My grandmother was always trying to protect me when I was a kid. I could be pretty wild and impulsive when I wanted to, but I always listened well when told what to do.
As I grew older, I realized that not everything she told me was true. She would often warn me of things and come up with crazy stories to back up her warnings. Some of the warnings I would pass along to my friends (about the crazy deer in the woods, for example).
She always told me I had to be careful not to sit on clothes hangers if they had fallen onto the bed or the couch, because they could end up in my stomach. I think I was 12 or 13 before I asked my aunt “how could they get into my stomach?” She laughed. Grandma had told her similar things as a child. I then asked my grandmother what she meant. She told me “well, the hangers can be very sharp. They cut through your skin.” But somehow, I knew deep down that wasn’t the message she had been trying to convey.
Another thing she taught me was that soda was good for you. One summer, I wasn’t drinking enough liquids and my grandmother was afraid I would get dehydrated. She would place a glass bottle of Tom & Jerry soda in front of me and, before going out to play, I had to drink at least half of it (or down to the ears of Tom the cat). The soda was a nauseating pink (the food coloring is now prohibited) and the bubbles made me want to cry as they irritated the inside of my nose.
Swimming, of course, was not allowed until one hour after dinner. This has been proven to be a common myth parents use to get some quiet time after dinner. My grandma even went as far as to say that I couldn’t take a bath until at least an hour after dinner. Which mean that sometimes I took a bath pretty late and then went straight to bed, wet hair and all.
In the summers, however, I had to always put water on my head when being out in the sun. This helped me stay cool, grandma said. While it’s true it made me feel a bit better when it was hot, she always made me think this was a law or something. Then I realized none of my friends’ parents made them dip their heads in the water before they were allowed to run around outside.
Once grandma gets something into her head, it sticks there. I got sick from the smell of paint once when I was 6. She is now very concerned about my home improvement projects, constantly asking me how we can live in the condo while we are painting. As I try to explain that it really doesn’t smell that bad, paint nowadays has improved greatly, etc., she hits me with the one line you can’t argue: “Well, sweetie, you know I just want what’s best for you.”