Lately my family has been joking about having a podcast called “Counter Talk” In honor or our conversations around the kitchen counter. In our house, at the kitchen counter besides the food that gets put out for a gathering, there en el mostrador issues get pulled out, hashed out, dissected and either thrown out or left for another session. Nowadays it’s called “unpacking” with the good intention of calmly discussing a matter. Pero at the Greene home it’s more like something slipped out, or fell out. Ya sabes, when something is on our minds, we carry it with us, bouncing around our head very loosely y de repente! Bam, it’s on the kitchen counter. Aveces, one of us, usually Emery or myself will bring that heavyweight topic and purposely and not very gently place it on the counter, saying “This happened and I’m ticked!”
What Does God Say About the Matter?
Through the years, Counter Talks have been therapeutic. We squeeze out every reaction, every feeling that comes forward because of ‘the issue,’ and we look for similar reactions from those at the counter. At the moment we don’t want to hear “What does God say about the matter?” Pero, pulling God into our counter talks makes them what they are; sometimes painful, beautiful, appreciated and refreshing. A veces, it’s one on one conversations but other times everyone at dinner is chiming in, contributing their thoughts to make sure all parts of the matter are viewed. While I’m on the kitchen side, working on something to serve, we are discussing a matter, and I will paint ‘the offender’ as maybe innocent or at the very least their intentions had no malice behind them, come on, they were not trying to hurt. It gets dicey when the conclusions come to:
“Let it go” Do nothing. God will make it right in the end, pero waiting for healing to come is so hard. Then there’s the other conclusion, You can’t just let it go, you’ve got to talk to that person, not about the person. You’ll have to ‘confront’ the matter and deal with it. Hijole! It can be dramatico, what if it ends a friendship? What if… All of this comes out at the counter.
When The Kids Grow Up
Nunca pense, that one day my kids would be “painting the bigger picture” at the kitchen counter. El otro dia, mi hijo was on my side of the kitchen counter?! While he ate his slice of chocolate cake and ice cream he said things like “Mom like you have always said” or “You taught us this” and he pulled God right into the matter! Luego, when we left the counter I received a text from my baby, ya se, he’s 20 and all grown up, his text reminded me that God’s gifts are worth fighting for. I laid in bed amazed at how much my kids hope in Jesus and despite their youth I was able to receive their gifts of encouragement and their challenges to believe God in the matter.
Este mes has been a hard month for me, I’ve wanted to run away, but that takes too much work, so I considered just crawling into bed to sleep “it” off and I have tried it, not sure if it helped. It’s been a month overflowing with every imaginable feeling surfacing and in me no strength to stop them from strutting. When Thomas, mi baby, sent that encouraging text he mentioned a “season of winter” Hijole! I’m so very thankful for the support God has given me, winter is my least favorite season. Pero, I am pleasantly and gratefully surprised that the support included my very own children.
Psalms 127:3 has taken a fuller, deeper meaning in my soul. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward” (NKJ)
My cell buzzed on Monday evening, Nevaeh my nieta was calling me, she’s right between Maricella and Rachel. She was the self appointed spokesman for this plan my three granddaughters concocted.
Neveah: Hi D’ma, we were wondering, now that we’re on summer break and all the testing is done, we thought that maybe me and my sisters could spend 2 days and nights with you.
…..silence…..as I mentally reviewed my next 2 days. I was tired and I knew I would be more tired after 3 little girls milked me for all I was worth.
Me: I don’t think that will work because you have church on Wednesday night.
Neveah: We can just come to church in Clairemont. Oh wait, it’s ok, my mom says she will pick us up in the daytime.
Me: Well ok, when are you coming?
Nevaeh: We’re almost ready and we’ll be there soon. Bye D’ma.
And so it was that my neitas kicked off their summer break with two days at D’mas. Talk about pressure! I know my granddaughters, they are full of expectation.
Right here I’ll interject a little of my grandmother “mode of operandi”. Somewhere in the transition from mom to grandma I didn’t quite switch hats correctly. I was a pretty strict parent, by today’s standards, ya se, sounds silly, but that’s what I’ve been told. I find it difficult to be an alcahueta with certain things. Turning a blind eye to lying, disrespect, disobedience or manipulation were never acceptable or excusable to me as a parent, but all of a sudden, abuelas sometimes ignore those things in their adorable little grandkids. “Pobrecita, she didn’t mean to lie, or disrespect me, she didn’t disobey, she just didn’t hear me”Hijole, that’s where my hats get all jumbled up. My beautiful little “chiquitas, bonitas” (That’s what my apa called them) are old enough to know my rules and obey them, sometimes (very rarely) in the middle of my ama practices when they are tempted to commit an infraction, I must warn them in my most sternest voice that correction will be swift if they aren’t watchful. Their dad, my first born, says that I’ve gone soft in that area, but as long as the girls don’t know it, I’ll pull out that mother hat occasionally and use my stern voice and to really bring a point home I’ll knit my eyebrows together.
Ok back to the pressure of 2 days with my granddaughters. They are like the energizer bunnies, especially esa Nevaeh! I don’t have a pool, nor can they be on the computer or phone constantly. Those 2 days were getting longer by the minute!
I had warned them that I was having company for lunch and they must be on their best behavior. Of course they needed to know what I would be serving. I decided to go out of my “field of expertise” and make fettuccine alfredo, it was their favorite, I only hoped my friend liked pasta too. I would serve it with a green salad and bread.
Making bread is a Greene family tradition so, I figured it was time to teach them to make bread. They were excited, I was looking for a better word to describe their giddiness but couldn’t find one. But they were, I had been worried that they might not last through the whole process or find it boring: mixing, kneading, waiting to rise, rolling and shaping it and more rising and then baking…Hijole, just typing it made me tired. Imaginate, here I go with a showing off moment. I was very proud of the little loaves that they rolled out. Their Tio Thomas, the family baker, would be proud of them. They were so proud of their bread making and enjoyed that little loaf of bread through the 2 days! Que toast, que grilled cheese, buttered bread, they tried their bread in different ways and loved it.
While I was enjoying my fellowship with my dear friend, chatting and just relaxing, they were getting impatient. Porque? I had foolishly told them that after sister Vilma left we would go to the bay. I forgot you shouldn’t tell kids ahead of time these things. I felt really bad that maybe my chiquitas bonitas had rushed her out of the house! Note to self: Teach the girls about hospitality and how it takes time to build friendships. Of course my friend was gracious and even enjoyed the girls with me.
We packed our bag with towels, snacks and sunblock and went off to the bay. They loved the moment we crossed Coronado Bridge, seeing the little boats from so high a view. Beautiful San Diego indeed! I purposely invited no other women or kids because I didn’t want to be distracted from my time with them. It was fun to watch them and talk to them. I forgot one factor though, other kids at the bay. A couple of friendly kids would moved in on our time, and after Mari scrutinized them she relaxed, and we enjoyed our time with them included. Our afternoon was topped off with a visit from their Tio Emery, who came to join us. That did give me some good platica con mi hijo. Acuerdate que, when they grow up, you must wait for them to have time for you. Thankfully, we do enjoy the time we spend together, our family.
Our first day was passed before I knew it, we were home, showering, eating more fettuccine and homemade bread and getting cozy for bed. It had been a successful day. I should say a fun day and enjoyable day, but I feel like the mission was accomplished. I was pretty wiped out.
After a short quiet time before they woke up on our second day, I was praying for another beautiful day. In my house, the girls wake up hours before their normal time.
Having homeschooled my kids I’m still one of those parents that looks for fun in the lessons of life. Again, I went back to my mothering days and used the simple everyday activities to make it a good and busy day.
Little children love to help, or at least they think they’re helping and so as moms we let them right? Pero yo no. Nevaeh spoke up again and said “D’ma we need to earn money to buy ourselves a hoverboard, we’ll need more than $100 each.” She also informed me that Rachel would earn money to buy her own scooter. So I informed her that I liked to get what I paid for. If they worked enmi casa, they would have to do a nice job. She has a way of looking at you, a mix between confused and sizing you up, her long eyebrows do the calculating. After a few seconds, the deal was sealed.
Mari cleaned in detail my living room-vacuumed, dusted and made sure there were no surprises under the cushions and then straightened the throw pillows, bien duro el trabajo 😉. She had to stop and serve herself a glass of ice water, ahhh! Nevaeh was in the backroom organizing the messy books that were all over the place, nevermind that it was mostly their own mess. Plus, she was to vacuum the backroom. She finished with a heavy sigh and said “house work is a lot of hard work D’ma!” Rachel worked hard at picking up all the scattered crayons and wiping the dining room table, she had never ever seen my table so clean! Mira nomas.
Then came time to recycle. I told them that their daddy had earned his first wages here in the recycling centers. They wanted to follow in their fathers steps. They crushed the cans, separated plastic bottles, then loaded everything into the car and off we went. I love the honest raw expressions that children make when they are in unfamiliar territory. The recycling center was stinky. The recycling containers were gross. While Mari held her nose she studied the people doing their recycling, just like her dad, watchful and wary, occasionally, her left eyebrow shifting upward. The two older girls transferred the cans and bottles into the containers for weighing, a dirty job for sure, I didn’t let Rachel off too easily, I was tough ama and she was instructed to pick up a can or two that had fallen to the ground. While they stood in line to weigh their recycling the bees buzzed around them, it was definitely a stern voice that I had to use to get them to be still. Those bees were making me antsy. As fast as we could we collected our pay, the bees and the smell ran us out!
We finished our mandados quickly because their momma was coming to get them and they were anxious to get back home to get their pay. Before we left the house we had written out 3 envelopes with their names and their fund name: Maricella Greene Hoverboard Fund: $100 and one for Neveah Greene. Rachels was a Scooter Fund $50. I had told them that they could make money in 2 different ways; ask for it or work for it. Nevaeh said “We’ll work for it, because I would feel bad if they gave us the money they needed for themselves” I will have to remind her of that when she asks me for money, although, now that I think about it, she doesn’t ask for money, she asks for things😁.
I’ve read a book about grandparenting, telling me all the “how tos” as far as activities, and dividing my time well, especially as my inheritance multiplies😍. Some grandmas, do all the girly stuff. Once in a while they corner me into doing our nails, but I hope I can teach them some basketball soon, you know, I used to be a basketball coach when I was in high school (that’s for another post). Being their ama has been my blessing and I haven’t confused my hats very often. Are you a Grandma? Nana, Wata or Ama? What’s been your experience?