I think that this is the gig I was born for . . . “Grandpa”. Two years ago the daughter and son-in-law made the wife and I grandparents with the birth of our first granddaughter . . . about three months ago they blessed us with our second granddaughter. The two of us are now grandparents and we are loving every minute of it. Being a grandparent is an excellent gig and one I was born for.
The only problem, at least according to the statistics reported by the AARP Bulletin, that grand source of information for those entering and in the geriatric stage of life, is that the wife and I are entering the game late in the grandparenting stage . . . approximately seven years late! According to the monthly newspaper from the AARP the average age for a grandparent is 47 years old. The wife and I were both 54 years old when the first grandchild arrived. Somehow, unbeknownst to us, we lost seven years in the grandparent department . . . seven years! What was were our children thinking by making us wait seven years before we had a grandchild!
We have been making up ground ever since.
Luckily for us our granddaughters live close by. We get to see the two of them on a weekly basis as they live within thirty minutes of us. According to the statistics reported by the AARP Bulletin 43% of the grandparents in the United States travel more than 200 miles on an average to see their grandchildren. Luckily for us the grandkids are just down the road . . . plus they are easily attainable on the way home from work in the big city. The wife and I get to see the girls on a weekly basis . . . and, I must admit, it has been great for us.
Growing up, due to distance and things like money, I rarely (and, I mean rarely) saw my grandparents. On my mother’s side it was once or twice every couple of years . . . while on my father’s side it was maybe once or twice over a lifetime . . . at least until we moved into the area where my mother’s parents lived when I was in my junior year of high school. Then I saw my grandparents practically every day. Basically, other than those last two years of high school, I didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandparents. I swore that that would not be the case when grandchildren appeared in my life. I would make whatever effort it took to be a part of their lives and them a part of my life. So far, so good.
As I stated earlier, the granddaughters are a pretty regular part of our lives. Whether we make the effort to go see them, or their parents make the effort to come see us, they are a part of our lives. I would have to say that my time in their presence is a highlight of my week . . . the one thing really look forward to each week. It is the sort of anticipation in which I catch myself sitting on the front porch the homestead waiting . . waiting to see that car pull up and hearing my two-year old granddaughter cry out, “Grandpa!”
Being a grandparent is great . . . but, it is also expensive.
According to the AARP Bulletin grandparents spend $57 billion on their grandchildren each year. Fifty-seven billion! I am not quite sure what the share is that the wife and I contribute each year to that amount . . . got to be at least a hundred thousand . . . but, thank God, we are both working. This puts us in good company as 62% of all grandparents are still working. Darn right we are still working, how else are we going to put in our fair share of $57 billion!
Now, I am not really sure how much we actually spend on the granddaughters . . . mainly because the wife is the one who spends all the money on them and informs me later. In the spending on grandchildren department I plea ignorance . . . but, I am beginning to find out that we have rarely, if ever, not “gifted” the grandchildren when they are in our presence. There is always an outfit here, a book there, a toy over there . . . or some other expense that comes with grandparenting. After the shock, it is usually money well-spent.
On my part though, the granddaughters and I get by fairly cheaply. Now it might be because I am one of the world’s tightest tight wads or because I have discovered that at the age my granddaughters are at we don’t need a whole bunch of stuff except a vivid imagination and lots of time. I have plenty of both. Much of what the two-year old and I do is free. We enjoy walking around the yard, picking up sticks, throwing rocks, exploring the flower gardens, running in the yard, telling the dogs “no!”, and just being in the presence of one another. Shoot! All the two of really need is one another! We have a lot of fun.
Of course, I think the idea of me being a grandparent scares my daughter and son-in-law. Scares them to death. Grandparents get to get away with all that stuff that parents cannot get away with. Grandparents got the privilege of teaching their grandchildren all those things that their parents don’t want them to learn. Grandparents get to do all those things that their parents would never let them do at home. Grandparents get to teach them all those embarrassing things that their parents would rather them not to know. Grandparents get to be their grandchildren’s best friend who knows things that they are dying to know . . . that their parents would rather them not to know . . . so that they can go out into the world and embarrass their parents when they least likely expect it. That is the “gift” of being a grandparent . . . and, the curse of any parent. Unfortunately, despite being seven years behind the average, I have more than made up ground. I have accomplished in being able to teach my two-year old granddaughter that which has the possibility of embarrassing her parents much to the chagrin of her parents. Payback is hell!
I enjoy being a grandparent . . . I really do. I enjoy the laughter that my granddaugthers bring into my life. Grandchildren seem to laugh at the simplest things. Laughter is a welcome companion at this stage of my life. I enjoy the joy of discovery . . . each new thing is a wonder to my granddaughters. I am seeing the world through “new eyes” and each new discovery is an adventure. Wonder is a gift of being a grandparent. I enjoy silly songs and noises . . . I am learning that Grandpa can make all sorts of weird and disgusting sounds . . . can create all sort of new words and sayings . . . that bring great satisfaction and joy to a two-year old. Unfortunately, it brings great fear to her parents! I love the enthusiasm that my two-year old granddaughter brings to life. It stands as a reminder what a gift life really is.
I enjoy all the parts of being a grandfather . . . except for those rare occasions when I have to change a diaper . . . especially a poopy diaper. There is no worse of a smell than a baby’s poopy diaper. I have been encouraging the granddaughters to get a move on in using the potty.
Yes, I think I was born for this grandparent gig. It is the one place where I have finally been able to meld together all that worthless information, trivia, and infantile behavior I have been saving for a rainy day. It is the one place where I have been able to act silly and actually get away with it in public . . . because I am a grandpa! It is the one place where I have the opportunity to enjoy life at its basics level with laughter, joy, and great discovery. It is the one place that reminds me that in getting older there is great adventure when looking at the world through the eyes of a small child who looks up to you with admiration and love. It is a wonderful gig.
I thank my daughter and son-in-law for making it possible for the wife and I to enter into this journey of grandparenting . . . though it was beyond the average. We are looking forward to that day when the other children begin adding to our joy with children of their own. I thank my granddaughters for bringing a renewal love for life . . . a sense of adventure . . . and, just plain old happiness into my life. Being a grandpa has been a joy! The perfect gig! I might be late to the game . . . but, I am more than catching up! Ask my granddaughters.