As a child I loved it when Grandmother got in the swimming pool with us. It was special because she left the adults who were gathered poolside to visit and watch the kids to come be with us in the water. She watched us dive and do flips and swim, giving us the gift of her undivided attention. But she never got her hair wet, and would rarely let us splash her or do cannonballs close. I always wondered about that. Swimming underwater, that feel of being completely submerged oblivious to the sounds above, was bliss for me. I couldn’t imagine why grandmother didn’t want that too.
When I became an adult I realized it was mostly about The Hair. There are a few fortunate women whose hair naturally looks fantastic no matter what, but for the rest of us it is often about The Hair. If I was going to swim and get my hair wet, I needed time to re-style it afterward.
Then I married and had children. Blissful submersion under water gave way to responsible parenthood – being oblivious was no longer an option. When my kids were old enough to swim I got in the pool with them but I didn’t get my hair wet. I understood why Grandmother hadn’t either.
Now I am the Grandmother. My grands call me Grandma, or Grandma Kim or Kimmy, and I love this stage of life. With the utmost respect to my dear Grandmother, long passed, I decided that I would be a Grandma who gets her hair wet. There are exceptions, but most of the time I suit up, get in the pool, play Marco Polo, have races to the other side and do some real swimming. I push floats, let myself be soaked by a cannonball wave, and get sprayed by water pistols. At the lake I jump off the back of the boat. It’s freeing, exhilarating, and going under is as blissful as ever (as long as it’s not at the hands of my brother).
I’m not the only one. There are other Grandmas that get their hair wet, some in my own family. That kind of Grandma is often the kind who lets her grands eat ice cream cones in the car (even ones dipped in chocolate), is willing to make cookies any time, plays school or library or store, sings to Vacation Bible School songs while trying the hand motions, pretends to be scared to delight a toddler, speaks both 4 yr old and tweener-talk, is comfortable either texting or using chalk on the sidewalk, doesn’t sweat the small stuff, has car snacks, can be surprisingly reasonable, knows how and when to sooth those hurt young feelings, and sees the child still inside the unpredictable teen. If she’s a Christ follower she will always be ready with a Bible story and lets her Light shine. She knows how to make the most mundane task fun, the value of a well-timed Popsicle, lets grands lick the beaters, and most of the time will read the same book at least seven times in a row. She supports the parents, limits unsolicited advice and is able to keep opinions to herself (most of the time). She still cries when the grandkids leave, though not always with outside tears. She loves unconditionally.
So Grandmas, get your hair wet. At least occasionally. Let yourself get soaked while your grandchildren soak in your love. Because as it turns out, it’s not all about The Hair.