Grandparents

Thank you all for the fantastic and insightful comments on the series I posted last week.  I was just blown away by the encouragement, feedback, and book suggestions (which I will read to help me better understand my little man).

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            Once upon a time, retirement made sense.  People established themselves in their twenties, scrabbled to raise a family, poured their youth into amassing retirement savings, tucked away pennies to help their children through college, and then, somewhere in their sixties, they sat down for a few years to catch a breath.  The shame of it was that they were too exhausted by the years of toil to actually enjoy themselves, and they mostly played canasta with the other old fogies at the community center while patiently waiting for the social security checks to come in.

            Now, with the baby boomers, we are seeing a slightly different model of retirement.  Sure, some are still retiring in their sixties, but there is one slight difference.  Whereas sixty-five used to be old, now it is young.  I am not sure what form of the new math brought about this change in calculations, but the sixties are the new forties.  It used to be that the grandmothers met one another in the aisles of the grocery stores, comparing coupons and complaining about their sciatica.  Now, you are more likely to run into a grandmother at the gym, where that lady outpacing you on the elliptical machine is a grandmother of five getting in her daily two hour workout.

            With all of this energy and youth, not to mention a good thirty years until they are likely to slow down, many of the boomers are picking up second careers or buying R.V.s so they can visit all fifty states.  Others are starting businesses, picking up hobbies, and generally painting the town red.  But, there is only so much time one can pour into blogging, clubbing, and organic farming.  Sooner or later, these folks are going to find themselves with time on their hands.

            Fortunately, right about that time, their children have babies.

            This is why the grandparent industry is taking off.  Magazines written for grandparents, travel agencies exclusively for boomers and their grandchildren, and sturdy little cribs designed for quick assembly in Grandpa’s study.  J’s parents, however, were having none of this last.  No, they went out and bought a full-sized crib, along with a complete bedding set.

            The crib probably should have been our first hint, and if we missed that, we might have picked up on the new video camera and the three bags of children’s books that Ruth happened to pick up at her school’s used-book fair.  “The librarian recommended these,” she beamed.  But, because we are a little clueless, it was not until we actually drove home from the hospital with little Zachary squalling in the backseat to find Ruth and Edward waiting in our driveway with their new video camera running that we finally realized what was going on: Zach might only have two grandparents, but he probably was not going to suffer from lack of attention.

            Now, both of J’s parents have busy careers and active social lives, so it is not as though Zach, as the first grandchild, was filling some empty hole in their lives.  No, they just built an entire addition on their hearts for him, something they have done for each subsequent grandchild.

            I do not mean to intimate that they are perfect people.  They have an annoying tendency to show up with giant gingerbread men forty-five minutes before supper, and after a day out with them, my kids come home suspiciously hyper and with telltale dark-brown smears around their mouths.  They seem to equate doting with tooth decay.   And, like any in-laws, we can get on one another’s nerves.  No, they are not perfect people.  They are, however, damned-near perfect grandparents.

            They take the kids to the pool when it is hot and the Science Museum when it is windy.  They scour books on wherever we are living so they can plan adventures involving trains or dinosaurs or string instruments.  Together, we earnestly discuss Zachary’s aversion to Band Aids and Benjamin’s level-four hurricane status.  Yes, my in-laws are making all the other grandparents look bad, and they know it.  And, despite all the presents and outings, Zach told me recently, “I like when Grandma and Grandpa come to visit because they give me kisses.”  Of course, he rather likes the chocolate-chip cookies, too.

31 responses to “Grandparents

  1. Hear hear, for active, involved grandparents.

    My boys adore my husband’s parents, absolutely adore. My mom’s a little farther away, so it’s just wonderful that they get to see them as often as they do.

  2. If sixties are the new forties, then the forties must be the new twenties. Right? Right?!

  3. Ok, let me preface this by saying 1) I do not have any children. 2) I am no where close to having children anywhere in the next, oh, decade. With that being said, the hardest part of my choosen profession is knowing that I will probably never live close to my family again (aka – potential grandparents). Growing up my grandparents, even the out-of-town ones, were fanatically active in my life, and I cant imagine not giving that to my kids. Grandparents give something parents can’t, and I honestly think that grandkids give something kids can’t. 🙂

  4. You are lucky. But so are the in-laws. With grandparents, there seems to be a lack of the relationship complications that plague parents. My mom likes to say that she just doesn’t understand people who dote on their grandchildren. And it shows, as she has very little real interest in in her own. My kids are missing out, but not as much as she is.

  5. So sweet! 🙂

    And for what it’s worth . . .Grandma was indeed outdoing me this morning on the elliptical trainer . . .

    Damn Granny! Making me look bad!! 🙂

  6. Ahhh, maybe they give him chocolate kisses…

    I have great in-laws, too. My MIL is a general contractor currently building her own house, so weekly visits with her involve hammers, nails, riding on Gram’s mini-track loader and all sorts of boy things. She is a great Gram for boys.

  7. Your lucky kids.
    My in-laws live 20 minutes away and see their grandkids on holidays. They are somewhat lacking.

  8. Gotta love grandparents!

    We are very lucky – for over 10 years I lived over 5 hour drive from my parents and just as my second child turned 2 my parents bought land outside our city and built their dream retirement home – we all helped to decide on the location as we did not want to live too close, but wewanted them close enough to help out and to visit more often. They are now 55 minutes away and we see them at least every other week and the boys love going there for weekend vacations! I am so happy that mykids have a wonderful relationship with my parents and that they are so close.

    Thanks for reminding me to count my blessings!

  9. It’s an enviable situation. With so many women waiting until later in life to have children, there are many families in which the grandparents are too old (late 70s, 80s) to be that involved. It could happen to my children at both ends – their grandparents are fogeys and their parents will be fogey grands to their kids. Just another reason to get back to eating right and exercising.

  10. Oh, how I wish we had lived close enough to my family – and my Mate’s – to have had visits with grandparents be something that happened so much we all just took it for granted…Alas, it was not to be. Enjoy!

  11. I’ve always thought (no matter what amount of resentment I feel) that grandparents were so important for children. Now, I never knew mine, and both of my children have all of theirs, so maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I think that there may be something quite special in that bond.

  12. grandparents are good stuff. we are pretty sad that they live far away from us, but love on them when we have the chance!

  13. Ahhhh. That’s so nice to hear. I wish we lived closer to grandparents.

  14. My kids are soo spoiled in the grandparent department.

  15. You and your children are so so fortunate. Our parents on both sides are the same way – it makes me so inexplicably proud that my son is showered with so much love.

  16. My Little Mister is my parents’ first grandchild. It sure is wild! It’s hard, being across the ocean from them, but when we move back he’ll still be getting tons of attention. 🙂

    Grandparents are wonderful! I grew up with some really good ones, and I hope I can be like them (and like my parents) someday..

  17. It sounds like you hit the grandparent jackpot. It’s great you have them, and they have you. Your kids will reap some great benefits.

  18. So jealous. Seriously. Although we have Mike and Joan. I take such comfort in that.

  19. Ah, that is wonderful. Your boys do have a wealth of loving family.

    And, mmmm. Chocolate chip cookies…

  20. What a sweet tribute to them, and your relationship with them. We have three sets of grandparents and two are truly wonderful. One is lacking. All live 12 hours away but one sees the kids every 3-4 weeks without fail.

    And, oh, mine get the chocolate-love too. =)

  21. Sweet.

  22. grandparents rule, I am so sad not to have any left

  23. They sound lovely. My parents are also near-perfect grandparents. It’s a beautiful thing.

  24. i had to laugh at this, because the first thing my mom did when she found out i was pregnant with ben was to buy a full-sized crib.

  25. One of the hardest things to bear about our subfertility is that I do not know if I will make my parents grandparents, and they would be awesome.

  26. Am envious. That’s so cool.

    My family is far away and it makes me sad.

  27. My kids have—I kid not—ROOMS for them at grandparents houses. I assume this means grandparents want lots of quality time with them so I give it. Hence our resumption of a life as a couple.

  28. My in-laws are terrific grandparents. My mother? Not so much.

  29. J’s parents sound like awesome people! I live in a neighborhood with many people over the age of 60 and I too have noticed they behave differently than my grandparents did.

  30. These are the sort of grandparents that my parents are to my kids. (Frankly I always think they make my husbands parents look pathetic in the grandparenting department.) Grandparents like these are a true gift.

  31. really good one and thanks for it.

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