RITE OF PASSAGE: In-Betweeners
It’s a funny thing: you can’t become a grandparent until a grandchild arrives. I don’t have any grandkids, yet, and that causes me some concern. My wife and I got married while we were young, but our sons both waited awhile. As a result, many of our contemporaries have grandchildren who are 8, 9 or 10 years of age, and we have . . . nada, zilch, nothing.
I have tried to convince my sons the sooner you have children, the sooner you can become a grandparent. So far, they haven’t bought into that argument. I’m not pushing them. I just don’t want those “Baby’s First Christmas” presents stacked up ini my closet to go to waste.
At this time in our lives, Cathy and I are “In-betweeners,” a stage that reminds me of parenting purgatory. Some of our friends spend all of their time talking about their school-age children and their many activities. Our other friends do nothing but show us pictures of their grandkids. Since we don’t fit into either group, we just wait . . . in-between.
My grandparents-friends always have a new story or two-or 100-to tell about their grandchildren. I don’t mind the stories, but I have nothing with which to reciprocate. Howwever, I found a few that I have made my own. Now, I can swap tales with all the other grandfathers. Here’s one:
A sweet little boy surprised his grandmother one morning and brought her a cup of coffee. Proud of making it “all by myself,” he anxiously awaited her verdict. Never in her life had the grandmother had such a bad cup of coffee! As she forced down the last sip, she noticed three of those small, green, plastic army men resting in the bottom of the cup. She asked, “Honey, why would you put these toys in my coffee?”
Her grandson replied, “You know, grandma, it’s like on TV. The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.”
Until God gives me some grandchildren, I am trying to focus on the positive aspects of this in-between stage of life. I have come up with a few. For instance, kidnappers are not very interested in you. No one expects you to run into a burning building. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac. There is nothing left to learn the hard way. Things you buy now won’t wear out.
You can have dinner at 4 p.m. before the rush. You enjoy hearing arguments about pension plans. You can have a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room. Your eyes won’t get much worse. Your investment in health insurance is paying off. Your joints are a more accurate meterologist than the National Weather Service. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a managable size.
In the 1960s, we listened to acid rock. Now, we worry about acid reflux. When we were born, the Dead Sea was only sick. Finally, I have realized I no longer have to eat health food. I need all the preservatives I can get!
Without a doubt, the best thing I have done while awaiting my own grandchildren has been adopting a “practice grandchild” in our 2-year-old great-neice, Victoria. Every time she visits our office, she throws up her little arms and asks the receptionist, “Where’s Walk-ee?” Since I’m at the age where spending money on little children is a blessing instead of a necessity, Victoria already has more than her share of toys lovingly bought by . . . Walkee.
For the rest of you “In-betweeners” waiting for the blessed day, let me give you a suggestion. All around us are young families in desperate need of an adopted grandparent. My wife and I take great joy in giving a young couple a night out by providing free babysitting or taking their child to the zoo. Find your own practice grandchild, and before long, you’ll have stories to tell, too.
The other night when I came home, Victoria was sitting on the couch. When I sat beside her, she laid her little arm on my arms. At last, this “In-betweener” knew he was making a difference in a child’s life . . . once again.