One of our granddaughters turned 13 this week and the topic of discussion for my wife and I the past couple of weeks has been taking an inventory of how many of our grandchildren still want to hang out with us. Alarmingly, so it seems anyway, the list is shrinking.
I don’t know how it happened or when it happened, I only know that it has happened that the cries loike “I want to stay at Papa and Mamaw’s has not yet become, “Please don’t make me go to those people’s house!” But it is one step away from it. And that step is silence.
Oh, maybe four out of 11 want to come hang out, but now we, well, especially I, have to go into Super Papa mode to win over the ones I’ve lost, and retain the ones who still think I’m cool — or at least tolerable.
I discovered this weekend that plying them with their favorite food (pizza), and ice cream still does the trick for at least two that are teetering back and forth on the “Are Papa and Mamaw still cool?” see-saw. OK, I must admit, Papa generally loses them first because he’s no fun.
To this moment I don’t understand why 2-, 5-, 7-, 9-, 10- or 11- through 13-year-olds don’t think watching football or old Porter Wagoner reruns is not cool! However, I do have a 16-year-old who digs Porter Wagoner, That Nashville Music and the Gaither reruns.
I always thought my grandparents were cool, but in all fairness, one set of grandparents lived in Boston, Mass. right on the harbor where you could watch the ships come and go, and when we would visit (maybe once each year, or every other year) it was food much different than what we were used to down on the farm, and a lot of that was jelly-filled donuts!
The other grandparents lived on the side of a mountain in the hills of Kentucky, cooked on a wood-burning cook stove, had a roaring fireplace, no television but lots of animals and unexplored rattlesnake and copperhead infested thickets to roam through on each visit. How cool.
I guess to be honest about it, had visits become more frequent, the glamour would have worn off much more quickly than it did. Further, I guess had we encountered a pirate ship invasion from the Boston Harbor, or had we come running from a briar patch in Chavies, Ky. with copperheads and rattlesnakes hanging on our arms by their fangs, our enthusiasm would have lessened sooner.
Since I have just now turned over a new leaf of honesty, my wife, their Mamaw, is still cool to them. I think probably dealing with a not always cooperative Papa makes even an angelic Mamaw lose some of her attraction to the grandkids. Naw, who am I kidding. She is still the cool one. I’m the stuffy, smelly old man watching those old music shows. I have heard them ask their Mamaw “Why does he watch those awful shows?”
I suppose that in retrospect, I should consider changing my ways and becoming more fun. Maybe I should consider going to the roller rink, or to the one of hundreds of fun places that Mamaw thinks to take them to. Maybe I should look upon this reflection as an Ebenezer Scrooge experience. Well, that ain’t gonna happen. I’ll let Mamaw be the fun one, and I’ll catch the hugs and kisses from them when they return. That may not work forever, but for now, it’s pretty nice.
They gather round when Papa opens the guitar case or chases them through the house with monster claws out and growling like a grizzly bear.
I may not be the coolest of the grandparents, but I think they dig the old man just fine. See, a good reflection session is good for all of us once in a while. I’m much cooler than I thought. Now let’s work on Mamaw. On second thoughts, I’d best leave well enough alone; if you know what I mean.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at [email protected] and follow his work at http://www.HerbDayVoices.com and http://www.HerbDayRadio.com.