As I walked in the front door of my parent’s house 20 years ago, my dear departed mom told me to be really quiet and follow her to the back room. I had no idea what was going on, after all I was just there to pick up my two daughters that had spent the afternoon with their grandparents. My mom continued to hush me and told me to sneak a peek out the back window at my dad and the girls. Wow! was I in for a surprise. There in the back yard was my dad, wearing what looked like a tutu around his waist, doing a hula dance with Erica and Jessica.
This is the same man who was too embarrassed to dance with my mom at my wedding. This is the same man who had little time to play silly games with this sons because we had “too much work to do.” The same man who thought that the world of music stopped at the death of Hank Williams was dancing with my daughters to some silly 80’s song on the radio. (I know that saying silly and 80’s music in the same sentence is redundant.)
What on earth happened? What did they do with my dad? Who is this imposter in the tutu? He most certainly is not my dad. From talking to many of my friends, I know now that this is not an isolated incident. Becoming a grandparent changes people. Usually drastically. My mom and dad both worked long hard hours as we grew up. My mom had little time for cooking big fancy meals, but what she made was filling and nutritious. We learned early on that “this is not a restaurant, you eat what I fix you or you don’t eat!” This rule echoed in my mind as I watched my parents take orders from my girls for the special soup they made for them whenever they wanted. Darn, where was that when I was a kid?
Then I realized that I am slowly going down that path now. I have done a lot of camping and fishing with the Boy Scouts over the last several years. I have done my share of fishing with the scouts and had pretty much exhausted my enjoyment with that activity. This summer, while my grandson Trey was in town, I went fishing with him, and stayed out with him for a lot longer than I expected. Even when he no longer wanted to bait the hook and just wanted to cast out an empty hook into the water, I had a blast just watching him do it. When a fellow fisherman left and gave us his box of worms, Trey dropped all interest in the fishing pole and just wanted to play with the worms. Did I lose interest or patience? Absolutely not. I just sat back and enjoyed watching this little boy have the time of his life while I sat in the hot sun sweating like a little pig.
What causes this kind of change? Well, I think that there is a lot of things. Grandparent love is not restricted by parental constraints. A Grandparent gets to have all the fun and not have to worry about all that discipline stuff. When my dad would not take the time to play “silly” games with us, he was training us in the art of a good work ethic. He did not have to teach that to my girls, that was my job. As a result, he got to open up that part of his heart that he kept closed. The older I get, the smarter and smarter my parents seem to get in my mind.
I am expecting that Chloe, my granddaughter that is due in November, will get a lot of that unvarnished Grandpa attention. I know that she can count on having a grandpa that is ready to spoil her rotten. I should probably be fitted for a tutu.