It’s Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Sinterklaas

, , , , , , | Related | May 30, 2018

This takes place about ten years or so ago. It’s the fifth of December. It’s a holiday called Sinterklaas, originally a children’s holiday where they get presents, but at this point of time I still celebrate it with my parents for the fun, even though I’m already a teenager.

We have this big bag of presents, with most presents bought by my parents, a few by me, and also some by my grandmother. Since I was little, my grandmother has handed Sinterklaas presents to all her children to put in the bag for them and their children.

We haven’t realised it yet, but most likely at this point my grandmother is already suffering slightly from dementia and the first few quirky things have started to show up. One of them is the gifting of odd presents that don’t seem to fit.

That is also what happens this Sinterklaas. My dad opens a present that was clearly from my grandmother — we can clearly see it from the wrapping paper; my parents and I used the same stash of wrapping paper, but my grandmother had her own to use, of course. The gift is a can of deodorant spray. Now, my mother has been pushing my dad to use deodorant for years, but he has always refused. He’s always been that smelly man you meet on a hot day. My mother and I give each other an awkward look because we both realise that is not the best gift my dad could have gotten, and my dad puts it down and forces out a, “Thank you, Sinterklaas.” After the unwrapping, we talk about it, and we conclude my grandmother has forgotten my dad doesn’t use deodorant.

My dad, however, is not one to waste gifts, so he says he’ll use it only on special occasions or very hot days. At first, he does this. We expect him to stop when the can is done. Indeed, the first few months after the can is finished, there is no other, but all of a sudden another one pops up from a different brand.

Now, quite a few years onward, my dad is using deodorant every day. My mother and I talked about it recently and we realised that with my grandmother’s most likely dementia-induced, misguided gift… she actually got my dad to see the use of deodorant. We can’t tell her this, because now her dementia has gotten quite bad and she doesn’t take in any new information anymore, but my mother and I certainly are very grateful for this.

Words To Live (Long) By

, , , , | | Related | May 24, 2018

(As my grandmother hits her very, very late 90s she becomes frail, and her hearing and eyesight begin to dim. Her speech also gets so slow it almost sounds like she pauses between words. But other than that, she has no outstanding health problems, so she’s doing well. She has just had her 102nd birthday, and we, of course, make sure to visit. Thankfully, her mind is still there.)

Grandmother: *on the topic of her birthday* “People keep asking me what my secret is. I tell them to just keep eating!”

Babysitting Is Just A Game To Them

, , , , | | Right | May 21, 2018

(Internet cafes are popular in our country with kids who want to play games in groups. A grandma comes in with her five-year-old grandson.)

Grandma: “Set him up for a five-hour package.”

Me: “Okay.”

(I don’t approve of that, since that much time in front of a PC is not good for a kid, but we don’t have a policy or law that would let me deny them. I set the PC for the kid. A few minutes later I see her leave. I am not able to stop her because I am assisting someone with her payment and the register is open. I just assume she went to the store next door and will be back quickly. A few minutes pass and she hasn’t returned yet. Around 30 minutes later, the grandson is already looking around for her and he looks scared. I ask one of the high-school kids around to check where she went. The grandson must have heard us and he runs outside looking for her! I run after him and am able to grab him when he’s about to cross the very busy road. I get him back in and he starts a tantrum and wails really loud, kicking those of us who tried to pick him up. The grandma comes back, angry at me for “not taking care of him.”)

Me: “We’re an Internet cafe, not a child care center.”

Grandma: *shouting and berating me in front of the customers* “Just let him play; he likes those games. I told you he’ll be here for five hours.”

Me: “He ran out and tried to cross the road. I can’t keep an eye on him. He doesn’t even know how to play the game you selected. I can’t sit by him to tutor him on how to play. I’m alone here.”

Grandma: “He tires me out. Just distract him.”

Me: “No. Take him.”

(The kid is still wailing on our floor, and the others are getting irritated with how loud he is and how he’s kicking anyone he wants to kick.)

Grandma: “In five hours!”

Me: “This is not a child care center!”

(I pick the kid up because he is in the middle of the store while grandma is at the door. He punches my jaw and lands a few kicks on me.)

Grandma: “Why can’t you take him?! I’m paying that package!”

Me: “The package doesn’t include a nanny.”

(I hand him over, his grandma still shouting at him and me, saying she wants that package. I cancel the transaction on his PC before she can drag him back to his rented PC, and shout for the next kid to take it.)

Me: “He’s crabby; take him home so he can sleep.”

(The kid was still crying, and there was no more PC where she can drop him, so she walked out with the kid. I had to pay for the package out of pocket. Getting rid of them was worth it.)

Bigotry Can Be Unlearned

, , , , | | Related | May 21, 2018

(I have always been very close to my grandfather, to the point we were nearly inseparable when I was little. My grandfather has very dated views on the world and I am told that I helped to change those views. All of these stories are told to me when I am older.)

Grandpa: *talking to his daughter* “I’m just saying that women shouldn’t be preachers! Y’a’ll can work normal jobs now, and that’s fine, but certain jobs should be for a man! A preacher is called Father for a reason!”

Me: “Grandpa, does that mean I can’t be a preacher when I’m older?”

Grandpa: “Well, I… That’s a bit different, Squirt. You’re a very smart young girl, and I think you’d be good at whatever you did. But other women shouldn’t do those things. It’s not natural.”

Me: “But if I’m smart enough, couldn’t there be other girls that are smart enough, too?”

Grandpa: “I mean, there could be… It’s just… Oh, forget it. You just don’t understand yet.”

(On another occasion.)

Grandpa: *to his friend* “I fought in Vietnam, so I know those Asians are good for nothing! I watched them kill their own people over there. One woman died right in front of me because she hid us away. They killed one of their own in cold blood, no proof at all she’d done it! They’re disgusting.”

Me: “But Grandpa, you just said one lady saved your life. She was Asian. Doesn’t that mean there are good Asians. too?”

Grandpa: “Squirt, don’t you go mixing me up now. I know what I saw, and those people were evil.”

Me: “Were the people who were killed evil?”

Grandpa: “No, they weren’t, but it’s just… Ugh, you’re too young to understand.”

(Yet another time…)

Grandpa: *at the kitchen table* “When I moved up from the south to my new schoo,l there was a [racial slur] in my class. I walked straight up to him and punched him straight in the nose! That taught him real quick who was boss!”

Me: “Did he hurt you, Grandpa?”

Grandpa: “He couldn’t land a hit on me! I got him before he even knew it was coming!”

Me: “But Grandpa, you told me never to hit someone unless they hurt me first!”

Grandpa: “That’s right, Squirt, but sometimes you just have to show who’s stronger.”

Me: “You told me the bigger person is the one who can solve things without hurting people.”

Grandpa: *thoughtful pause* “You’re right. You remember not to hit people now, you hear?”

(Years later when I heard these stories, I asked my Grandpa about them. He said he learned some valuable lessons from me about discrimination, violence, and how to keep his mouth shut in front of the kids. Every once in a while I still have to talk some sense into him, but he has come a long way and I still love him dearly.)

Death Of A Sale(sman)

, , , , | | Related | May 17, 2018

(Around the time I was born my grandmother and grandfather got divorced. Some years after this, my grandmother decides to change back to her maiden name instead of keeping her married name. This ends up causing some confusion. One time in particular, with a phone salesman…)

Phone Salesman: “Is this [Grandmother’s Old Married Name]?”

(My grandmother, not thinking through what she’s saying:)

Grandmother: “There isn’t any [Grandmother’s Old Married Name] anymore.”

Phone Salesman: “Oh, sorry! My condolences!”

(My grandmother didn’t bother correcting him, and she was quite happy with not getting any more phone calls from them.)

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