“The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule. My advice to any child reading this: If you’re particularly good at the violin or math, for God’s sake don’t let anyone find out. Particularly your parents. If they know you’re good at stuff they’ll force you to do it forever. You’ll wake up and find yourself in a sweaty dinner jacket and clip-on bow tie playing “The Music of the Night” for the ten-thousandth time in an orchestra pit. Or you’ll be the fat, 40-ish accountant doing taxes for the people who spent their school days copping a feel and learning how to roll a good joint.”
- the bloody fabulous A.A.Gill on how school ruins our children. I love him, I love British humour, I love irreverence. Read it and cackle, whether you’re a parent or not.
This long weekend I’ll be driving 7hrs. each way to see my grandmother, who lives in the lonely depths of the most perfect little Connecticut village you ever did see.
I wasn’t sure I could face the drive, but she called last night to check, because a few weeks ago, I mentioned that Ailsa and I might visit her at Easter. She is 91 and she forgets things, a lot of things, sometimes in the course of one conversation. However this information she had not forgotten.
- Are you coming? she asked in her tremulous voice.
Ailsa looked at me, raised her eyebrow. “Yes, we are”.
- Oh thank goodness. I’m so glad. I might cry.
- Don’t cry Abwe, unless they are happy tears!
I can feel when she needs me to call her. I’ve always had this internal clock that ticks louder and louder if I let too many days go by without reaching out to her. Sometimes I ignore it, because she knows me well, and I don’t want to infect her with my bad day, I can’t smile down the line. But sometimes I call her because I feel so good that I want to send that bright strong whatever-it-is down the line and feed her with it, like a bird.
We call her Abwe. It comes from abuela - grandmother in Spanish. When I was a little girl growing up in Buenos Aires, I spoke Spanish, so I decided to call her Abwe - short for abuelita, which means “little grandmother”. She taught me to look at everything, to see how the crack in that wall looked like a bird, or how that tree was bent over as if to greet us. She was so far from little, she was so aware and alive.
But these days, she is a little grandmother. She is shrinking - voice, size, the energy around her. She is preparing to take up less and less space in the world. She will not be here much longer.
The smaller she gets, the more my heart recognizes how huge she is for me.
This morning the parking attendant near my office stopped me as I was paying. He’s moody, so I never know if he’s going to smile or growl at me.
“I admire you”, he said.
“Why is that?”, I asked.
“You have a child and you are alone”, he answered.
Way to start the day.
(I know he meant well, but the only pity I want is free babysitting. And more vacation time. And free wine. And a chef service at home. And a housekeeper. That’s all. )