“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Lynette called her mother-in-law “Grandma”. Gwen had said “Call me Gwen”, but it somehow seemed too familiar. There was a tension, a strain, between the two. Now with the arrival of Lynette’s first child, and Gwen’s first granddaughter, the title “Grandma” seemed to answer a need.
“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Lynette’s mother-in-law had brought along a dress for baby Olivia.
“It’ll be too big for her,” said Grandma, “but she’ll grow into it.”
“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Quite frankly, Lynette thought the dress was the most disgusting thing she’d seen in years.
“I got it at a second-hand shop in town. Preloved the shop said.”
“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. It had prints of burning buildings on the fabric. It was the last thing a little girl would want to wear. More suited to a boy. And what boy would wear a dress? And why burning buildings?
“I thought,” said Grandma, “that having burning buildings on Olivia’s frock would signify that we’re not caught up in this old-fashioned pigeon-holing of the sexes. There’s nothing to stop a girl from wearing a fabric with burning buildings printed on it. There’s nothing to stop a girl from growing up and joining the fire brigade.”
“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette.
“Look, Lynette,” said Grandma. “I think this dress is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I got it because I wanted you to know that you don’t have to agree with me. You’re the mother! You bring the children up the way you think best. And I can help in any way you think best. I know you think this dress is as disgusting as I do!”
And Lynette giggled. “Well the dress is kind of disgustingly cute in its own way I suppose,” she said.
Grandma laughed. Lynette laughed. Their relationship has not been the slightest strained since. In fact, they get on like a house on fire. Lynette has even started calling Grandma “Gwen”.