I knew if I hung around long enough, it would come to this.So I, the fellow who still can recall my college days as if they were, well, not quite a century ago, am going to be a grandfather in the spring. When I got the news, after the adrenaline rush subsided, I sat and thought for a moment.
And this is what popped into my head: Who on earth is picking these distinctions and what have they been drinking?
That is not meant to be an indictment of anything from my self-esteem to my character. It’s just that, short of my advancing years, I’m so, um, ungrandfatherly.
I refuse to wear my reading glasses down my nose. I still laugh like a fifth-grader at flatulence jokes. I am not a huge hugger. I don’t playfully rub kids on the head.
No biggie, you say?
Wait. There’s more. I don’t fish, have a wood shop or know Hello Kitty from Dora the Explorer. I don’t know what happened to Bill Nye the Science Guy.
I don’t use a handkerchief properly (who does when you have to stick the thing back in your pocket?) or dispense Andy Griffith-style wisdom in a manner so unhurried that it feels like the earth just stopped spinning.
I don’t know which cartoons are too violent — didn’t moralistic Underdog beat the snot out of people? — or understand whether watching “Barney” ever really was harmful to kids.
I don’t know how to make a good grilled cheese sandwich. My wife still holds it against me for once using Crisco for the task when we had no butter, but I championed myself as a creative sort.
I don’t know how to fix toys that break. Heck, our son used to show me how to piece together his Christmas gadgets.
I think it’s perfectly OK to let kids eat a few spoonfuls of dirt every so often. I mean, I did, and look how superbly things turned out. At least it taught me to appreciate occasional TV dinners for speedy, work lunches.
I figure it’s OK to thoroughly and soundly defeat a kid at a board game such as Sorry! as I once did with my 7-year-old nephew instead of letting him win as all the sissy grandpas on the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies do. Losing builds character, you know.
I don’t know that I’m very good at telling stories with a moral to teach kids a lesson. I always have preferred asking enough questions to let them find their stumbling way wisely through life’s labyrinth.
And there’s one thing more I don’t know: How I will deal with you-know-what if I help change a diaper (hey, my stepson was already 8 years old when I came along).
In spite of all this, I know one thing for sure: When my granddaughter or grandson enters this world, I will fight a lump in my throat for the coming privilege of being a part of his or her life.
And I will give love generously and myself wholeheartedly.
For all that I am not in the great gallery of grandfathers, I hope that is enough.