And then… You get a call from one of the kids.
“Are you guys sitting down?” they ask.
“Well, you’re going to be grandparents!!”
And soon you realize being a grandparent has absolutely no correlation at all with being a parent. To begin with, your children were not particularly helpful with their own upbringing, but thank Heaven they’re available now. And, just let it be said here, the benefit of receiving nurturing tips from your children on the proper techniques for raising a child are greatly appreciated. For example…
Those earliest days…
From the baby’s first day home, grandparents are informed “The baby must be swaddled” if you have any hope of his or her being accepted to a first-tier university.
Now, most people’s exposure to swaddling a child comes from Christmas stories about Mary and Joseph keeping the Christ Child warm in a stable. Big difference. Let’s see… Exposure to the elements vs. admission to Western Michigan University.
Armed with this bit of wisdom, one can’t help but wonder if Joseph kneeled down next to Mary and said, “Just relax. Deep breaths. You can do it.” And then, when the Christ Child is born, turning to the Wise Men saying, “Hold off on your gifts for a sec. Right now we need to swaddle the baby! Quick! You! Put down that frankincense and grab that brown-and-gold swaddling!”
Now, with the potential swaddling/higher education crisis averted, you watch as the grandchildren grow a bit older…
When you’re all together, it’s not uncommon for someone to grab their nose and say, “e-w-w-w-w! I smell a nasty diaper. She needs a change! Grandma! Grandpa!” And you grab her up and change her. Not because you’re anything special, but because you wouldn’t want to sit around in a nasty diaper, so why should she? “BUT”, you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t this approach work in a store or restaurant?”
Let’s say you and your granddaughter stop for lunch and have just been seated in a nice booth. You smell something awkward, and, without hesitation, turn to the waiter or waitress and say, “You know what? Before I order, would you mind running her into the bathroom and changing her nasty diaper. I need to study the menu for a minute. Thanks!”
Well, first of all, every diner in his/her station would call the waiter/waitress over and say, “You touch that diaper and we are so outa’ here. Oh, and your tip? That’s funny.”
There’s an old saying: “With the years comes wisdom.” Turns out that’s not entirely true…
In their preschool years, you take one of the grandchildren to a store and are asked, “Grandpa, would you buy me this LEGO set?” To which you respond, “Sure. Toss it in the cart.”
And then, when you return to their home, are immediately confronted with, “Did you buy him this LEGO toy?”
“Actually, no. I thought I’d take advantage of our extra time in Meijer’s to teach him the virtues of theft.”
“You know, you can’t just buy him everything he asks for.”
“Oh, really? Care to give me an example.”
“Fine,” you explain, “He also asked for a Porsche 911 Turbo, and I said, ‘No. Absolutely not. Not until you’ve demonstrated you’re able to take care of your LEGOs.’ Well, he assured me he was good with that. Anything else?”
Who knew? It seems, elementary school carries its own set of challenges…
You walk into your daughter and son-in-laws house, and are quickly pulled aside and asked, “Did you actually tell Kyle you were working in the garden one day and saw a T-Rex walk through the neighbor’s yard?”
“What?! Why would you do that?” she exclaims, “Do you know he went to school, and for show-and-tell told the other kids what you said?”
“Did he really?”
“Well,” you explain, “to be perfectly honest, I’ve been alive quite a bit longer than you, so how do you know it isn’t true?”
“Fine. I may have been wrong to tell him that.”
“Do you really mean it?”
“Yes, I do.” you respond. “It may very well have been a large raptor. The two look quite a bit alike.”
And still they grow… BUT, what’s often overlooked is how grandchildren can induce lifestyle changes in you…
For years, you keep CD’s in the car and, while driving, belt out your favorite tunes. “We’ve Got Tonight,” by Bob Seger. “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen. “Promised Land,” by Chuck Berry. And so many others that define your own “early years.”
Until, that is, you get together with a few of your grandchildren to watch their favorite movie and listen to their choices in music. So, the very next day, when you’re back driving that same car, you’re now belting out “Let It Go” from “Frozen, ”Blank Space,” by Taylor Swift, and “Because you know, it’s all about dat bass,” by Meghan Trainor. AND… you feel really good about yourself, because you know all the words.
The teen years… You’ve got to be kidding.
“Hey, grandpa,” you hear, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Well, of course,” you assure him. “What can I help you with?”
“Okay,” he stammers, “There’s this girl I like, and, well, every time she gets close to me, I get this, kind of, you know, bump in…”
How about that.