I have never been so excited about kale!
Or pomegranates, avocados, raspberries or even spaghetti squash for that matter.
To clarify: I love to eat. And I’ve always been an enthusiastic fan of fruits and vegetables of all kinds. I even learned to tolerate my wife’s favorite, rutabaga through the course of our 33 years together.
Then, in January 2015, I agreed to do Weight Watchers to support my wife’s efforts to lose a few pounds as we both approached 50. Three years later, I am down sixty pounds. Fruits and vegetables played an integral part in that process which has returned to me some of the pep of youth and erased some of the aches of advancing age.
So, I am a huge proponent (though not as huge as I was three years ago!) of all manner of seeded and non-seeded foods.
Yet I fell in love with fruits and veggies only a few months ago when our oldest daughter started delivering weekly updates on the size of our first grandchild growing inside her.
First it was the size of a poppy seed. Then an apple seed, sweet pea, blueberry (my favorite), a cherry, and on and on.
As I write this, Baby Williams is the size of a kale plant: about 14 inches long and 1.68 pounds.
She (yes, my daughter and son-in-law learned the gender – these parents today have no patience!) is due April 8, 2018, so we still have half the produce aisle to look forward to.
This information is courtesy of an app called “The Bump.” When Emma started sharing her weekly update, I asked if she was reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” – an iconic book for new mothers-to-be.
“No Dad, it’s an app,” she laughed, with just the slightest hint of 24-year-old condescension. Emma, like her mom and me, is an avid reader. But she has been raised in the Internet age. A book? How quaint of me to think so!
Truth be told, I don’t much care if she maps her baby’s progress with a book, through an app or by reading tea leaves. The point is, we are going to be grandparents.
(More accurately, and to be fair, we already have four fur grandchildren. We love them all and don’t want to hurt their doggy feelings in case any of them are reading this, but Baby Williams will be our first non-fur grand baby, which is, you know, different.)
The idea of being grandparents is fascinating, thrilling and weird. Fascinating for its possibilities. Thrilling for the fun we expect to have with our grandchild. And weird because most of the grandparents I know are, well, old.
At least they are older than I think of myself and my wife. We are both in our early 50s. Kellie was 26 and I was 27 when we had Emma. Olivia came along two years later. All four of our parents were in their mid and late 40s when our kids were born, so I guess that’s about right. But it sure feels odd.
Yet, as the cliché goes, age is just a number. What matters is the experience and (hopefully) wisdom that age brings, all of which we can share with our granddaughter.
We cannot wait to teach her all the important things in life.
My wife will teach her how to cook, play “Button, Button”, paint watercolor flowers and birds and do cross stitch.
I am so excited to read “Goodnight, Moon” a million times to her, teach her the beautiful subtlety of baseball, watch her eat her first cherry tomatoes from our garden, and help her understand (as I did with Emma) that no one – not even Michael Jackson or Bruno Mars — can come even remotely close to the purple musical majesty of Prince.
All very important skills and insights that will help – in ways both big and small — any young person to navigate these strange times. And we, as prospective Nana and Papa, are anxious to do our part.
Yet even more important than what we can teach her, is what Baby Williams will teach our daughter and son-in-law.
They will learn that children are difficult. Noisy. Impertinent. Pushy. Demanding. Inconvenient. Snarky. Mean. Heartbreaking. Disappointing. Confounding. And, especially early on and later as teens, downright smelly!
They will also learn that children are bright. Inquisitive. Intuitive. Amazing. Talented. Thoughtful. Insightful. Observant. Inspiring. Breathtaking. Blessings beyond measure.
Parenthood is all about taking everything that Life gives – good, bad and ugly – and making the best of whatever comes. Celebrating the highs. Learning from the lows. Understanding that not everything has to be perfect, not everyone must change the course of human history. But teaching children that everyone must strive to be the best person he or she can be.
Our children may fail, just as we did. But the struggle through the failure is, in many ways and for most of us, its own best reward.
Children are Life itself.
Parenthood is about creating Life, yes. Frankly, that’s the easy part. The hard part is maintaining and shaping and directing Life in ways positive and productive and meaningful, so that this gift is not wasted.
Parenting is both human and divine. It is a tremendous responsibility and opportunity. In our children, God gives us the chance to make everything right. And the grace to forgive when “right” is so far away that it can’t hardly be seen.
Grand-parenting is all of that, plus Time.
Forget the adages about being able to spoil the grand kids rotten, shoving candy in their faces, pouring sweetened drinks down their throats and then turning them back to their parents just as the sugar high kicks in (although, that does have a certain appeal…)
The real magic of grand-parenting is in being able to help our children raise their children by conferring on them the wisdom that survival has taught us.
We do this with hope and faith that in some miniscule way we can help make the world a slightly better place, one child at a time. That’s what I look forward to the most about becoming a grandparent.
That, and listening to “Purple Rain” with my blueberry for the first time.