I taught the youngest guy how to be a dog. I sat mostly in silence with the middle guy for a good while before convincing him what a dweeb I was. I warned the oldest guy about where to not put his head. And I told the oldest of them all that my legs had never felt smoother.
This is my life as a granddad. At least it was during a recent six-day Easter trip to Texas with the bunch. “The Bunch” is what I call my son and his wife and her daughter and sister and mother and my son’s children and a couple of nephews. “The Bunch!” I really want nothing but the best for The Bunch. My hope is that my behavior around each of them didn’t dash their hopes of me!
I think I treated the nephews and the sister and the mother with fun but with respect as well. My son and his wife, though? Well, that’s up to interpretation. Whatever I said to those two, I hope they accept my apologies or appreciate my understanding of them both. Those are important notions to an old dad of a long-time and loving son and a relatively new but wonderful daughter. But the notions are pretty much unimportant ones. At least they are when it comes to the meat of “The Bunch!”
The most beautiful of The Bunch is the oldest child. A young woman who is close to being as wonderful as her mom. They both posses the ultimate beauty. Inside and out. But I am such a dork. I mean, I appreciate their beauty, but what drives me is being able to make them both laugh! And I made the mom laugh a few times – at her own expense. I apologize for those times. But the daughter, my granddaughter, set me up for the following punch line.
As we were preparing to leave the hotel to return to North Carolina, the granddaughter, a 14-year-old, asked me to give the shaving cream and razor she left in my room to my son to pack and bring back home. I assured her that I would and then said, “Oh, crap! I saw that in the shower and I used it! Man, my legs have never been smoother!” I am not sure if she and her mom were embarrassed by my comments. But, damn it, they both laughed!
The oldest grandson is a wonderful kid. He’s only around ten years old. But just like the oldest nephew, a seventeen-year-old, he so readily offers and delivers the help anyone around him needs. I asked the nephew for help a couple of times, and he obliged. In his natural ways. But just as natural were the ways my grandson helped. Without having been asked. Look, there were eleven of us traveling in a van from North Carolina to Texas. Five adults, two young teens, and four young-ins. Most of my time was spent on the far back bench seat. Underneath that seat was my luggage. At some point during the trip, I needed something from my luggage. So I struggled, trying to pull my bag from underneath my seat. And suddenly, without my request for help, the oldest grandson appeared and crawled on the floor of the van to pull out what I needed. He assured me he would take care of it. So, I raised and spread my legs to give him access to the luggage. Well, the kid would have succeeded, I think. But the closer he got to me, the more I understood his sense of humor. So I said to him, as his head approached my crotch, “Dude! Watch where you put your head!” Once the kid stopped laughing, he said to the nephew, “Man – did you hear what Paw Paw said?” And – I never retrieved my luggage.
I think I identify mostly with my “middle grandson.” While he is not even close to being as insecure as I was a kid, he is much closer than the others. Like I always was as a kid, this one seems to feel guilty about minor things, is way too apologetic about stuff, and is not afraid to shed a tear or two. Well, I am not at all sure how he feels about me right now. During an Easter egg hunt at a park in Dallas on Easter day, I noticed that he was sitting alone on some cement steps with his head down. I walked away from all the others and sat down next to him. We said very little at first. He just needed someone next to him for a while. Then, we began to talk. He told me what was on his mind. Then I told him what a dweeb his granddad was as a child. About how my older brother used to pick on me. About how my brother and sister used to call me dumb and stupid. About how I reacted when I lost at Monopoly! I said to him, “Man – I never won at Monopoly! And my brother and sister would just gloat and laugh and I always ended up throwing the Monopoly board off the table in anger! I was such a jerk back then.” That kid wiped away a couple of tears and said, “Paw Paw, you are not a jerk.” And then he smiled! Finally he smiled.
Then – there’s “Sweet-P!” That’s what I call the youngest. The spelling of his name begins with a “p.” And he is a very sweet kid. But I will be honest with you. I have never known a child like this one. When I see and hear things from Sweet-P, I see the next Robin Williams or John Belushi or Chevy Chase or Johnny Carson on the horizon. This kid is a bit gullible as well. Or. Maybe the kid just actually understands the value of becoming a dog right now in his life. The kid is five years old. A couple of years ago, he asked to have a bite of the food I was eating. I told him that he would have to beg for it. Like a dog. I said, “Speak!” He very quickly caught on and responded with a dog bark! At that point, I labeled Sweet-P as “Fido!” A couple of mornings ago, at the free breakfast at the Dallas hotel where we were staying, Fido began eating his Fruit Loops without a human inspired spoon. And each time I told him to speak, the kid would bark. Later in the trip, we were eating lunch outside somewhere, and he began to bark and pant like a dog. And God forgive me for this, but I asked Fido to show me how he scratches his ear. Naturally, the kid used his right hand to show me. That’s when I said, “No! Dogs use their feet to scratch their ears!” The kid took off one of his flip-flops and began to scratch his right ear with his right foot! And he did it many times during the following few days! After our last meal together, during some times when Sweet-P seemed to get out of control a bit, all I had to say was, “Fido! Sit!” Man! The kid would sit! And bark! And, again, would scratch his ear with his foot!
Look, here is my message to my son and his wife and others: For the love of God, at some point do your best to protect your children from such a demented granddad!
In the meantime, thank you and your young-ins for giving an old man such joy!