Do you recognize this girl?
This girl just knocked at my gma’s door trying to hustle her for change “to cut her grass.” Are you seeing the same yard I’m seeing???
Once her foot was in the door, she ever so kindly pointed out my grandma had a package on her doorstep and offered to bring it inside. She almost made it inside if it hadn’t been for me screaming on the Nest cam….
First, I asked, “Can I help you?” but by that time my grandma had already made it to the door. As she weasels her way into the door way, leaning against the screen door, I felt my blood boiling and heat rushing to my cheeks. I screamed through the Nest cam, “YOU NEED TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW before I CALL THE POLICE!” When I could see that wasn’t working, I started calling Grandma’s phone. That’s when I could tell I had scared the ish out of the girl and she started to bolt.
She didn’t answer, but did call me back right away. And there it came. I unleashed a lecture of epic proportions.
“GRANDMA, WHY DID YOU OPEN THE DOOR FOR THAT GIRL?”
“She was just a young girl…..”
“GRANDMA, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF SHE WAS JUST A YOUNG GIRL! PEOPLE AREN’T ALWAYS WHO YOU THINK THEY ARE! Grandma, she could have come in there, she could have taken something from you, or worse!”
“Well, I didn’t let her in!”
“Grandma, I saw that you opened the door and she put the package inside the house. From now on, I want you to keep both of your doors locked. I have made sure that everyone who has business there has a key and I always call you when someone is coming. How am I supposed to keep you safe there, Grandma?”
Basically the same conversation we had when the scandalous Jehovah’s Witness lady kept calling on Grandma.
Looking back, I know it’s not her fault. She can’t help it. In her world, she is safe to open the door to strangers. She is from a different generation. And the part of her brain that tells her it’s not safe to open the door if you don’t know who it is is just gone.
It is a constant battle to keep THE GRANDDAUGHTER, the girl who is ready to go hit the mattresses or whack someone over her family at the drop of a hat, under control. After I flashed on my grandma, I took a few deep breaths, waited for some moments to go by and then called her back and apologized, reminding her how much I love and care for her and just want her to be safe.
Looking back, I took a situation that was non-threatening and basically under control remotely through the tactics I was already using, and then had a disproportional emotional response. If I had been “in the moment,” I would have realized that she was okay, she hadn’t been harmed. She probably thought the encounter was pleasant or a minor interruption from her typical TV schedule.
After a few hours, now a little calmer, now I see what I could have done differently. Instead of getting upset at Grandma for failing to meet my expectations (which are unrealistic for her), I need to remember that her “stranger danger” is broken. Instead of perseverating over the situation (it’s in the past now, soon to be forgotten by her), I could have just marked it resolved with a simple message or call to the police, and moved on with my life. Instead of wallowing in guilt for failing to keep her safe, I could have spent a little time thinking about how this can be prevented in the future (because you know I won’t forget).
I’m thinking so rationally now! If only I could have channeled this rational thought a few moments ago.
I think I need to take some more lessons in mindfulness before I turn into a stone cold gangster.
Watch the footage below. The moments of silence you hear are me talking over the Nest cam. You can see her face gradually change shades of red because she KNOWS she was wrong. I did notify the authorities a suspicious person was lurking around her neighborhood after my meltdown.
Hats off to the caregivers, who know how it feels to feel the full human range of emotions within minutes.