“Grampa, are you going to help my daddy paint at the new house today, or are you staying her to play with Gramma and me?” Three-year-old Adler stands imperiously at the front door of his “old house”, hair disheveled, shoes kicked off after coming home from day care, full of energy and ready for a snack. But first the question.
“Well,” my husband John pretends to think long and hard about the question as we’re standing on the front porch in the freezing cold. “I think I might stay here today if it’s OK with you.”
The look on Adler’s face says it all. It’s more than OK that we’re going to have Grampa with us today. “YAY!” he screams, running in circles as he backs into the living room filled with moving boxes, a barking bulldog, and roughly 700 toy cars of every make, color, and size so that we can be admitted to his world. “Grampa’s playing with us today!”
Yes, moms everywhere, it actually does get better when the man of your dreams and the father of your children gets the chance to be a kid again as a grandpa.
I first laid eyes on my husband as a freshman in high school. John had been at a different school, and was introduced to our algebra class six weeks into the semester. He was cute, shy, and looked miserable standing at the front of the room as we welcomed him. And I do have a very vivid memory of thinking, “If I had to kiss a boy, I might be able to kiss him.”
Yeah, we’re talking a lot of years and many, many stories ago. We started dating in senior year, when I asked him to a “switch dance”, where the girls do the asking. He was my third try, after the first two guys said they had to work that night. Another story for a long, snowy afternoon.
Now, a lifetime later, the pressured days of work and worry making a living for our family behind him, John gets the chance to be best buddies with our seven grandchildren and revert to whatever age he chooses for the adventure of the day. And I fall in love all over again as he grabs his pretend fireman hat and he and Adler rush off to the rescue.
This particular opportunity to be best buddies came about because our youngest, Becca, and her husband, Andy, are renovating a 92-year-old home, running way behind schedule, and we are on-call to help whenever we can so they can work in tandem on the renovation.
John was born to be a grandfather. He has always been the one to first sneak the grandkids a sip of Dr. Pepper and their first Cheeto, and he’s exceptionally good at charming his way out of any blame for a child who’s been allowed to stay up past his bedtime.
Seeing the man you have always loved being able to spoil and play with grandkids, tickling them into paroxysms of laughter, wearing too-small princess crowns and construction hard hats equally well, reading story books in funny voices, hand-printing great letters to our out-of-town 10-year-old grandson as part of Conor’s school project, carrying grandkids to bed on his bad back with bad knees (whinnying realistically all the way), and sharing soccer tips and stories with our grandgirls, always finding a positive even after a losing game—is so worth the wait.
Grandfatherhood has brought back the twinkle to his eyes, right along with that little streak of rebellion and the wonderful playful spirit that was sleeping for just a while.
And I’m so happy we made it!
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