Meet the Nonni. The Nonni is my fun, loving mother who adores her 5 grandchildren more than her time out shopping or at the casino…well, kinda.
Our Nonni isn’t like the other Nonni’s at school. She doesn’t sacrifice her whole day to watch, drop off, and pick up her grandchildren. She doesn’t run to every sporting or social event, and she doesn’t flock all over them-taking them to events or climbing into tree forts to have lunch. All of that equals getting your pants dirty, cutting into casino dinner time, and just too much boy craziness for our Nonni. However, our non-traditional Nonni is always good for a laugh, a hearty hug, and lots of “do you know what Nonni said,” conversations at our dinner table.
One time, after a week spent with my husband and his 4 brothers, #1 unexpectedly uttered his first sweat word.
“Oh Shit,” he said, as he dropped his juice all over the floor.
Here was my little 6 year old puffy cheek boy swearing! Horrified and heartbroken, I called my husband.
“He got that from your mom,” he replied.
“My Mom! I can’t believe you would blame my mom for this!! We were just with you and your brothers for a week and you’re blaming my mother!!!”
“Have you heard your mother lately? Shit is her favorite word.”
I couldn’t respond. I was so infuriated that my husband would blame my nice, sweet mother that I refused to speak to him.
A few days later I happened to be at my mother’s house helping her move something in the basement. The 3 boys were with me, happily playing on her car rug, when the table we were moving slipped and hit the floor.
“Oh shit,” she yelled.
Oh shit. The very two words that my oldest child of a mere 6 years had just sputtered out of his mouth days before. I stood frozen, my mouth wide enough to stuff a slice of cake. My husband was right-it was my mother. My mother, the woman I have known all my life, and the woman my children adore, is responsible for teaching my child his first swear word.
“It was you,” I said, in horror. “I defended you. I haven’t spoken to my husband in two days all because of you, and now I see he was right!”
“What in the world are you talking about,” she asked, her face scrunched in confusion.
“I’m talking about #1 swearing in our house, and you’re the one he learned it from.”
“Me,” my mother said, agaist. “I don’t swear!”
“You just said the exact words he uttered two days ago,” I said, glancing at the 3 kids who were now staring at us.
I placed my hand over the side of my face and mouthed the very words I was talking about to my mother.
“I never say that in front of them,” she gasped.
Back and forth we went. Her saying she didn’t, me saying she did, before she threw up her arms and spoke in the heart gripping way she knows best. The shortness and hint of guilt that makes you quit arguing and let her mishap slide.
“Well, if I said it I didn’t mean too. I’ll make sure to be more careful from now on.”
And there it is-the shortness and hint of guilt that makes you quit arguing and let her mishap slide every time.
As we walked up the stairs my mother caught her foot and spilled whatever she had in her arms.
“What the hell,” she called out, as things trickled down the stairs.
“Oh what, I can’t say anything anymore,” she sighed.
The kids come home with stories about Nonni that fill our dinner table at least once a week. They’re the same dinner topics that lead to lengthy phone conversation the next am.
“Mom, did you yell out the window at the boys classmates when you picked them up from school yesterday?”
“Who? The little hoodlums who were running up the street like maniacs?”
“Mom, did you yell at the woman in front of you in the car today?”
“Who, the woman who was driving like an idiot? She was all over the road!”
“Mom, did you tell the boys to shut up when you were watching me on the news last night?”
“When? When they were yelling at the tv so loud we couldn’t hear what you were saying?”
The list of Nonni-isms are far and wide. There is the time she discussed how her friend got a Brazilian wax with my friends at #3’s birthday party, the times she tipped a particular gas station attendant simply because she thought he was working there so he could get his teeth fixed, the time she agreed to watch our dog only to board it two hours after we left, or the time #2 asked her if she could take them down the street to watch me in a race I was in and she said no-simply because I had “too many kids.”
The fact is, the list of Nonni moments could go on forever, and if she reads this she’ll gasp and tell me that I make her sound like a monster. But the truth is, my mother’s Nonni-isms are what make us love her. It’s those quick trips to the store that lead me bringing her to just “one more” stop that ends up resuming exactly at school pick up time, the endless stops for coffee, and the fondest of memories and times together that make my mom the best Nonni we could ask for. It’s why #3 begs for her to pick him up from Preschool when I drop him off, why #3 begs to go to her house at least 3 times a week, and why #2 always asks if she’s coming over again to make him her special soup, that makes me skip over the swear words and occasional late pick up from school and love her even more.
The Nonni moments will continue, and I’m sure I’ll have yelled at her at least 2 more times this week for something inappropriate that she’s said and done. But, even after she yells at me to leave her alone, I hope that she’ll be around for much longer, and that our dinner table will continue to be full of “so guess what Nonni said today” stories for years to come. After all, what’s a little Oh Shit compared to a woman who entertains, loves, and cracks our family-and friends-up.