I love my grandma. I really do. But she’s also a big part of the reason I had low self-esteem while I was growing up and why I’m such an insane perfectionist to this day.
Expressing her feelings has never come easily to my grandma. So, in order to prove her love to me, she bought me things. I had an entire stable full of My Little Ponies, including the Pony Palace. She was convinced that Beanie Babies were going to pay for my college education, so she bought me pretty much every Beanie Baby ever, including ones that were “retired” and cost $50 each at mall kiosks. At report card time, each A earned me $25 and each B earned me, “You’ll have to do better next time, honey.” I wanted her approval, so I, of course, tried harder next time.
But after a while, it got harder and harder to please her. She was constantly trying to push me into doing things or wearing things I didn’t want to because that’s what “all the other girls were doing/wearing.” She tried to talk me into a perm when I was in middle school. I would’ve looked like a poodle. I tried contacts in high school because she told me I looked so much better without my glasses. To her, my hair has ALWAYS looked better longer. I think she would have rather have to bail me out of jail than see me cut my hair. Even to this day, every time I see her, she scrutinizes my hair to see if it’s shorter than it was the last time she saw me.
She hated that I never went to church. To her, going to church made one a good person. She always compared me to this girl from my class who went to church every weekend, saying that she was SUCH A NICE GIRL. Well, that nice girl now has three children by three different fathers and has been in and out of jail for bar fights. Going to church definitely made her a MUCH better person, as you can see.
My grandma is convinced that anyone I meet on the internet is going to kill me. I guess Winey is in this for the very long con and plans to kill me any day now. ANY DAY. My mom told me not to tell my grandma how my boyfriend and I met (we met on OKCupid). But I’m a terrible liar, and when my grandma asked how he and I met, I couldn’t help but blurt out the truth (though I did leave off the dating website part, as that probably would’ve given her a heart attack). Her response? “Ohhhh,” which is uttered in a highly disapproving tone.
When I visited family for Christmas, my grandma took me shopping. Remember that she equates spending money with love. However, my grandma will only buy me things she wants me to have. If she doesn’t like the pair of shoes I do or the dress I want, she won’t buy it. She’ll say that she’ll buy me something else instead, attempting to steer me in the direction she wants me to go. I think it’s her way of still trying to make me be like “all the other girls.”
During that shopping trip, we were sitting on a mall bench, talking about my high school friend who had recently met her boyfriend through an online message board for the disease they share. She was going on and on about how wonderful it was for my friend to find a boyfriend like that. Meanwhile, I was thinking, “What the fuck? Who replaced my grandma with an internet-loving pod person?” Then she turned to me and said, “You still don’t have a boyfriend then, honey?” That offended me for two reasons: 1) It’s like she thought that I wouldn’t be a whole person without a boyfriend and 2) I do have a boyfriend! I had told her about him the last time I visited in August. So I reminded her about my boyfriend and she asked what he looked like. I had a recent picture of him on my phone, so I pulled it up and showed her. Her response? “Ohhh. He has a beard then.” That was it.
Needless to say, I don’t plan to tell my grandma that my boyfriend is moving in with me at the end of the month (SQUEE!). She’ll flip her shit and maybe even stop talking to me. When my parents bought the house I grew up in, my grandma didn’t speak to them for an entire year because she thought the house was ugly and a waste of money. So I’m sure she will be equally appalled that I am living with my boyfriend who I met on the internet. I know she’ll find out eventually, but the longer I can put it off, the better. I’d prefer not to give her a stroke.
I know my grandma means well and she only acts this way out of concern for me. You know, like when she called to tell me not to leave my laptop on my bed any more. According to a news report she heard, leaving my laptop on my bed would cause it to catch on fire. I definitely could’ve lived without feeling like I was never good enough while I was growing up, though. Now I just kind of laugh it off, but that’s a lot easier when you’re 29 than when you’re 13.
I have lots of fond memories of my grandma, too. She would spend hours helping me style all of the My Little Ponies I owned. She always let me take the longest baths and showers ever during which I spent more time playing than actually getting clean. I would dance around her basement to an 8-track tape of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band for HOURS. She would let me wear her ridiculous costume jewelry around the house so I could feel like a princess. She’s never been a good cook, but she would make me Eggo Waffles when I spent weekends there and I thought they were the best things ever. I guess I just wish that she’d learn there are other ways of expressing love and they don’t have to include money or material things.