Those Are Not My Parents

The "grands" bucket list ...
The “grands” bucket list …

By Judy Berman

Giant muffins and dangerous boardwalks. Just what else would you offer your grandkids on an outing?

They had their bucket list of things to do while visiting us for the weekend: zip lining over alligators at the zoo, rappelling down the side of a mountain and traversing a suspended bridge. Uh, no.

Instead, we searched for a muffin so huge it had its own ZIP code and tentatively walked along a boardwalk with no handrails over deep water in the harbor. Mission accomplished.

When their parents returned, our grandchildren excitedly told them about their mini-vacation with us. The “grands” held nothing back, including the soft-serve ice cream we got them that was five swirls high – not three.

I waited, dreading they would start singing that song Bill Cosby’s kids sang to him around the breakfast table. “Dad is great. He gives us chocolate cake … for breakfast.”

My daughter’s eyes and mouth widened. I knew what was in the back of her mind: “Those are not my parents.”

What their parents envisioned ...
What their parents envisioned …

Growing up, she thought we were strict. There were no sweet treats for breakfast that would send them zinging around the house on a sugar high.

A stroll along an unprotected walkway over water deep enough for manatees to frolic in? No way. We hovered over her and her sister until they were in their late teens like they were unsteady toddlers.

Like Cosby, she’s looking at me and thinking: “This is not the woman I grew up with.”

What can I say? I learned from the best. My Grammy set the gold standard for relaxed ground rules.

What we really did ...
What we really did …

Once our kids were grown, we quickly learned that breaking a few rules was not going to scar them for life. Pizza and wings for breakfast? No problem. Staying up past 10 to watch a nail-biter of a Red Sox game? Fire up the popcorn machine.

OK. Grammy did give my Mom a real scare once when we were late returning from the movies.

We’d been gone for hours. My Mom said she had her hand on the phone ready to dial the police just as we walked in the door.

“Where have you been?” she asked anxiously, fearing the worst.

Grammy, attempting to placate Mom: “We went to a double-feature and sat thru it three times.”

Mom: “What did you do for dinner?”

Grammy: “After the second double-feature, we went out for a hot dog and soda. Then we showed our tickets to the cashier and she let us back in.”

My Mom’s aghast. Aliens must have abducted her mother. That has to explain the odd behavior.

Come to think of it. That’s exactly the look Danielle threw my way as her son – exaggerating now – told her we’d bought them a 32-ounce soft-serve ice cream. (It was only 12 ounces.).

Fortunately, in their excitement, they left out the part about the … Oh, but I’ll save that story for another time.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Video – Bill Cosby – Dad is Great – Chocolate Cake for Breakfast 

Photo: zip lining – (What the “grands” might have envisioned for their outing.) Pfc. Jessica Y. Pacheco, an armorer for Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 screams down a zip line in Belize, Sept. 14, 2011.

Photo: Child pushing grandmother on tricycle – (What my daughter and son-in-law envisioned about our weekend) Taken Aug. 11, 2008. Author: Catherine Scott

Illustration – (what we really did) – Norman Rockwell – Gramps at the Plate –  The cover of the Saturday Evening Post published Aug. 5, 1916

  1. One in a while, my Mom would let lose and we would have strawberry shortcake for supper! It was wonderful! Sounds like you knocked one out of the ballpark with your kids!

  2. I could not wait for my to kids to have their own and get the punishment for what they put me through. But their kids are absolutely delightful. There is no justice in this world.

    1. Carl, I remember repeating humorist Erma Bombeck’s words to her children when mine were too fussy about what’s for dinner, etc.: “I hope you grow up to have kids just like you.” They did. And, you’re right, the ‘grands’ are delightful.

      But, then again, I recall asking my Dad if I was as bad as my kids were. His response: “No. You were worse.” So there you go. 😆

  3. When I was twelve I picked some flowers that grew over the fence of the places I passed on my way home from school. My mother was aghast when I handed them to her. No matter that they grew over the fence, she said, they belonged to the people who grew them. Decades later, when one of my boys did the same, his grandma got all misty eyed and thanked him for the lovely thought. As you’ve obviously discovered for yourself Judy, when a mum mutates into a grandma, so do her priorities. Have fun.

    1. Thanks for the chuckle, Mary. Oh, so typical. When you’re a Grammy (or Grandma), I think you do have a different perspective. Actually, that was sweet of your boys. And also of you to present flowers to your Mom. 🙂

  4. Okay, please do NOT show this post to my grandchildren. Mum’s the word. We do things with our grandkids that are much more exciting and spectacular than what we did for their parents, but your adventure definitely takes the prize!
    Even Norman Rockwell knew the truth: we’re so much cooler as grandparents than as parents!

    1. Your secret is safe with me, Marilyn. When you’re a grandparent, you can relax. Your did a great job in raising your kids. Your kids will do a great job as well, and you get to reap the benefits. Stress-free grandparenting. Woo-hoo!

  5. I’d go for the muffins and ice cream too over the nerve testing Zip lines over alligators. I used to be thrill seeking in my youth but now, my heart can’t take it. To freaked out. Looks like you and the grand kids had the most amazing time. Have a fun weekend.

    1. We did have a great visit, Island Traveler. Our zoo actually does have zip lining over the alligator attraction. But I might have stretched their bucket list a “wee” bit. My grandson, age 10, actually egged me on to write about “giant muffins and dangerous boardwalks.” And so I did. 🙂

  6. Ha, i know that look! Got it from my daughter, who had just returned from the US, when she went “Mom!! They seem more jet lagged than I am”!! Oh the fun we had 😀

  7. Hello Judy,

    The youthfulness, sometimes even the child-like space we like to see ourselves in can be at odd variance to how the younger generation perceives us. Your post, specially the two pictures, brings this out so well. And yes, as we feel so, we do use opportunities to demonstrate ( to ourselves?) how young at heart we we understand the likes and passions of the young, how we can participate and hold our own.

    We have this need to belong to the world of the young, in their fun and carefreeness. Could this be because this gives us an escape from our stoic and burdened existence? Or is there some other need?

    Loved the post and the refreshing perspective you have brought in through a simple, straightforward narrative.


    1. Shakti …

      I agree. I believe this may be one way for us to recapture our youth thru our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. A fun way to do so before returning to our work-a-day world. Or, it could be the comforting sense in seeing our children – now grown – doing a great job and we can relax.

      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your presence.


      1. OK, well maybe “everything” was an exaggeration on my part…but they do get away with a lot. It’s fun for all of them though…

        note from earthrider to Photography Journal Blog:
        I knew you were stretching it a bit. You’re right we have a ball as well. 🙂

  8. I love the bit about the ice cream being 5 swirls and not 3!! 😀 I discovered ice cream like that at the beach this summer – have never seen ice cream so high before, and my order was for a medium one, I dread to think how high the large one would have been! 😯 I wonder if they are hoping that half of that will fall off in the heat before you’ve managed to eat it, so you have to buy another one – a business strategy! 😉

    Maybe this sensible over protectiveness that parents have is down to hormones in younger people – protect the baby hormones? Because it does seem to happen with almost every grandparent, letting go of those fearful terrible things that the children should avoid! Even my parents seemed a lot more chilled about life in general when they were in their late 50’s onwards, which was nice to see. I never got to see what they would have been like as grandparents, but I’m sure they would have been nothing like they were with my brother and I when we were kids.

    And I’m intrigued to know what it was your grandchildren left out – will we ever know!? 😉

    I love that Bill Cosby story, I only saw that very recently, but it’s great to see it again! And hysterical as it is, I get the feeling there is more truth in that joke story than it appears! 😀

    1. The wonderful thing about humor like Bill Cosby’s is I believe it IS based on the truth. Then hyperbole kicks in. And what was left out? The devil is in the details!!! But, trust me … there’s more than one in this family that can spin a good yarn and stretch reality “just a bit.” 😆

      Suzy, I suspect you’re right about the ice cream strategy. It is a way to get us to buy more. Between the hot, blazing sun and gravity, that mile-high ice cream is just not going to last.

  9. Thanks for the recent visit and answer to what scares a turkey. I forgot that they are a table center piece during Thanksgiving. Now, I feel bad for them. Have a beautiful day my friend.

    1. Charles, you better believe I avoided that thrilling adventure at all costs. I haven’t had a chat with the gators, but they seem quite content. They have a nice pond and plenty of food. Of course, they’d have a bit more if only one of those zip liners fell in. 🙂

    1. If I am the standard you are basing “normal” on, you are indeed misinformed. 🙂 But, thank you Jane for reposting my story, and I’m glad you love my writing and sense of humor.

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