Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I'm thinking a lot about the word no these days.

Mostly because I've probably used it more in the 72 or so hours that I've been living at Grandma's house than I have in the previous month.  Last night I used it at least four times in the 3 minutes between walking in the front door, and making it downstairs to change clothes after work.

No, Grandma, I don't want you to drive me anywhere tonight.

No, Grandma, I don't want any of the ham you made today.  I don't actually like ham very much.  (This one elicited a semi-horrified "you don't?" response.)

No, Grandma, I don't want you to drive me to the c-train in the mornings.

No, Grandma, I don't want you to pick me up from the train after work, or the mall after doing errands.

My mom and I were laughing on the phone last night that this particular living situation is going to give me boatloads of practice in saying no and setting personal boundaries.

I'm trying to find humor in this situation, because I'm not sure I'll survive it if I don't.  (I will however admit that at the moment my sense of humor in relation to it is extremely sarcastic and perhaps a bit cynical.)

But I'm thinking too, about if I sometimes say no to her because I am reacting to her and her rather overbearing, smothering ways.

For example, if my mom or a good friend offered to drive me to do errands, in my current carless state, I likely wouldn't say no.  But Grandma makes me just a little bit crazy, and so I say no almost automatically.

I think, too, that I'm fiercely guarding my independence, and that I've likely come close to lying, if I haven't in fact crossed that boundary, in answering some of her questions negatively, to create space for myself.  I probably do like some of the things she's offered to cook or bake, but I'm not wanting to open the door to that, because I sense that once it's opened, it'll be hard to close.

I fear little things like the idea that if I do some baking, she'll demand the recipe, and I'll be eating the same baked good forever.  I'm not like that.  She makes the same few foods over and over and over.  I crave variety, even in my sweets.  A week of eating a particular type of cookie or square is enough.  Grandma doesn't understand that.

I pay to live there, so I have a certain right to privacy.

At this point I'm fearing a need to lay down boundaries.  Because it's hard to set boundaries when the person you're setting them with owns the home you're living in, is eighty years old, and has lived in that home for more than 40 years.

But right now, every time I go upstairs, even for just a moment, to use the kitchen, to shower, she appears, and it turns into a 10-15 minute conversation about minutiae.  And she's come downstairs a few times too.  Clearly if that continues I'll have to say something.

No is not an easy thing to say lovingly and respectfully when you're feeling smothered.  And two days in, I'm feeling a little bit smothered.

Life at grandma's is clearly going to be an "adventure."  (And I haven't even mentioned the whole blocked sewer scenario that we experienced last night.)