There was, of course, the issue of the ALF underwear.
The panties featuring the likeness of everyone's favorite furry Melmac native appeared in my daughter's drawer after my mom's most recent visit. At 3, my daughter is the last of her friends to be potty trained. It's been the perfect blend of her obstinance and her parents' laziness that has kept her in the younger toddler class with the other untrained.
The ALF underwear states that it's for 5-year-olds. I'm hoping it won't take that long for her to use them.
But it wasn't the impractical age gap that I found so bothersome about the ALF underwear. Nor was it that I felt a sense of pressure from my mom to go ahead and potty train my kid already. I was simply bothered by the mere discovery of them in her underwear drawer.
I shouldn't complain. As a grandma, my mom has brought spoiling to a new level. My eldest is 6, and the only new clothes I've ever bought for him have been a Halloween costume, some footie pajamas and his school uniform. All other forms of awesome attire have come solely from my mom.
Shopping has become her lifeline to my kids, a way to connect from 500 miles away. She shops sales and art fairs, thrift stores and missions. She saves some clothes to mail on a rainy day, some for a holiday and some for a just-because day.
Her habit only increased when I had my daughter. Flea markets and fashion districts are frequented with the same feverish ambition to find the cutest and the best. Clothes are often delivered by the bucket.
It's such a gift. And certainly, not all the clothes have been my style or something I would have picked out personally, but nothing had given me pause before the ALF panties.
ALF. ALF? ALF.
Where does one get ALF underwear for 5-year-old girls? Who decided there is a market for kindergarteners who love ALF? And how did they know that my mom would be the perfect person to market to? And for the love of cat-eating aliens, why ALF?
Because I didn't want to seem ungrateful, I didn't feel I could ask these questions directly to my mom. The investigation would have to be personal. But there would have to be an investigation. You can't just put ALF underwear in someone's drawer without saying anything and not expect there to be an inquiry.
Recently, I had read in my trade magazines that "ALF" was greenlighted for a comeback series, following the trend of "Roseanne" and "Murphy Brown" to reignite decades-past-prime time. Perhaps, I thought, this was part of rebranding, to initiate a new class of viewers — a younger demographic.
But a quick search of the licensed T-shirts at Target and Ross made me rethink the comeback clothes. After all, it was hard to ignore the panties' packaging. Either there was a real commitment to giving a full '80s look to the plastic bag and design or — perhaps — these were old.
A more thorough examination of the ALF panties' packaging confirmed it. "1987" was in a block of small print on the back.
A friend of mine is a scientist — something I have tremendous respect for but could never be. She told me that scientists rarely get answers, just more questions. For the first time in my life, I'm pretty sure I knew what it feels like to be a scientist.
Did this mean my mom had picked up the blast-from-the-past underwear at a thrift store or flea market? And if so, why had the seller held on to these packaged panties for over three decades? Or was my mom perhaps the one who had held on to the underwear for 31 years? Was this underwear she had bought for me but forgotten to give? After all, I was 5 in 1987. Had she just rediscovered it, or had she knowingly kept the set of three pastel-colored ALF panties in a special place in the downstairs closet hoping that one day I'd have a daughter she could pass them on to?
My mom called to ask how my daughter liked her new clothes. There was, of course, the issue of the ALF underpants.
"She's liked everything that currently fits."
I don't like to lie to my mom. Luckily, I won't have to for another two years.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.