By Chloe Yelena Miller of chloeyelenamiller.com
Do you have a child? Did your parents forget about your spaghetti-and-meatball-face-with-hands-wiping-the-sauce-into-your-hair-dirtiness of it all? Do they pretend that they always fed you nutritious meals, like whatever the 1980’s version of kale was?
Do they say that they dressed you in smart-business-casual attire in your high chair for dinner? Do they claim that they didn’t do a load of food-stained laundry every day?
Perhaps they have Grandparent Amnesia.
No one knows what causes Grandparent Amnesia, although researchers believe that, in order to continue loving you, your parents had to forget about the terrible hell-demon you were in your childhood.
When your recently potty-trained child calls from the bathroom for everyone to see her “super poop,” do your parents ask, “Why?” Do you go into the bathroom alone, representing the whole crew who refused to leave the couch and their wine to witness said epic poop?
Do your parents urge your child to watch the nightly news with them? Do they claim, “The news is never too scary for children! How can she go to school without knowing about child killers and chemicals in her food? She needs to know to ask her teachers if the water is safe to drink at lunch!”
Do your parents shake their heads when you open the door looking like a mama bear woken up early from her hibernation? Does your mother report, “We put you down in the crib and then you slept allllll night. Then your father and I would sit on the porch drinking brandy.”
Do you find yourself taking deep breaths before explaining that children need to run around instead of looking at photo albums of your so-called perfect childhood? Do they gasp, “Remember that beaded dress you wore to Aunt Betty’s wedding? You didn’t swallow a single bead you put in your mouth.”
Does your mother sigh a lot on the phone when you say, “Hold on, please, my child has a question.” Does she say that you never interrupted her or needed anything?
Does she remind you that she kept the microwave on the lowest shelf so you could reheat a snack you cooked from scratch the day before? Does she ask you why you need to send your child to daycare if you work from home? Does she remind you, once again, that you kept yourself busy and were never bored?
Does she smile while reminiscing about how you wanted to redecorate your dollhouse, so you used modeling clay to make new furniture before sewing hand-painted fabric to upholster the new couch? Does she remind you that you never, ever asked for help?
If your father asks if your three-year-old is reading yet, does he also tell tall tales of how early you started reading and how you amazed your kindergarten teachers by asking for more? Does he add that you specifically asked for the full Shakespeare volumes, not the Reader’s Digest abridged versions?
Do your parents wonder why your angel can’t stop whining in the diner about how loooooong it is taking? Do you show off your technological wizardry by pulling out your phone for your toddler only to hear that you never needed distractions while waiting for your pancakes? Do your parents interrupt each other to describe the many napkins you used to scrawl character notes for your first novel, even if it never was picked up by a New York publishing house?
Do your parents follow everything up with, “You really have your hands full with that one!” Or maybe you were the perfect child. Clearly you lost that perfection along the way. Lucky for you, your parents know exactly what is best for their grandchild and you, their child.
Or maybe they have Grandparent Amnesia. There’s no cure for them.
The cure for you is patience. That is to say, a babysitter who is not related to you and a night out with the partner who, of course, “Could have made more of himself,” according to the Grandparents.
Warning: Don’t get too cocky about this diagnosis, since you’ll likely get it, too. This is how our species continues to reproduce.
About the Author
Chloe has parenting related essays recently published in McSweeney’s and Scary Mommy. Her poetry chapbook, Unrest, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). She teaches writing online at University of Maryland University College, in-person at Politics and Prose bookstore in D.C., as well as privately. While she’s a resident of Washington, D.C., she’s in Florence, Italy, this academic year. She blogs at http://chloeyelenamiller.com.