These could be shocking words. But when my 8-year-old daughter squealed them recently, I chuckled. She was playing with my hair—bored out of her skull while watching her 14-year-old brother play baseball. Again. She had just discovered silver in my hair. I guess that’s what Grandpas got.
At a certain age, watching your son pitch his way out of an extra-inning game provides the thrill that used to come from, say, sailing choppy seas in the Caribbean. After all, he’s my baby: My 6-foot tall, size-16 shoe baby. This is his time to shine, and mine to bask. Yet many folks are grandparenting vets by 50.
But God bless the grown-ups who live by the five-word mantra, “Everything is right on schedule.” For some, that agenda includes time for travel—for exciting BreakAways that might more easily happen before diaper duty calls.
Some parenting gurus say you can’t spoil your children, at least when it comes to attention and affection (versus possessions). If so, then successful parents best be prepared to give all—and give up much. And that’s where life-planning comes in handy, inasmuch as life allows plans.
Want to spoil yourself? See the world? Make a proper nest and nest egg before the hatchlings pop out? I did, I guess. And it has made all the difference. Because when the kids come, there’s no turning back. You’re committed for life.
That’s not to say you’ll never wander again. As one sage (and early) parent told me, “They go where I go.” And mine have—around the world, through the West Indies, on countless old-fashioned vacations, and to the rowdy bar.
But as youngsters grow up, their hearts grow fonder of home—where the friends (and games) are. Being absent grows harder, as if it were ever easy to begin with. The obstacle course only gets more complex for the parental-unit career breaker.
But as this site has persistently preached: You can have it all—just not all at once. So before they escape your embrace, hold on to your children (and your childishness). Take them on tour, even when they resist. Show them the world and know when to shut up—so they can experience it for themselves.
More important: Don’t rush things. That’s hard in the harried world they live in. But it’s true: Good things take their sweet time. So does baseball—a game that, like life, includes no clock.
Me? A grandpa? No, no, no, dear daughter. Someday maybe, but certainly not yet. Your brother is pitching his way out of a jam; let’s also take one batter at a time.
So for now, let’s cheer him on to victory. Feel free to yank out those (very few) gray hairs. And then let’s go kick your pink soccer ball around.