While we were out of town last week, all of us, minus our youngest, Norah, went to an indoor trampoline park. There are benches on a platform just off the trampoline floor where those not jumping can sit and look bored while everyone else has fun.
I kept noticing a well-dressed grandmother watching me and Garrett and the kids. I assumed it was because Garrett and I were pretty much the only adults jumping and looked like idiots. I didn’t give it much thought and just smiled at her when we made eye contact which was about 15 times.
After about half an hour, I went over to the benches where the grandmother lady was sitting but sat a couple of benches down from her. She walked over and sat next to me.
Grandmother lady: “I hope I’m not bothering you, I just wanted to say I think it’s great how you and your husband are out there with your kids. I’d like to be jumping but I can’t on account of my bad knees. I just don’t see too many parents play with their kids anymore.”
Me: “Oh, thank you. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not often that we find something that we can all do at the same time and have fun…especially with the age differences.”
Grandmother lady: “If you don’t mind me asking, how many children do you have? I’ve counted at least four.”
Me: “We have six. From 13 years old to 18 months. Our youngest isn’t here with us.”
Grandmother lady: “Oh, my! That’s a lot of kids. My husband and I had 3 boys. That was all I could handle. I never did get the girl I wanted. Looks like you mostly have girls?”
Me: “Yes, M’am. Four girls and two boys. They’re definitely different, boys and girls.”
Grandmother lady: “I always wanted a little girl I could dress up and make dresses for and have tea parties…”
I was listening to Grandmother lady when Mia walked over.
Mia (steadily tapping me on the arm): “Mom. Mom. Excuse me, Mom. Mom. Mom. Excuse me, Mom.”
Me: “Just a second, honey. I’m having a conversation.”
Grandmother lady: “Well this one (referring to Mia) looks just like you. How old are you, dear? Are you having fun?”
Mia: “Yes, M’am. It’s a lot of fun. I’m 8. Excuse me, Mom…”
Grandmother lady: “You’ve got such good manners. You don’t see that too often these days. I think manners aren’t taught to children like they used to be when we were growing up. You’ve got good manners, young lady.”
Mia (growing increasingly impatient and hopping in place and shaking her hands): “Thank you. Ugh! Seriously, Mom…”
Grandmother lady: “Go ahead, dear, I can wait…”
Me: “Yes, child! What’s the matter?”
Mia: “Where is the bathroom in this place? Hurry, hurry! I’m about to drop a major deuce!”
Our kids don’t always tell us what’s about to happen in the bathroom, but when they do, they make sure there are witnesses present, fully engaged, and open to having their definition of ‘good manners’ shattered.