Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm the Dad, Not the Grandpa

One of my favorite things about Facebook is that it gives me a chance to keep up with some of the people I knew in high school. It’s good to see how their lives are going and what they are doing. From Facebook I’ll learn some of their political leanings, read some funny stories and jokes, and see a lot of pictures of what they find important.

And, for a large number of my high school classmates, the photos they hold so dear are of one thing: grandkids!

Most of the people I went to high school with are now grandparents. Kids who were freshmen or sophomores when I graduated already have multiple grandchildren. One classmate/best friend already has five grandkids! And, it’s great seeing the pictures of these cute little kiddos with their proud and happy grandparents.

And then, there’s me. They call me “Slow Joe” for a reason. While many of my schoolmates were getting married and having kids when they were in their late teens and early twenties, I didn’t get married until I was 40. Last month, while most of my friends were posting grandkid pictures, my wife and I were having our fourth child! I have an eight year-old girl (Thing 1,) a six year-old boy (Thing 2,) an 18 month-old baby girl (Thing 3,) and a one month-old baby boy (Thing 4.)

It’s going to be a while before I become a grandpa.

But, that’s not going to stop people from thinking I am one. It’s already happened a few times. Several weeks ago I was at the car dealership with Thing 3, getting work done on the mini-van. As we waited and I tried to keep her entertained, and elderly man approached me and said, “So, you’re out with your granddaughter today?” I shook my head and spoke the words I have a feeling I’ll be saying often over the next several years:

“No, I’m the dad, not the grandpa.”

As I write this, I’m less than two weeks away from being 50 years old. Thing 1 just finished second grade. In ten years, when she graduates from high school, I’ll be just weeks away from 60. And, even more frightening, when Thing 4 finishes high school, I’ll be 67 years old! (Unless he’s a Doogie Howser-ish genius, but even then I’ll still likely be the oldest dad in school.)

But, it's not like I'm the oldest dad ever. David Letterman was 56 when his son Harry was born. Billy Joel was 66 when he had his second child. It's not like I'm actor Tony Randall, who got remarried at age 75 and had two kids. Compared to these guys, I'm a young whippersnapper!

Dad or Grandpa?

There are a few things I worry about, though. Will I still be able to go hiking with the kids when they’re teenagers? Will I be able to play flag football with them? Will I be able to teach them how to shoot a basketball? (Of course, some of the guys I play basketball with might say it would probably be better if someone who actually knows how to shoot be the one to teach them.)

It's funny, but being an older dad is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, dealing with these cute little hooligans keeps me young. I feel like any other young father fumbling around to try to raise his kids. But, on the other hand, chasing after these cute little hooligans wears me out and makes me feel old and out of my league. I sometimes feel like I should be the grandpa.

But, I'm the dad, not the grandpa.

Whenever I talk to my contemporaries about my kids, my old friends often get a far off twinkle in their eye, and they'll say something like, "Joe, enjoy this time. Enjoy what you have now with your kids. It goes by so quickly." And I can tell they mean it.

They also tell me that being a grandparent is absolutely wonderful. It's fantastic. And I can tell they mean that, too. I look forward to the day when I can be Grandpa.

But for now, I'm the dad, and I'm fine with that. I'm going to embrace and enjoy every moment of it. I love my kids, and I don't really care what the old guy at the car dealership or the nosy lady at the grocery store say to me.

I'm the dad, not the grandpa. And I love every minute of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment