By now, you’re probably well aware that you can’t always blurt out whatever’s on your mind to the mother of your grandchild. (Not the father.They seem to be cool with advice).
Say she’s holding your infant granddaughter while balancing a plate in her other hand and the baby appears to be heading floorward. You rush over and say, “The baby’s slipping!”
A familiar cloud passes over your daughter’s face. Instantly sorry, you attempt to unsay what you said: “Not your baby of course! Another baby is slipping! One I saw out the window. You are a perfect holder of babies. I think I’ll just lie here on the floor in front of your shoes...”
So we learn not to say out loud what we’re thinking. What you say: Kids, these are your children, and I don’t want to interfere. What you mean: I desperately want to interfere. Two years ago you were throwing up in the washing machine after coming home from a party at 5am...
Read on for seven more situations where biting your tongue is by far the wiser course >>
SCENARIO 1: The proud parents announce the name they’ve chosen for the baby.
What you say: "Humperdinck is such an original name."
What you mean: Seriously? You couldn’t have chosen Michael or William? He’ll be the laughingstock of first grade.
SCENARIO 2: You have your two granddaughters overnight. You agree to make them take showers and them in bed by eight sharp. Next morning, the parent calls to ask how the kids’ visit went.
What you say: "They were asleep by 8 o'clock."
What you mean: We all stayed up until 11pm watching the polar bear movie and the girls slept in their clothes with their teeth unbrushed and did their homework in the car on the way to school in the morning, which we got to late, by the way.
SCENARIO 3: You and your daughter are in the grocery store. She is teaching your granddaughter to use the credit card machine. “No, swipe it that, way, sweetie. Oh, no, no, no, it dropped behind the counter. Oh, isn’t that sweet how the checker has his own pair of tweezers for these kinds of things. Oh, see, sweetie-pie, he found our card. Yay! Let’s try it again. Okay, now, can you read that line on the machine? What does it say? That’s right, it says ‘Is this amount okay?’ Good job. But don’t click on it yet. Let’s see if you can pronounce it in French and Spanish for me first?” Meanwhile, the line backs up.
What you say: "You’re so good with her. Almost anything can be a teachable moment, can’t it?”
What you mean: Is this wine we’re buying cold enough to drink it right here in the store?
SCENARIO 4: You install a car seat and have it checked at the fire department, as instructed. You pick up the baby. Daughter shows you how to adjust the seat so that the color blue fills up the little viewer thing to make sure baby is at the right angle. You drive to your house, three blocks away. Baby is howling from the back seat. Daughter calls to see if the baby got to your house all right. She says, “I hope it wasn’t too much trouble to use the car seat. It’s a safety thing.”
What you say: "Of course I did."
What you mean (with much sarcasm): She was having a meltdown, so I took her out of her seat and held her in my lap for a minute to calm her down. We finished the drive that way.
SCENARIO 5: The granddaughters’ hair looks styled by a speeding sports car, and you’re all going to an important family event. Craftily, you ask your daughter for permission to speak.
What you say: "Now, darling, you won’t get upset if I say a little something, will you?"
What you mean: I’m about to say something that will probably annoy you a lot. It’s such a small unimportant thing that if you get upset you’re oversensitive and unable to take constructive criticism.
SCENARIO 6: You’re all leaving for the park. Your grandson is shivering, and you run back to get a jacket for him.
What you say: "We were talking about the colors of the rainbow earlier, and I thought I’d get green jacket to show him."
What you mean: Are you familiar with the stages of hyperthermia?
SCENARIO 7: Your daughter calls to cancel your weekly babysitting. Again.
What you say: "It’s ok, we’ll just see him next weekend."
What you mean: Wait seven days? I knew it. My grandson will grow up not knowing his grandmother.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.