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I will never forget the
first time it happened. It was a lovely summer evening. My husband and I
decided to take a stroll through the neighborhood with our dog and then-8-month-old daughter.
As we walked toward a woman
sweeping off her driveway, she stopped and watched us approach, smiling. I
straightened up and smiled back, preparing for the inevitable compliment about my offspring I‘d
gotten used to receiving and was never tired of.
“Oh, how nice!” she said as
we got close enough. “Do you have your grandchild for the weekend?”
My husband and I stopped
suddenly in our tracks, staring in shock and revulsion first at each other,
then at her. We stuttered, unsure of how to respond. Our unease clued her in to
her mistake, and she began to backpedal. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed.
It was the beginning of what
would become a regular occurrence.
When I had a child at 40, I figured I'd be one
of the older moms at the park, play groups and classroom parties. What I was
not prepared for was the number of people who would inquire as to whether I am
my child's grandmother. Or simply assume I am.
Truth be told, I do have friends my age with
kids in college. So technically speaking, it would be possible for me to have a
grandchild. But, really?
Do I look like a grandmother? I don’t think so. Nor do I feel it is the place of a complete stranger to burst my bubble.
Let’s set aside for the moment the fact my
child looks like a carbon copy of me, only with blonde hair. Kids can resemble
their grandparents. Do I look like a grandmother? I don’t think so. Nor do I
feel it is the place of a complete stranger to burst my bubble.
My husband tends to get the grandparent comment
more often than me, perhaps because he has gray hair. Overall we’ve learned to laugh it off. We tend to react
with mild amusement, especially as we watch people’s horror and discomfort when
they realize their error.