By Rusty Draper
In my home there is no question as to who ranks as the “superior grandparent.” My wife Pat wins hands down. But I ask, “Why?” When we go for a visit to see our grandchildren, I’m the one who brings them all the treats, and I’m the first they run to, but only to see what treat I spent my money on for that particular day. After the boys realize that my treat is the same as every other time, the attention immediately goes to Nana. I thought that Tim-Bits would surely win them over. So, what does my wife offer that I don’t?
We barely get inside the door and the boys are wound up like an Eight Day Clock. These kids immediately insist on showing us all their toys, and eagerly begging to read us two or three chapters from their latest book. One cannot help but notice that each of these lovely children all wear T-shirts that say, I LOVE NANA. Oh, I have search through their wardrobe to find one that says I LOVE POPPA. No such luck!
The age grouping for these adorable grandchildren is as follows: One boy is six years old, and the other is three, plus a new princess addition, a three-month old baby girl who’s too young yet to have a bias.
I have a funny feeling that the boys think I’m just an old grouch, and I don’t know why. When they’re persistent in telling me about the Three Bears and Goldilocks story, I’m equally determined for them to hear my latest take on the up-coming election, or the dilemma that Covid-19 is causing. I feel these are topics that children need to be engaged in.
So why does the pendulum sway so heavily toward Nana?
The dear woman whom I’ve now been married to for 53 years takes RISKS. Understand friends, Pat and I ain’t no spring chickens anymore, but still, she will get down on her hands and knees and play with these darlings, and never once complain that her old bones are in agony. One would think that as a retired nurse she would know better.
Well, you can probably guess what happened next. Not wanting to be outdone by my competition, I gingerly try my best to get slowly down on the floor just like Nana and join in on all the fun. Things really go well, for the first two minutes, then this old boy needs a “time out” from all this playful interaction with the boys and pretending I’m the engineer on the toy Choo Choo Train. With a little bit of imagination, I’m sure you can visualize the next picture in my predicament. Here I am, both hands and knees on the floor, and a panicked pale look on my face. It’s at this point it all started to dawn on me, the trip down to the floor is going to quickly prove to be the easy part. Getting back up on my feet, will be a much different story. This is where Pat, the boys, and the local towing company come to the rescue. I knew that I’d get some use out my CAA membership someday.
Now, here’s a recent event you’ll have trouble believing. Always wanting the boys to experience something parallel to living on the edge, we took them to a splash pad at a park. After an exhilarating time of getting wet, Nana finds two tables under a canopy. Seared into the top of each table was a Checker Board. I still shake my head at what I witnessed that day. Here was Pat with our two grandboys playing Checkers. The three of them were having a whale of a time playing this age-old game.
It’s now time to reveal something you DON’T KNOW …
*The Checker Board had NO Checker’s.
Nana and the two young boys were competitively engrossed in this PRETEND game of Checkers for over an hour. Yes, I said “an HOUR.”
How is this possible? It’s at this point, you’re probably understanding why I’m writing this article about babysitting. You see, it doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, how one well matured adult, and two very young children, can find this so entertaining, and for so long. They each take turns to make their well thought out next move.
Pat’s mother was her mentor in learning the technique of winning over the grandchildren. In our teen years when Pat and I were dating, I witnessed on many occasions Pat’s mom work her magic. She could handle having about six grandchildren gathered around the old kitchen table, all wanting Gramma to play a game … separate games. And she could do it with ease.
Well folks, I’m quite concerned that I’m on the losing side of this “Grandchild Admiration War.”
Way down deep, I really believe that I’m a fun Poppa. For instance, when the boys come to our place for a sleep-over, I go all out to make their stay a memorable one. I let them sleep in my office on a comfortable bed, and I have little yellow Postie Notes everywhere that clearly indicate DO NOT TOUCH. It’s all for their benefit of course. Another wonderful thing I do for the boys, is play my guitar and sing old country songs. Not just any country songs, but I give them nothing but classic Cowboy music. Songs like, The Green Green Grass of Home, Folsom Prison Blues, and who could forget the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. Our boys go wild when they hear Poppa belt out those Hillbilly Songs. It’s odd why they always applaud from another room, (you know the room where cartoons are on the TV.)
Yes, I sure am good to those boys, but Nana definitely is in the winner’s circle which is still a mystery to me. Far be it for me to boast, but I will now close by sharing with you something that is quite personal. This will demonstrate the limit I went to, to win their hearts. Are you ready? For both boys, I personally autographed a copy of my recent book … for FREE. I wonder if they appreciate that I normally get $20.00 plus tax.
Rusty Draper was born and raised in Gravenhurst. His first job in radio was at CKAR in Huntsville, and to end his radio career he was the first voice on Muskoka FM in Bracebridge. Rusty is also a pastor, author, and raconteur.(the fancy way of saying storyteller).
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