs, mom is trying to make organic and nutritious meals and snacks. Dad is more relaxed about these kinds of details.
Parents spar in the kitchen.
“I don’t want him eating all that crap!”
“What’s wrong with ice cream for breakfast?”
Well, there was a fair amount of this crap being consumed – Tasty Cakes, Kit Kats, Giant Brand Tapiocas, Rocky Road Ice Cream. Not only by my son, David, but by his buddies as well. The children were upstairs downstairs upstairs downstairs, enjoying second breakfasts and first dinners, and no surprise they didn’t want to sit down for spaghetti at 6:30.
Grandma Alice was a strict Baptist, having been married to a clergyman. In her home there was no card playing, no dancing, and no swearing. TV watching and cookie serving were her only morally questionable traits.
Alice was also a retired elementary school teacher, and a master at not sweating the small stuff.
One morning David padded down to Alice’s apartment and asked,
“Grandma Alice, could I please have some crap?”
To which she replied,
“Exactly what kind of crap would you like?”