Friday, March 4, 2011

Glenda Baggott Tries to be a Tiger Grandma

It's kind of the saddest thing ever.

For those of you who read my essay "For the Ladies in My Mother's Book Group," you may well know that Glenda Baggott -- my mother, the hyper-phobic matriarch of my people -- would brag about me if I'd gotten early parole. She's no tiger mom.

So, when she tells me she's had a little private talk with my 10-year-old son -- and she raises her fist as if to say, I really got him pumped up -- I'm thinking, Really?

My mother's advice to me when I was going off to college was this: "It's hard. You can't read all the books. They assign too many. Don't read them. They don't really expect you to anyway. Get C's. In college, C's are really good grades..."

Her advice going off to grad school was this, "Don't fall in love with a poet." (I did so immediately.)

And, in a last-minute moment of pure panic, she blurted, "You'll be the prettiest one there!" Not that I was pretty, it's just that she assumed the other writers would be less so -- writers, after all, being the types to hole up in attics.

So. My mother in the role of Tiger Grandma? I'm doubtful.

She says, "Well, I really gave him a talking to. I told him how smart he is and then I told him that he has to be #1 in his class. All the way to the top! That's what I said!"

And then she grabs my arm and quickly adds, "Well, of course, I also told him not to worry if he gets a bad grade. I mean, we all get bad grades, and it's not really any big deal. And maybe there are other kids who'll be #1 but that's okay! I don't want him to get -- you know -- upset..."

Glenda Baggott: Kitten Grandma.