Madeleine Scott was very upset. Her little grandson Harry wasn’t as bright as she thought. He’d just come home from school with his very first report card, and the results were disappointing.
Madeleine wasn’t really supposed to have seen the report card since Harry had put it on his mom’s desk, but she sneaked a peek. Yes indeed, Harry was very disappointing and Madelaine was sure it was all Helen’s fault.
Her son James was an extremely intelligent man, of course, but Helen was so quiet! Madeleine was sure her silence was to hide a less than brilliant mind, a mind she’d passed on to her only grandson.
That night at dinner, Madelaine kept waiting for James or Helen to berate Harry for his poor results at school, but they said nothing. After fidgeting impatiently for an eternity, she burst out, “So, what are you going to do about Harry?”
Her son looked surprised. “About Harry?” James asked. “What do you mean?”
“Well, about his poor grades, of course,” cried Madelaine.
Helen took one of those deep breaths that so irritated Madelaine and said, “Harry, love, why don’t you go up to your room and get things ready for tomorrow?
Harry got up, kissed his mom and dad, and hurried off happily. Madelaine waited until he was gone before exclaiming, “You haven’t said anything to him?”
“No mom,” said James calmly. “We still have a few things to discuss and options to explore…”
“He spends too much time playing those computer games, that’s what’s wrong! The teacher said he had trouble acquiring ‘facility wit the alphabet’…”
And how would you know that, Madelaine?” Helen’s voice was unaccustomedly cold and angry. “Did you by chance open the envelope with the report card that was addressed to ME, placed on MY desk?”
“That’s not the point!” said Madelaine crossly. “The point is…”
It’s important to respect other people’s privacy.
“The point is, Madelaine, that you are a guest in my home while your house is being remodeled and I expect you to behave with courtesy,” Helen said. Madelaine had never heard her use that tone with anyone! She didn’t sound so shy or dumb now…
“Look, I was concerned for my grandson…” Madelaine said.
Mom,” James said, “I think you owe Helen an apology.”
Madelaine gaped at James. Her sweet son was turning on her? What was the world coming to? Madelaine put on her most gracious smile. “I’m sorry Helen, I was just so eager to help with Harry…”
Thank you, Madelaine,” Helen said. “But please don’t interfere with how we raise our son. I’m sure you never allowed anyone to interfere with how you raised James.”
“Of course not!” cried Madelaine crossly. “But I knew what I was doing!”
A deadly silence was her only answer, so Madelaine got up, made her excuses, and hurried off to bed. Telling her off! Really! What was the world coming to! She was sure there was something WRONG with Harry.
He should see a doctor, and not that silly pediatrician Helen took him to, a REAL doctor. So the next day, Madelaine made an appointment for Harry, then offered to pick him up from school instead of James.
Madelaine drove straight from the school to the doctor’s office. “Where are we going gran?” asked Harry.
“We’re going to the doctor,” said Madelaine.
But gran, I’ve been to the doctor already!” Harry protested.
“Well, this is a special doctor, OK? I’ll buy you ice cream after!” Madelaine told him. And she did. Madelaine arrived home triumphant, leading Harry by the hand.
“Where have you two been?” asked Helen. “We’ve been so worried!”
“We’re fine,” said Madelaine with a not very nice smile. “I took Harry to the doctor.”
You what?” cried James. “Without our permission?”
“Really, Madelaine, you’ve gone too far,” said Helen angrily.
“You’re the one who hasn’t gone far enough,” said Madelaine. “Do you even know what’s wrong with your son?”
“There’s nothing wrong with Harry!” said James.
“He’s blind as a bat!” said Madelaine. “And you can bet he doesn’t get it from MY side of the family!”
Helen stood up and went to her desk, and came back with a small box. “We knew that Madelaine, we took him to an optician a week ago,” she said. “That’s why James was picking up Harry today, while I picked up his glasses.”
Madelaine blushed scarlet. “You KNEW? And you didn’t tell me?”
“Mom,” James said, “you are not a tactful woman or one who respects boundaries and so we prefer to keep certain things to ourselves.”
The reason Harry isn’t doing well is that he is short-sighted,” said Helen. “And that’s showed up now, and we took care of it. That is why we didn’t scold Harry for his grades, do you understand?”
Madelaine was stricken. “You think I’m an interfering, nasty old woman!” she whispered, tears rising in her eyes.
No, of course not,” said Helen.
“Yes we do!” said James. “Look, mom, I know you love Harry, but you have to respect Helen and I are the ones who make decisions for our son. And we are doing our best.”
Madelaine,” Helen said, “I was wondering if you would help me out with Harry while you’re here?”
Madelaine perked up immediately. “Oh, of course, Helen, whatever I can do!”
Helen smiled. She had a sweet and pretty smile, just like Harry’s. “Maybe you could pick Harry up from school on Wednesdays and take him to soccer practice? I don’t know anything about soccer.”
Madelaine smiled back. “I’d love to! I LOVE football, I’m the ultimate soccer granny!”
What can we learn from this story?
- It’s important to respect other people’s privacy even if you think you are entitled. Madelaine opened an envelope addressed to Helen and read correspondence that wasn’t hers.
- Allow your children space to raise their children their own way, even if you think you know better. As a grandmother, Madelaine thought she was more experienced and ended up making a mistake.