A Grandmother’s Gift

  • Pin It
  • print
  • email to a friend
By Andrea Goto

No two kids are alike—and this also applies to Grandmothers.

Though both of my grandmothers passed away several years ago, I was blessed to know them growing up—sort of. Neither one fit the sweet, fun-loving granny mould of the Betty White variety. We didn’t bake cookies together, sew dolls or build forts. My grandmother who “didn’t like girls” never really spoke to my sister or me, but she did let us play down by the railroad and shoot pool in the basement—pretty much anywhere we couldn’t be seen or heard.

I knew my other grandmother a little better. She at least had toys. We colored in half-used coloring books, waged war with army men that belonged to my uncle 40 years prior, and drove Matchbox cars she plucked from yards while on her evening walk—toys that belonged to kids “who didn’t know how to take care of them.” 
She spoke to us, but mainly in declarative sentences.

“Don’t bang on the piano keys.”

“Don’t start a new page until you finish coloring that one.”

“Don’t wrestle with the bear rug.”

(Can you imagine having a bear rug and not wrestling with it? Yeah, me neither.)

It was years before I realized that not everyone’s grandmothers were so stoic and stern. I believed they loved me, but for various reasons they felt uncomfortable showing it.

I’ve always wanted more for my daughter.

I wanted Betty White.

Messy, Perfect Love
My mother-in-law drifts asleep while babysitting and lets Ava stay up as late as she wants because “she never says she’s tired.” She lets her eat fudgsicles for breakfast and sneaks her candy when I’m not looking. As a lover of all things sparkly, my mother-in-law has taught Ava to appreciate the value of quality diamonds (I feel for the future spouse, I really do), and as an artist, she not only lets Ava sling paint and color outside the lines, she insists on it. Nothing has to be neat; icing can be unevenly spread, clothes needn’t match and fingernail polish on the skin is not big deal (shudder). She suspends judgment like a belt holds up pants.

“She’s an artist,” my mother-in-law proudly declared when Ava took “mix-and-match prints” to a whole new level.

“She’s a mess,” I said.

My own mother prefers things a bit neater. Coloring happens inside the lines and she has an eraser poised and ready for any defectors. She thinks all other children are damaged and, therefore, unfit as potential friends. But robbed of the experience of playing Barbies with her own daughters, Mom will play far longer than any sane person should. She also makes the mundane tasks of adulthood absolutely magical.

The chore Ava loves most is cleaning the cage of my mother’s ear-piercing lovebird. I would prefer to see it roasted on a plate with a blackberry reduction, but Ava and my mother tend to that downy devil like it’s their job, complete with benefits and a retirement plan.

They painted a fence together without spilling a drop. They made perfectly proportionate paper dolls. If Mom had a bear rug, I’m not sure she would let Ava wrestle it, but she would let her clean it.

My mother-in-law would let her paint it.

To Each Her Own
My daughter did not get Betty White for a grandmother. She did even better. Both of her grandmothers have their respective strengths, and they are united in that they, like my husband and I, think Ava is the best thing since cordless phones. These women give my daughter something I cannot, and something that I did not get from my grandmothers. Watching her talk to them, explore with them, and love them makes my heart fill up—and it also makes me a little envious. Luckily, we want for our children more than we want for ourselves.

I truly believe that my grandmothers gave what they were capable of giving, but it’s a blessing to see Ava’s grandmothers give so much more.

Read More From Blogs.

Read More From Andrea Goto.

You May Also Like These Blogs:

You May Also Like These Recipes:

Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


I have 5 beautiful grandchildren and love them all dearly. I tell them when ever I can "Do you know how much I Love You?), I want them to know that. I love doing all things with my grandkids as I tried to do with my own children. I do follow the "Parents Laws" but what happens at Mema & Papas, stays at Mema & Papas! I learned a lot from just sitting in the kitchen talking with my grandmother, but we really never played together. I am a young grandmother (50) this year, and I want to be the grandmother that my grandkids will remember forever as being fun and exciting. And yes I am young at heart. But I want to start cooking with them, I have been given a HUGH bucket of rolled oats and want to make holiday cookies and have the youngons in on it, but all recipes I have found do not call for rolled oats, and quite frankly I'm really not sure how to cook or prepare rolled oats. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to post them. I've looked all over Paula Dean's site for recipes and/or suggestions so figured I'd start here.

By Mary Matt on September 18, 2013


A GRANDMOTHER’S GIFT by Andrea Goto I love your story -- especially about your grandma who didn't like girls! LOL Thanks so much for sharing it.

By Cathy on August 02, 2013


@jeff jones I never had a problem as yours with the porcelain cookware. It works wonderful for me. I absolutely love my set, and would not trade them for anything. No sticking, tight fitting lids, makes frying a breeze. Thanks for the wonderful cooking set Paula! It is truly a great set well worth the price (the price is great also).

By Tiffany on July 29, 2013


I bought Paula Dean's collection signature porcelain nonstick cookware for my daughter for christmas. One pot was out of round and the lid would not fit. As we used the cookware more pots became out of round,soon all the pots became out of round and none of the lids would fit! We are all very unhappy with this cookware!! I will never buy any of these products again!!

By jeff jones on July 27, 2013

Paula Deen
Paula Deen
The Lady's Blog
The Queen of Southern Cuisine muses about her recipes, life and family. See Posts

Brooke Deen
Brooke Deen
Deen Mother
Advice on raising two boys (three counting Jamie). See Posts

Brandon Branch
Brandon Branch
Southern Style
Decorating Inspiration from Paula's Design Director. See Posts

Julia Sayers
Julia Sayers
Hot off the Press
Step behind the pages and let the Associate Editor of Cooking with Paula Deen fill you in on what goes into creating every issue. See Posts

Lisa Scarbrough
Lisa Scarbrough
Thrift Store Mommy
Mom on a dime advice from Paula's Digital Properties Manager. See Posts

Andrea Goto
Andrea Goto
Mom 2.0
Tips from a real-world mom with comedic tendencies. See Posts

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
Earth Mother
Practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. See Posts

Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Bubbles' Corner
Ideas and advice from a 21st Century young at heart Grandmother. See Posts

Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards
Southern Proper
Etiquette advice from a true Southern belle. See Posts


Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm