"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

Bringing up grandbaby

By on November 24, 2019 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Mike Cassidy

By Mike Cassidy

Editor

My wife has taken on the full-time job of babysitting our six-month-old granddaughter as  her parents go back to work.

(Oddly, when I first wrote the above sentence, it came out… “full-time joy of babysitting…” Would that be a Freudian slip, or just bad typing?)

It’s interesting how our friends and acquaintances respond to this.

Some say, “Oh, you’re so lucky!” 

But others give us the sad eye, and say something like: “How long do you have to do this… just until she is one?”

Maybe these are the grandparents who feel finally liberated from child rearing, and see a kid-free future of travel, self-rediscovery and leisure. 

 I can understand the concern, but for me — I’m finding plenty to discover interacting with a six-going-on-seven-month-old.

Because, while this is supposedly my wife’s responsibility, I find myself increasingly drawn into the care of baby Roux.

I like to think I was a good father who interacted with my children as they were babies, changed their diapers, sat up with them on difficult nights.

But being a grandfather is just different… and frankly, better.

My wife and I are watching this new baby getting her body ready to crawl, and ask each other: “Do you remember our kids doing this?” about a particular maneuver.

Or Roux will give us a sweet, sweet smile when we pick her up and we’ll wonder if our babies smiled so whole-heartedly.

It could be bad memories on our part, but I also think it’s something else.

We have the time not to be busy — to actually see and be in the moment.

Like today: My wife had laid Roux on her back on a sheepskin on the floor.

Whip! She immediately rolled over effortlessly, and from our easy chairs, we remarked, “She couldn’t do that so easily a week ago. Cool.”

Next, she wanted a toy on a blanket just out of reach. She can’t yet crawl, so she grabbed the blanket and pulled it towards her. She reached out with first her right hand, but when that wouldn’t grab the toy, she tried her left hand. Again failure. She pulled harder on the blanket and tried her right hand again. Success!

As a parent, I would have jumped up and moved the toy closer. “Have that toy now because we have things to do and places to go.”

As a grandparent, my time is more elastic, and besides, I want her to discover the need to work and the rewards it brings.

Some thinkers have said a reason humans live long past the age of child bearing is just to be grandparents — to tend the next generation as their parents hunt and gather food for the clan.

I can see the joy of parking a luxurious RV on a sunny beach somewhere — but I would surely miss the perfect smile of our little granddaughter.

Happiness is the all-in smile of a grandbaby. Enjoy The Good Life.

— Mike

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