I was told that being a grandparent was a wonderful thing — not at all like parenting.
Well, with the grandkids over here as much as they are, it is just like parenting, only I don’t get to give haircuts without a signed and notarized affidavit.
The good news is that I wasn’t such a great dad (hold on, I’m not finished with the good news) so I get a second chance at it. The bad news is that I get a second chance at it just as I am ready to turn one of the kids’ bedrooms into an office with a Jacuzzi.
My wife is a saint, only she is without the pay and benefits of the position. She is first to volunteer to watch the kids. And I love watching them myself — for a few hours.
Frankly, if it wasn’t for the grandkids being such good kids (even when they aren’t so good) having to raise a second family could really be a giant pain in the polyester. I don’t have anywhere near the energy I once had, so normal things like staying up at night, or crying babies when I am teaching, on a conference call or putting the computer desk back together take on new meanings.
I can’t just pop back up, get sleep later or repaint that wall. (OK, I can always find time to repaint a wall.)
So here’s my list of things to do to be a good grandpa dad and stay sane.
Re-babyify the house
Things that can be pulled over by a child learning to walk will have to be bolted to the wall.
Cords and more cords will have to be bundled and tied.
Teach the kid to say gram-pa before he says gram-ma.
That pill I dropped onto the floor and will get when I find the strength to bend over? Get it now.
Glass and lace, leather and suede should be put away. All the white stuff goes on the top shelf.
Get decorative boxes for the diapers and wipes (place these items in every room in the house).
Get a new high chair and crib to replace the ones you gave away or that simply didn’t survive.
Place the baby locks back on the cupboards and get rid of the mouse traps.
Get back into a baby frame of mind
Just as you did as a new parent, take care of yourself. Eat right and sleep often. You may be old. No, you are old, and that’s OK. You can get back into the parenting saddle and care for and nurture the grand kids.
Remember, all the good tips and tricks that you learned with your own kids still work.
A crying baby does not necessarily mean an immediate trip to the nursery. Babies fuss.
The diaper will not explode or asphyxiate the world if it is not changed within seconds of soiling.
Carpets can be cleaned and floors can be mopped. Even the head of Lladro can be glued back on.
You may be old, but you have resources. Everyone has baby stuff or knows who has it. Put the word out or post on Facebook that you are in need of baby supplies — everything you need will start pouring in.
Most of all, buck up and fresh courage take. Rearing children is harder when you are older, but you will recover. Just know that those nurturing instincts are still in you.
Above all, remember that just as you did with your children, you will get tired and grouchy. All you need to do is look at the child when he is asleep or when he is learning to walk and is toddling around at your feet while you are making lunch. It’s all good.