I learned something about myself last week. I realized that I've been a grandmother-in-training for nearly four decades.
Unlike how I was with my children, I no longer freak when my granddaughters, Tilleigh, 6, and Evie, 3, don't pick up their toys immediately after playing. I don't get upset when they spill or break things, and I don't get a headache when they argue.
In other words, my children trained me to become a better person.
I was sort of a clean freak in the old days. My children used to draw pictures of me vacuuming, because they saw me doing it a lot. I used to vacuum my way out the front door. Seriously.
Today, I've got a portion of my living room dedicated to toys, as well as two child-size recliners, a round wooden table and two chairs. When my kids were growing up, my living room was toy-free by bedtime.
I know now that toys get picked up (with or without my help), spills and breaks are accidents, and arguing is human nature.
I don't sweat the small stuff. Life is too short.
I discipline them when necessary (No spanking, though. Hitting my granddaughters would break my heart.) If either of the girls get in trouble, and I dish out a threat of a time-out, I most definitely follow up.
Evie, 3, tested my following-up skills last week when, during bath time, she relentlessly aggravated her sister. I told her that if she didn't stop, I was going to make her get out of the tub. My girls love water, whether it's in a pool, river, ocean or bathtub. Making her get out of the tub was like corporal punishment.
Still, Evie continued bothering Tilleigh, so I lifted her out of the tub, wrapped her in a towel, and said, "You didn't mind."
She squirmed and cried the entire time I dressed her.
I didn't lose my temper. In fact, I had to suppress a laugh because she is so strong-willed. Kind of like me.
For the next 15 minutes, my precious little granddaughter cried and called me "meany" about a dozen times (which, by the way, is now one of my favorite words). She was livid. But she's 3, and crying is how a 3-year-old deals with frustration. I get it. I wouldn't mind crying and calling somebody "meany" every now and then.
I simply waited it out.
After the crying stopped, the snuggling started.
That's one of the most beautiful things about children: They are forgiving and loving.
And, chances are, she learned a lesson.
Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at email@example.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...