Bear with me, this piece could run awhile. Grandparents' Day, which is Sunday, is hard to keep to 500 words. Five hundred words is a warmup. Five hundred words is a throat clearer because any grandparent worth his or her salt could go biblical in length and Al Michael in superlatives.
First of all, once you join the club, your friends will think you're nuts. Roasted, salted and with a dash of cayenne. Grandparents are like a roving band of crazies who have seen one too many eclipses, mutter to themselves and are capable of bursting into song at any moment.
Sound familiar? Sound about right? Sound about like the way you were before you had grandchildren and you thought the people who did had dipped into the crazy juice?
Crazy. Yes, crazy in love, which starts shortly after your son or daughter hands you the baby (in my case, Andrew, Nora and Lillian Kate) in the hospital or at home and says, "Here's your grandchild."
Mine? I don't want to drop this, break this or give this back.
Were you ever this small? Did I ever feel like this? Love is love, but this love is different because the river is wide, the channel deep and the dam has been decommissioned.
In a moment, the arc of the rainbow seems to complete itself. How did this happen? Son to father to grandfather. We arrive at the beginning again, more inclined to appreciate the colors because we know how surely their brilliance must ebb and flow.
Being a grandparent is like revisiting your childhood. The play-all-day part. The part with no chores, gallons of homemade peach ice cream and sleepovers.
If this were college, we'd be majoring in fun. Skipping statistics and feeling good about it. Blowing off finals for a road trip to nowhere and everywhere.
Parents do all the heavy lifting. Shoulder the not-always-joyous responsibility of turning kids into decent, moderately employable citizens without having them burn the house down.
Parents are thinking, there is no way I can have one more. How did you guys do it? This is killing me already.
Grandparents are not rooting for one more. They're rooting for twins. Triplets.
"More" because what starts out as good does not seem to get less good. At least, yet.
How many times after a visit to San Diego and Andrew have we said, "It can't get any better than this, he can't be any cuter," and then the next time it is and he is.
A couple days ago, Nora, our 14-month-old granddaughter — Sam and Lauren's first child— was eating dinner with us. Lauren is teaching her sign language and in particular the sign for "more" as in "I want more sweet potatoes," or in our case, "I want more Key lime pie."
The sign for more is roughly, the index finger on one hand touching the inside of the palm on the other hand. It's cute when a little person does it but even funnier when Nora, rather than using her index finger uses her middle finger. It looks like she either wants more sweet potatoes or she wants you to jump in a lake.
She did it over and over again. We laughed over and over again. It was funny every time.
What's also funny is that Nora is her father's daughter, although she's about 15 years early on the middle finger stuff. Good luck, son. We'll be right behind you. Enjoying every minute if she decides to give you more of what you gave your parents.
This is what being a grandparent is like: little stuff. Dumb stuff. Everyday it changes stuff.
You want this for your friends for whom it is possible. You want them to join the nut club. Roasted, salted and with a dash of cayenne.