I‘ve come to western Virginia in the dead of summer to visit the littlest of little girls: June Rose Wilson. Age: five weeks: Weight: 7.6 pounds. Eyes: deep blue. Hair: almost visible.
One day, I hope she will call me Grandpa. For now, I’m just another benign blob on the periphery of her vision, one who hovers close and makes ridiculous sounds in an attempt to capture her attention. So far she seems immune to my charms, which I suppose I shouldn’t worry about. As I never tire of mentioning to my daughter, they’re little for such a short time. New parents tend to believe the ordeal of sleepless nights and diapers will never end, but then it does end and sometimes the parents wish they’d paid more attention.
I’m talking about me, of course, not these particular new parents. I married too young and had kids too young and was far too callow to appreciate the gift and responsibility that is parenthood. Particularly in the beginning. I was too self-absorbed. I was too harsh with the little things and too lax with the big ones, and by the time the last one moved out the man who couldn’t wait to quit wrangling toddlers found himself wishing he could do it all over. This time correctly.
And of course that’s what being a grandparent is about: The second chance. You get another shot, this time with the benefit of hindsight and the abiding knowledge that you have nothing to lose by being too accessible. And so I will be pretty accessible. I will tirelessly read to this little girl, everything from Curious George to Anna Karenina. I will take her any place she wants to go, except areas of town I have deemed unsuitable. I might even deign to serve as her personal horsey, as long as the knees hold up. I will not spoil her, but I can’t rule out a laissez faire approach to the enforcement of certain parental rules when the parents are not around.
This is my plan, at least. For now, I’ll lean close and talk in soothing tones and put my finger in her tiny hand in the hope that she will grasp it. I await her first smile. I’ll send out what I hope is a very mellow vibe. Pleased to meet you, June. Grandpa here is going to be someone you can count on.