Recently some good friends had an addition to their family, a grandchild. Of course, everyone thinks that their own grandchild is the most special, the cutest, and the most wonderful grandchild that has every been born, and they are no different. It must be an ego thing, an instinct for the survival of their own genes and continuity of the species. Yes, they can blame it on nature instead of pride and human vanity.
They checked out the baby to see whom it “looks like.” It has its “daddy’s ears,” it has “mother’s nose;” it looks “just like grandpa.” In truth, all babies look pretty much alike, soft, wiggly little creatures with heads too big for their tiny bodies, so big, in fact, that the little neck cannot even support the big wobbly head for a long while.
The grandparents look at the baby, goo and coo and talk baby talk, none of which the baby can comprehend, of course, though it does seem to listen and look toward the sound of human voices. Some feel that the baby hears even while still in the womb and has learned to recognize certain voices.
Every gurgle and grunt is a delight to the adoring grandparents, and they give their own interpretation to the sounds. The baby has no comprehension at all of what it is saying and is simply discovering its own vocal chords. Grandparents, however, can scarcely wait until the baby learns to imitate sounds and begins to learn the first words of language. They are in such a hurry that they even try to put words into the baby’s mouth, certain that the baby is already attempting to communicate. “He said ‘dada,’ I know he did! Isn’t that cute?”
The baby’s natural grasp is another source of delight. Silly grandparents. They are sure the baby is holding on to their finger because they are so special and he wants to show his affection. His little grin, probably from a gas bubble, is a smile to them and another source of pleasure. They do not care at all that the baby is bald, toothless, wrinkled and a bit too pink. The baby is their grandchild, their bloodline, their genes! This is the most wonderful baby there ever was or ever will be (at least until the next grandchild).
Now babies do really disgusting things — they soil themselves, they belch, they pass gas, they cry, they slobber, they spit up. It is okay because, after all, the baby is “just a baby” and does not know any better. And the very best part is if baby does something really gross, they can always pass him off to mom or dad until it is taken care of. Grandparents don’t have to feel responsible for training or discipline. Grandparents can spoil the baby to their heart’s content.
Grandparents really enjoy their newly found role. Too bad they didn’t find out about it sooner. It is much better than being a parent. “The baby is so smart! Probably those great genes he inherited.” He learns a new little trick every day, playing with toes, rolling over, and crawling. “Let grandma rock you. Aren’t they sweet when they are asleep?”
“Yep, wish we could have found out about this grandparenting stuff years ago,” they say. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could skip the parenting all together and just go straight to being grandparents?”
Guess it would be sort of like skipping the meal and just going straight to desert.