Faces stare blankly at teachers shouting out directions en Español. Pantsuits sit on the edge of desk chairs while manicured hands clutching thrice-used hankies lie folded on tan plastic desks. Musky, floral perfume radiates through hallways and between locker grates while endless elevator lines cause increasingly more traffic in the already over congested hallways. We saunter into class five, ten, even twenty minutes late with a nod and maybe a wink, and receive no, “Qué cara tienes?” Not even a disapproving glare, because it’s all perfectly explainable: patent shoes tap half inch heels, cookie crumbs collide onto speckled laminate, and notebooks may even emerge as we take our seats on the floor.
What’s the explanation you may ask? No, we are not dabbing our freshly fuchsia lipsticked mouths floral hankies, nor or we slipping opaque tan stockings from Anne Klein flats—Grandparents’ Day has arrived again!
For years I looked forward to the day when I could bring G & G to school, prove my remarkable intelligence, extraordinary popularity, and, of course, my all around wonderfulness to my cookie-baking, scarf-knitting, child-spoiling elders.
The day started out with breakfast, during which fruit was compulsory put onto a plate for me, despite that fact that I had had breakfast last than an hour before. Three classes followed: two in Spanish, one in English. As I linked arms with Gramma (yes, I do call her that), directing her around the building, translating the goings-on class, even sharing grapes from my lunch, I felt a new sense of power, a control I had never experienced before. For once, I knew more than my grandma. Without me, she would be lost, confused, and possible end up in, gasp, the Lower East Gym (take two lefts, go up the stairs—as if that’s not confusing…) or, even worse, the band hallway.
Seriously though, the day was more than I expected. Both of us Seniors (ironic, isn’t it...), experienced an unprecedented power shift, a new understanding of each other’s lives. I saw her learning, trying something new, being vulnerable, while she saw me struggling, also trying to learn, while trying to maintain responsibility. Unlike years of dance concerts, theatre performances, or voice recitals singing memorized Mozart or Handel, I wasn’t putting on a performance for my grandma but rather showing her what my life was like. I proudly displayed my articles, photos, and layout in the school paper, showed her my daily academic demands, and, most importantly, she saw how I interact with people on a daily basis, not just dressed up in stockings and a skirt for Rosh Hashanah dinner.
While metal walkers, oversized purses, and even chains of connected hands overtook the school, the day was far from uncomfortable. Smiles and laughter broke out continuously; boring would not be a word to describe the hours spent with two hundred and fifty grandparents on Vine Ave. And although I know it was my one and only day to bring my Gramma to school, I look forward to the memories I will create from this: being able to tell her jokes about my teachers that she will finally understand, explaining my next class project, or even just telling her about my day. So as I talk to her on the phone after school, trying to explain I have five AP classes to study for, as well as two papers due, and a meeting agenda to organize, I hope she understands why I cannot devote an entire hour to listening about her weekly Mahjong game.