Grandma Duty

I have been more than six feet tall since seventh grade. My paternal grandmother was more than six feet tall and so was her mother.  So the tall gene runs in my family.  And I can tell you from personal experience that being more than six feet tall in seventh grade was a peculiar kind of hell that came with zero social life.  One of the teachers “fixed me up” with a date to the senior prom, and it was a miserable experience.

A few years ago, when the first of my granddaughters shot past me in height while still a freshman in high school, I understood the problem. Ditto when the next two followed suit.  Believe me, when the four of us are photographed together, I am definitely the runt of the litter.

But it turns out that my granddaughters’ tall genes aren’t MY tall genes.  Those granddaughters’ DNA hails from my husband’s side of their family and from the family of my husband’s first wife, Lynn Korn Schilb.  All of the Korn uncles I ever met were tall drinks of water, too.  But with the girls in high school, I could see the issues coming in their direction and decided to do something about it.

I told them early on that when it came to Prom and Homecoming dresses, I was the grandmother they needed to call.  And they have, time and again.

The first prom dress shopping excursion happened in Tucson.  When Lauren and I went to the first shop and the saleslady didn’t reach either of our elbows, we gave each other a look over the woman’s head and bailed.  We found a gorgeous blue dress at the next shop, and we were off.

Bill with granddaughters #1 an #3.

Bill with granddaughters #3 and #1.

So far we’ve done four homecoming dresses and three prom dresses.  Today we’ll be shopping for the fourth one.  The youngest of the “tall” girls is a senior in high school, and today is the day.  Now that the latest round of editing is out of the way, I’m looking forward to having some Grandma time.

After this one, the next set of prom and homecoming dresses are a few years away, since Audrey is due to go to Junior High next year.  That will be a different problem altogether—one on the other end of the height spectrum, but we’ll sort it out.  It’ll be fun.

And then when the lonely grandson gets to that point—a year or two later—it’ll be tuxedo shopping time instead of dress shopping time.

In an interview recently, someone asked me about what keeps me going.  I answered with the words “family sustains me.”

And makes me happy.

Now it’s time to fire up the Amex card and hit the shopping trail.

13 thoughts on “Grandma Duty

  1. Great post. Grandma (and great-grandma!) time is important, and they are lucky to have you there for them.

  2. Grand kid time is the best! I is so great they have you as a role model! I can see your lovely smile as I read your blog!

  3. I was 5’11 at high school graduation and that was taxing. Fortunately, my mom and sister were seamstresses, among other things. The difficult part was being strapped for funds and wearing 11 AAAA shoes!!! Only thing age did for me, widened the feet.

    While I went on the prom dress shopping trips, I was privileged to buy the wedding dresses for 2 of the 4 granddaughters. One tall, one not.

    Love the pictures. Times to cherish for sure. Hopefully, you are getting some rest after your travels and book signings.

  4. I have two granddaughters taller than me, but not 6 feet. Never the less I am the shopping Grandma and the take the girls only trip Grandma. We have had fishing trips and site seeing trips. they are both accomplished travelers now, both in their 30’s. Teach them to travel. And let the conversation roll to any and all topics. You won’t regret it.

  5. My daughter (and I, too) are/were not “standard” sizes. Fortunately I have some sewing skills, partly taught by a (non-school class) teacher but mostly from watching and helping my beloved Auntie Idalia. The whole trick is in altering the patterns. Julie’s high school orchestra dresses were among the best-looking of the batch, because I altered the patterns and because I knew to interline the sleazy required fabric. One was sold to someone else of a non-standard size, and the other, along with her Prom dress and bride’s maid’s dress, went to the Lavender Valley Prom!

  6. You did a good job in the dress shopping category. The dresses are beautiful and tasteful and the girls look lovely in them. Your granddaughters are lucky to have you as their grandmother.

  7. I made my first prom dress altho we didn’t really have a prom because my school disapproved of dancing. We called it a Junior or Senior Banquet and there was dancing after the dinner on the canvas that covered the gym floor. They did not want the floor for basketball damaged which was much more important to my small town school in Iowa then.

    Because it was such a small school girls came all gussied up without a date because there weren’t enough boys to go around. Parents really tried to give us a good time, but it seems strange now.

  8. What a lovely story… and what lovely granddaughters. I somewhat understand the height issue as I was 5’2″ at the end of 2nd grade and was the tallest kid in the class until 8th grade when one boy caught up with me. It didn’t help that besides towering over all the other kids I was painfully shy too. There weren’t that many kids taller than I was when we graduated from high school either. I topped out at 5’5″.

  9. I was going to start Spring cleaning today, but yesterday I received a copy of “Birds of Prey” Beaumont’s #15 book which I missed when it first came out and today I got Ali Reynolds’ new book “Cold Betrayal” as it was my turn at the library. What do you think I’ll be doing? 🙂

    • I didn’t include in my first message that I was grieving the death of a friend on Monday, the 6th, when I got these books. “Birds of Prey” got me thru the worst part last weekend. I wrote to the author about this and she said that ancients charged storytellers to beguile the time with their stories. It certainly worked in this case. Never underestimate the power of her words.

  10. You reminded me of my neighbors. All the women but me on our little dead end street were over 5′ 10″, and in middle school the only daughter before mine was over 6 feet tall and growing. She felt so ill at ease with her classmates she ended up being home schooled. She’s now a lovely young woman and has moved away, as did one of the other tall families. When a new house was built down the street the woman who moved in is under 5′.

    I’m off to get a book to read at the doctor’s tomorrow, and I’m looking for Trial by Fire.

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