Category Archives: People stuff

Grandma and the Lion

Truth comes out from the children’s mouth. Right. I trust we all have our experiences that confirm this old saying. Our parents may have told us what we said when we were kids, we tell our children what they said, and so it goes. Sometimes this truth may be easy to hear and sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing, mostly for the parents.

I have been told I was a straight shooter when I was a kid. That was particularly true when I was visiting my grandma’s house. I might have figured out there was more lattitude when not at home, more freedom of speech. My grandma was a wonderful person, loved by everyone and her door was always open to visitors. The coffee pot was continually on the stove and cookies baking in the oven. Or so I remember. It seems that I was a keen observer particularly when it came to her visitors. On one occasion, an older “auntie” had been talking about other people’s looks, apparently in a critical way. You know, so and so is fat or not looking good. I listened to her ranting for a while, then went to the rocking chair where she sat, looked her in the eye, pointed to her face and said and you have a very ugly nose. I guess I wanted her to look at herself first before criticizing others. Poor grandma, lots to smooth out.

On another occasion, I’ve been told, my grandma had a tea party. I’d been sitting silently at the table when her friends had tea and pastries. Grandma was serving the second round of tea and offered the pastry tray again when one of her visitors said no thanks, they are so good, but I already had one. To which I immediately replied you are lying, you already took three. Guardian of honesty there, and apparently had learned to count to three, at the minimum. I actually remember getting a lecture from my mom about not talking that straight to strangers, to keep a few observations to myself. I’m not the right person to tell whether or not that taught me a lesson, I might not be completely objective.

However, when I hear this old saying, I tend to think of our first safari in Zambia (See Lions out of Focus). We were on a nice morning drive in Mwufe National Park. I sat in the back of the large “safari jeep” on the highest, 3rd row with my friend and our son, who was about three at the time. A nice British couple sat in front of us. My husband was video filming as usual and sat in the front, next to the driver. We saw large herds of antelopes and water buffaloes, and a small family of giraffes. Very beautiful.

Then we drove quite a while without finding any animals. Our son had his new miniature car with him and started playing with it on the seat while we were trying to spot something in the wild. And soon we did. A little bit to the right of our vehicle, close to some shrubbery, we saw a lioness with three cubs! How wonderful and rare was that? We were careful not to disturb them, so we didn’t go too close. They were clearly visible to us, the mom lying on the ground and the cubs climbing on her, falling down and climbing up again. Fascinated and completely silent we watched them play…until we heard an ear-piercing scream: mommy, look a lion! My son had lifted his head from his toy as he realized we had stopped…and had spotted the lion. He didn’t want me to miss it! And poof, there were no more lions. The lioness hid her cubs and herself in a second. Luckily our fellow passengers were of the forgiving kind. Later on during that same drive we were happy to spot another lion, and we all got our memories on film. Like pouring balm into the wound…there she was.

Now I’m just waiting to hear what memorable truths my granddaughter might tell me in a year or so. I can only hope she likes my nose.

That Was Brilliant!

Wouldn’t you like to hear that enthusiastic proclamation? Particularly if it was made about you, lets say after you gave a speech at a reputable Association’s celebratory gala dinner or spoke at your old hippie friend’s third wedding? Or perhaps if it was uttered by critics about your first novel or your second exhibition showing acrylics on canvas? Or shouted by the crowd after you sang karaoke stand by me blue suede shoes at a bar in Ibiza or maybe in Bora Bora?  I bet many of us would – and lucky you if you actually did. Good to be recognized, kind of confirmed as somebody.

But life can be tough, praise can be hard to come by. We may hear something that sounds a bit like a compliment when our teenager wants to borrow the car or a co-worker needs us to cover for him on a Saturday night, but we may never really get recognized as brilliant. Most of us just have to live with it. Be happy doing half-brilliant things. Wearing the half Carat, so to say.

From time to time, some of us may need to wrestle with our hardest critic, moi, who has become very good at giving a quick punch. Surprise us when we least expect it. Pull us down on the carpet, hard fall, there you go, I told  you! What made you think you could do it? That’s hard speak, difficult to take. But pause. Before we get up for the next round, we need to recall who trained him. At the minimum, we drove him to his practice sessions for years, paid for them! And now what do we get? It’s clear that we need to re-evaluate the situation, rebalance the relationship. Exercise some authority. Moi, you will go to training again, dance lessons. Smooth and close, no more wrestling.

Having moi retrained, it’s likely to be easier to take feedback or criticism from others constructively.  Like if someone in the karaoke crowd shouts “they are two different songs”. We’d just smile and say “might be, but that was my version of it”. And if we are lucky, we may hear a tiny whisper that was brilliant! I told you!