The Top 5 Benefits of Hanging Around My Granddaughter
As I may have mentioned before, our two year old granddaughter, Leila, lives with us. About the time my wife, Dana, and I figured that we had lived out our usefulness as parents of small children, we were dusted off and brought back into service. I’ve titled this essay as “hanging around MY granddaughter” and not OUR granddaughter because this Top 5 list is specific to me and the things I find remarkably useful in Leila. Dana surely has her own unpublished list but if she wants to write about it she’ll need her own outlet.
When our youngest went off to college our minds were full of things to do with our new found free time. We could eat out all the time, no more cooking heathy, nutritionally rewarding meals for a kid who subsisted off of chocolate and Pop Tarts anyway. Unlimited and spontaneous vacations would be the rule. Like I said, we had done our time.
Enter Leila. There is a quote I read not long ago that’s was attributed to Sandra Bullock. I couldn’t find the quote anywhere but I read it on the internet which means it must be true. Whomever spoke it, it resonated with me especially in my current living situation. It went something like this, “If I didn’t have children my wallet would be full, my house would be clean but my heart would be empty.” That’s pretty true. She has spent a few nights away from home visiting her Granny and those weekends, that we assumed would be full of bacchanalia and debauchery, were instead left empty and rather unfulfilling. Most of our conversation revolved around saying Leila-isms, like, “I do it self!” Or, “Piggy poop,” which is a term she uses to shift blame to the dog when she had pooped in her diaper.
Parenting at the age of fifty is different than when I was in my twenties. Leila would live outside if we let her, I hate going outside save for about eight or nine days of the year when I don’t sweat or freeze to death. Playing on the floor, for me, is, for the most part, an exercise in pain, an exploration of body parts that I haven’t used in decades. I do it but getting up and waiting for my left knee to unlock is an adventure in itself. Leila likes to play with trucks. She makes all the requisite noises as she shoves them across the floor but sometimes I have to use my foot to move my truck while I sit in my chair watching ESPN. It’s just part of what happens when your caregivers are old. I know the things I’m supposed to do it’s just that I’m not physically able or emotionally willing to anymore.
In the end, though, I wouldn’t trade a day with Leila for a vacation to anyplace in the whole world and getting up in the pitch black at 5 AM to slice kiwi in the exact shape she prefers is an honor and never a chore, besides what would I be doing otherwise? Sleeping?
All the syrupy stuff aside, I have found a few rather impressive side benefits to toting your granddaughter around with you that for some reason escaped me when my own kids were little.
Exposure to immunity from viruses
They say that you can only get so many colds in your life as there are a finite number of viruses that cause the common cold. I remember the number being something like 150 but I could be wrong and you know my policy on looking things up while I write. I feel like if you want to know so badly, you can just do it yourself. Having had four kids already, I have been exposed to and suffered through well over one hundred colds in my fifty years leaving me at least fifty more to get out of the way. While I have, for quite some time, assumed that these last vestiges of virus dwelled in some deep, dark jungle, Leila has kindly, yet unknowingly, volunteered to help me discover that I was wrong. In actuality, these viruses live in the dried snot on the toys in her school and in the noses of the other crumbsnatchers she calls friends.
While Dana and I work during the day, Leila goes to daycare, we call it school, and walking into that place you can actually feel the infestation climbing up your arms heading straight for your nasal cavities. In the first month and a half of her attending Typhoid Mary’s Petri Dish for the Young, I had acquired at least three colds and had seen my impressive twenty-three and a half year vomit streak come to an end.
The germs in the place are so big and virulent that you can actually see them crawling up your sleeve towards your nasal cavities! They have faces and they laugh at you when you try to sanitize yourself against them.
The way I figure it, by the time Leila has finished at “school,” Dana and I will have encountered and suffered through the last remaining cold viruses and in retirement, never get sick again. So, we have that going for us.
A Solid excuse for not going out
I’ve never been a “clubbin” kind of guy. I hate loud noises and dancing is stupid so I am left with dinner and a movie. A lot of our friends are twenty years younger than we are. I love them but, “No, I would prefer to not meet you for tailgating at 6 AM in the ten below wind-chill. Thanks though. And, no, I’m not a giant boring douche for not going, I’m actually much smarter than you as I will be warm in my house drinking good beer that didn’t cost me license to my first born. You have fun though and tell me all about it on Monday.”
When you have a two year old, you have a built in excuse for avoiding just about everything. “You say you’ve signed up for a “can’t miss” multi-level marketing ploy and you’re having a party to tell our of your friends about it? Aww, dammit! I wanted to be there for that but we don’t have a sitter. Sorry.”
What happened to Amway anyway? Is it still a company anyway?
“You say you’re moving and at the age of forty still think your friends are going to help you because you dangled some pizza in front of them? You are aware college ended like twenty years ago and there are companies who specialize in taking your stuff from the old place to the new one, right? I’d be there for you man but we have Leila and if I brought her she would just get in the way. Good luck with all that though.”
“Man, I’d love to come to your Pampered Chef party because there is nothing I like more than spending ridiculous amounts of money on pots and pans that I can get for half that at Walmart. Too bad it’s after Leila’s bedtime. So maybe call me the next time you get into a multi-leveled marketing scheme, cool?”
Stains on my clothes
Leila has no concept or the ability to know just how much I pay for my zip up Tommy Bahama sweaters that I wear just about every day in the winter. In fact, she couldn’t care if I’m wearing a torn up old t-shirt full of holes, it’s all the same to her. I knew this going in. Like I said, I have four kids of my own. What never occurred to me as a benefit to this was that I could blame food stains that I made out of my own carelessness on Leila and actually get away with it.
I obviously can’t wash a sweater every time I wear it and as I tend to have the eating habits of a fat, sweaty hog sidling up to the trough for my next unhealthy meal, I spill. Whereas I used to have to make some asinine excuse as to why there was a huge stain on my sweater, like, “Oh, I did that on the way to work this morning. Thanks for reminding me!” Now all I have to do is say, “Leila.” My disgusting stain instantly becomes cute! The disgusted looks I used to get have turned into comments like, “She’s so cute! How can you stand it?” Why didn’t I think of this before? I could be covered in grease stains and Pop Tart innards, from my own doing, of course, drop a knowing nod of Leila and all is forgiven? Brilliant!!
I am instantly attractive to women again
It didn’t take me long to figure out that Leila is a chick magnet. In fact, the very first time I took her with me to the grocery store, we had barely made it in the door before women started flocking to me like I was Brad Pitt. Now, let’s be clear here, I am not deluded enough to believe for one second that this attention had anything to do with me. I am well aware that I am old and well passed my prime. My hands are getting age spots, if I stay out in the sun too long I get age spots on my face that won’t go away, I’m over-weight, I’m not fun and I’m kind of crabby. None of those qualities are even remotely appealing to women. But take me and all of my grossness and add a cute baby and all of my blemishes disappear. No one notices my gut or that I walk around with a perpetual sneer on my face. In fact, I’m pretty much not there at all in their minds but at least they didn’t run away like I was the Elephant Man or something like they used to. She is like a delicious cherry on the disgusting poop sundae that is me.
I no longer need to hold back
On the list of funniest things to do to my children is to fart in public and blame them. Disgusting? Yes but equally hilarious. As much as I enjoyed doing it I can’t help but think that it may have left some residual emotional damage that they may not recover from without the aid of some deep therapy or until they can do it to children of their own. All of this leads me to the last but arguably the best reason to hang around with my granddaughter, farting in public and blaming her.
Most of this flatulence seems to go down when we’re at the grocery store. Not sure why exactly maybe because it’s one of the few places I’ll dare take Leila on my own. It’s usually a short trip and it’s close to home.
Who hasn’t been stuck in the precarious situation of having to unload a giant fart but can’t because there are people nearby. Even if you could somehow pass the gas silently, the odor would implicate you. I have solved this problem, bring Leila along, hold nothing back and unload on unsuspecting strangers. I have even used the line, “How embarrassing. You probably thought I did that.”
Who would have thought that there was so much more to being a grandfather?