I’m thirty-five years old. I have a sister who’s four years younger than me with two beautiful children ages four (girl) and twenty months (boy).
Last month, my niece’s daycare had a little holiday recital. I was really excited to go because this is the type of thing I was looking forward to seeing since my husband and I moved back up to our home state, North Carolina, from Georgia.
It was very simple; you’re not getting a full-scale production with four year olds, although that would probably be adorable. The kids came out with little Santa hats on, attempted to sing “Jingle Bells” and a few other songs in unison, kind of did it, and then it was over. Each child also had the opportunity to explain to the audience what the holidays mean to them – every audible answer I heard involved candy and presents (sorry Jesus, etc.). I couldn’t hear what my niece said, and when I asked her later, she told me, “I didn’t say nothing.” So touching.
After the show, everyone filed into the classroom to eat cupcakes and then watch sugar-rushed children run around and scream. This is when things went south.
As my sister an I were standing around, attached to each other as we tend to be during social situations (she’s the “outgoing” one by about 2%), one of my niece’s teachers came up to us. She said something like, “You must be the grandma!”
Yes, she motherfucking said that.
I was having a hard time processing it. I’m sure I looked like a deer in the headlights, but also with a lot of confusion on my face because, for example, I noticed that a deer was also driving the car. So, as I stood there, my bottom jaw probably being trampled by four-year-olds, my sister picked up the slack and said, with as much restraint as possible, “This is my sister.”
And then the lady gasped in horror and apologized profusely. HA, no. She had apparently already boarded the conversational “this lady is obviously the grandma” train and just kept chugging along, admittedly with a weary “why am I still talking” expression on her face. She continued, “Well I can see which side of the family you [my sister] get your looks from.”
Nope, sorry, we draw our “looks” from the exact same genetic pool. Try again.
Ladies and gentlemen, if this were the end of the story, I may not have even written about it. It makes me uncomfortable, as a lazy vain person, that I worry about things like this. I am indeed reaching the age where we as women start to try and turn back or freeze the hands of time, so to be told that my clock is a valuable antique is a little disconcerting. If it was just this one lady, who I think is in her twenties, I could chalk it up to a crazy misunderstanding – that maybe she asked before she got a good look at me – and let it slide (much like the skin sliding off my brittle old bones). But, sadly, that is not what happened.
A few minutes later, my niece’s other teacher, a much older lady, came up, extended her hand and said, “Are you the grandma?”
This time, I was ready! I extended my hand and with brow furrowed, released a sad, confused, “Noooooooo.”
This lady was so embarrassed and appalled at her assumption, she said she was so sorry and told me OF COURSE I didn’t look like a grandmother. HAHAHA, you guys are so gullible. No, she then told me reassuringly that SHE is a grandma, and then started listing the ages of her grandchildren.
Really, lady who is clearly at least twenty years older than me, you’re a grandma? WELL THEN EVERYTHING IS FINE!
I understand that it’s a nightmare come true to assume someone is “the” grandma and find out they are not. Much like I’m sure it’s embarrassing to ask someone when they’re due and they’re not pregnant. I have done neither of these things but I have once mistaken a boy child for a girl child and I felt like a steaming pile of shit for doing so. I didn’t have a loud, more-attention-brought-to-the-situation meltdown apology, but I did apologize, because I was in the wrong, and it’s just kind of good to acknowledge so that it doesn’t seem like the other person is to blame. What I’m saying is I don’t want to feel like an old hag at thirty-five so one of you being slightly mortified would have made me feel a little better. To me, continuing a conversation as if nothing happened tells me that OF COURSE I was mistaken for a grandma, and have you tried the cupcakes?
Maybe it IS me. Maybe at thirty-five it’s time to admit that even though I would have given birth to my sister at age four (thus being pregnant through most of my third year), I do indeed look as old as my own mother (who looks great, by the way). Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to you all. Here’s a picture from the day I attended the recital, what do you think?