I was so wrong – I admit it!
For years I wondered what it was it about being a Grandparent that inspired older people to make adjustments in their lives, and sometimes even do silly things and behave in silly ways. I knew one couple a few years ago who sold their home and moved across the country because their daughter had a baby. That one really made me scratch my head . . . moving to a location where they didn’t know anyone and start over after being in the same community for many years? I thought that was goofy.
In December, Chris married Sarah. Sarah had a 3-year-old daughter, whose name is Ali. Chris lives in Waco where he is doing graduate work at Baylor Truett Seminary. Sarah lived in West, a small community North of Waco. Chris met Sarah and through their courtship began to tell us, “She’s the one.” He brought Sarah and Ali home to meet us. During their visit, something really weird happened to me . . . I got excited and began to act and think like a grandparent. Suddenly, I understood what had long been a mystery for me. I found myself lying in the floor coloring dinosaurs in the jungle with a 3-year-old, acting silly, and having fun.
Soon into their visit, the discussion became about what Ali should call Sandy and me. I cringed at the thought of being called “Grandpa . . .” Ugh. Sandy suggested that she be called “Nana.” I kind of liked that title for her and thought it fit well. My suggestion that Ali might just call me Johnny was instantly rejected. After some debate, Chris suggested that she call me Pappy (just as he had been doing off and on since seeing Mel Gibson call James Garner “My Dear ole Pappy” in the movie, Maverick). He enjoyed using that title during his teenage years. Everyone bought in and instantly, I became “Pappy.” Hey, I actually like it (it is sure better for Ali affectionately calling me Pappy than it was a danged, smart-aleck teenage calling me that to subtly imply that I was becoming an old man).
Soon after their visit, I went out and bought a great car seat and put it in my suburban . . . nothing too good for Ali! I bought the one with pink flowers (pink is Ali’s favorite color). If someone had told me that one day I would have a car seat in my cool car, I would have laughed. Now, I am proud to have it and just wish Ali could ride in it more frequently. I even bought Ali her very own Personal Flotation Devise—PDF (what we always called life-jackets). I bet I have forty PDF’s, but Ali’s is the best of the bunch and no one can wear it except Ali! If the boat sinks, the rest of us might drown – but Ali will be safe!
I let Ali play with my iPhone and iPad anytime she wants. I even had some Dora stuff downloaded on the iPad for her. Recently, Sandy and I were having dinner out and there was a Grandmother and Grandfather with their young granddaughter at a nearby table. The Grandpa was coloring the sheet the restaurant gave the granddaughter while the granddaughter played with Grandpa’s iPhone. It is amazing that I understood completely! You can bet Nana had something to say about that too . . .
I have been taken to the woodshed and accused of spoiling Ali. Really???? I am spoiling her because I like to make her happy and give her things she likes? I enjoy seeing her smile and get excited. How much is too much ice cream for a 4-year-old? What’s wrong with giving her a $20 bill – she may need to go shopping? What’s wrong with letting her decide what to watch on TV?
Sarah posted a photo on Face Book yesterday of Ali. She had a Lemonade Stand in front of her other Grandmother’s office in West, and a sign that said, “Welcome to Ali’s Awesome Lemonade.” She looked like a little princess sitting at a table under a colorful umbrella. Within five minutes after seeing that picture of the little entrepreneur, I developed a craving for a glass of lemonade.
We went to the movie last night with our dear friends, Roger and Betty Horan. Roger and Betty had just had two of their sons and four of their granddaughters visiting for a week and they had all gone home that morning. I told them about Ali’s lemonade stand, and Betty said, “Roger should have put you in the plane and flown you up there!” Now, that is what I am talking about –people who understand this Grandparent thing!!
Understand this . . . I loved my kids and delighted in them. I always enjoyed them and doing things with them. When they were little, I regularly took them fishing and took along chocolate milk and cookies to help them enjoy the outing. We did the amusement parks from Texas to Florida; I even took them to Rio and Mazatlan and other such places. We often took a picnic basket to the beach, or simply to the city park. I had a great time with them at every stage of their lives. I loved having them sit between us in Church each week and holding hands during service and going to lunch afterwards. I loved the entire process of them growing up – through the tears and laughter that comes with being a dad involved in his kids’ lives. But, this being a Grandparent is something new and different . . . I read recently where some really smart person said, “There is a reason why they are called GRAND kids . . .” I think I get it.
I suspect that my Pappy-fever is about to intensify considerably – Chris and Sarah are soon to have a baby girl – Abigayle Grace – to be called Abi.
Ali and Abi – I am smitten and now I think I get it.
My sincere apologizes to all of you grandparents who I chuckled about over the past forty years. I was wrong – you were right, but how could I have known until Ali came along?
I wish I had 25 of them . . .