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.