Yesterday I became a grandfather. My daughter, Stacey, and son-in-law, Skip, suddenly have new job descriptions, with responsibilities that far outweigh anything they've done before, but I have confidence they'll be up to the task.
The real exciting aspect of this grandfather business, however, will be the stuff he needs to learn that only a grandpa can teach him. I can hardly wait to get started.
The first and most important will be to stop crying as soon as I pick him up. That may not be so easy at first, but when he gets old enough to appreciate the wonder of chocolate and peppermint and the depths of a grandfather's pockets, I think he'll learn quickly. He also needs to learn that bodily functions are best saved for his parents.
I've already bought him a baseball glove but imagine it will be a few weeks before we start playing catch. I'm sure his parents will gladly join us at a ballgame since they both love baseball too. We can introduce him to ballpark hot dogs, cotton candy and probably the worst stomachache he'll ever have.
I look forward to having him sit in my lap while I read Dr. Seuss. I haven't done Green Eggs and Ham in quite a while. And now I'll have a new audience for The Berenstain Bears Christmas Book, which my kids made me stop reading to them about 10 years ago. I'm convinced that reading to children, early and often, is one of the best gifts a parent or grandparent can give.
It makes them appreciate books and language and the safe feeling of cuddling up in a loving person's lap.
We'll have to go fishing, as often as I can sneak him away from his parents and grandmother and off to a little stream or lake. We don't have to catch anything, although a fish tugging on the line does relieve the monotony, especially for a youngster.
But time spent sitting on a stream bank with a child watching a bobber ride the ripples has to be one of the most wonderful things you can do this side of heaven.
Later on we'll master the intricacies of bass fishing and catching trout on a fly rod (as soon as I learn how).
We'll ride roller coasters and hunt seashells on the beach. When he's old enough, but not too old, I want to take him with me to visit farms.
I'd like to show him what a shirt looks like while it's still growing on a cotton stalk. I want him to learn where milk comes from and hamburger and broccoli. But mostly I want him to meet the people who grow all that stuff and who have taught me so much about hard work, honesty, and pride.
I hope to help teach him to appreciate the value of a day's work, the feeling of accomplishment of completing a hard task and that sweat and dirty hands are reasons to be proud, not embarrassed.
All that probably seems a bit selfish, and it is. But I also look forward to seeing his mom and dad grow with him and learn new things as they teach him. And I'll thoroughly enjoy watching my wife become a doting grandmother. She's already off to a good start.