Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Wooing of Bri

OK. I'll just say it. Bri doesn't like me very much.

This isn't anybody's fault, it's the fault of a couple of unchangeable situations. First of all, we live so far away she doesn't see us very much. She sees Walt a lot more, so she knows him better. Laurel and Tom have done a wonderful job using photos and things to help her recognize family members, and she recognizes me, but she hasn't been around me very much and she has always been, since birth, leery of strangers.

The second situation is my own fault. Now that she's not so clingy and is able to get out and walk among people, I'm this huge woman, unlike other people she sees in her day to day life in physically fit Santa Barbara, and even tho she knows I'm "Grandma," I'm a scary person to her. I see it often in little kids in the supermarket. The kind of kids you smile at because you're a pleasant person and you love little kids, and then watch them shrink behind Mommy's skirt because you are Shrek sized and you scare them.

This is a secret which, until now, only she and I shared. If she is handed to me for a photo op, I can feel those little hands pushing her body away from me. She doesn't cry and she doesn't fight to get down, but she turns her face away and looks very sad. If she is told to "kiss Grandma" she will lift her face to be kissed, but wipe my kiss away as soon as I kiss her (and then happily wrap her arms around Aunt Jeri or Aunt Marta or someone else to give a kiss to). She's a smart little kid! Until now, nobody has noticed and I have never said anything.

I also try not to force myself on her because I know she doesn't like it. I had a grandmother whom I did not like, and one reason I didn't like her was that she loved me and smothered me. I'm not going to do that to Bri. The best visits I've had with her were when I was able to drop by the house and just sit there watching her play, interacting when she wanted to, but to just let her be. I take lots of pictures because that is one thing she will let me do, without feeling threatened.

I only bring this up because I've decided to take charge of the situation.

In the last couple of days I've found a few web sites where grandmothers talk about their relations with their grandkids. Some of these grandmothers live at a distance and have had to learn how to make a relationship with the grandchild, even though miles prevent them from being around all the time.

I don't want to be the grandma who showers Bri with expensive toys (well, other than at birthdays and Christmas), but I also want to be a presence in her life, and I am learning from these seasoned grandmothers how I can do it.

On Friday, I sent her a card telling her I am coming to her birthday party. Inside the card, I pasted my picture.

There are lots of opportunities to make a card and send it to her on a regular basis. I will figure out the best way to do that as time passes.

There are also lots of e-card sites on the internet where I can find something cute that might hold her attention and I can send e-cards.

I can also make videos for her, and that's the reason why I'm writing this entry. I'm thinking of putting together a video every couple of weeks or so, just little silly things like playing peek-a-boo with her, or reading her a short story. I know the ideas will come as I get into the project. It's something to make me a familiar person, not just a picture on the wall, and maybe somebody that she thinks of as fun, eventually.

So today I decided to try one of the ideas someone suggested and I sat down to make a very short video playing peek-a-boo with her. And...well...you'll have to look at the Video of the Day to see how it turned out. (I'm not posting to You Tube, only to Vimeo because, well, it's kind of embarrassing and Vimeo has a much smaller audience!)

(In addition to everything else--where did I get those old, old looking hands??)

I'm really kind of jazzed about my new project (I'm always about finding creative new projects). I'm hoping that as time passes Bri and I will eventually have this "thing" between us, with the things I'm able to create and send to her, even when I can't be there. And I know that eventually she will be happy to see me when I show up. It's just going to take more time and work. Unless you're a parent or a caretaker, babies don't instantly love you just because you're related.


Lise said...

The peek-a-boo video is a great idea. I have a grandbaby who will likely be moving away when she is two. I'm already planning to record books on CD and make videos of me reading to her.

harrietv said...

One thing I learned about the Adorable Ms. Lila is that she loves to tear paper. (As in, don't put down the placemats in a restaurant until you're ready to put plates on them, because she will tear them all.)

So I've begun sending her cards -- uh huh -- having told her parents that there's nothing of value in there and she can open them herself. They sent me an cute picture of her opening her Valentine. Obviously, the tearable envelope was more interesting than the card with the picture.

It's not that far away, really, except that I can't drive highways any more. We will resolve it somehow.

jon said...

Funny video. You had me chuckling. I will try to make a movie with Wilson some time. It will be successful if some kind of food is involved.

jon said...

Obviously Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, and Benji were not available.