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.

Or not.

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at