Being a grandparent comes naturally to some people. I am not one of them.
It’s not that I don’t like kids. I love kids and have three of them. Two are married and the third, Joe, is headed off to college next month. I take pride in their successes and feel their hurt when they stumble.
But I wasn’t prepared for grandchildren when the first one arrived 10 years ago. I was recently married, after having been a widower, and my first reaction was: I can’t be that old.
My wife, Jenny, who had just become a stepmother to two grown children, all of a sudden was a grandmother. She adapted to her new role quickly She delights in the department store children’s section and knows just the thing to pick out at Toys R Us.
Two years later, when my son, Jon, and his wife, who live in northern Virginia, had their second child, I was still adapting. (They now have three.)
Three years after that, my daughter, Morgan, and her husband, Ryan, who live in Pittsburgh, had their first child. Morgan has always put things off to the last minute so I was only mildly shocked that they had not settled on a name. He caught them by surprise by arriving 10 days early, Morgan explained.
Two days later, she called to say they had struggled between three choices, but had picked “Sebastian.”
Golly, what were the other choices, I thought, as possible nicknames rolled through my head. But being well down the road to adapting, I kept my mouth shut. Jenny was pleased.
Then, Morgan said, “So, Dad, what do you think of the name?”
“He’d better learn to fight,” I blurted out. Jenny was not pleased.
I got a better grandparent report card from Jenny (she’s a teacher, you know) after Morgan, Ryan and Sebastian wound up a four-day visit to New Albany on Sunday.
I was pretty proud of myself, especially considering much of our meal planning for the visit went out the window a couple of days before they arrived. (Because Ryan is a vegetarian, we had planned meal outings carefully to accommodate everyone’s taste.) I happened to mention on the phone to Morgan that we thought we would order pizza the first night because they might be arriving late.
After a bit of phone silence, Morgan said she must have forgotten to mention that she and Sebastian had developed an allergy to gluten (wheat) and couldn’t eat any bread, pasta or anything similar, such as pizza crust.
So we crossed off our plans for eating out at Vainisi’s and Union Station and cooking hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill. With some careful food market shopping, we got through the weekend without anyone going hungry.
And Sebastian was a delight. He immediately paired up with Uncle Joe, though, and could not have cared less if Grandpa was around. Uncle Joe likes to swim; Grandpa doesn’t. Uncle Joe is good at video games; Grandpa isn’t. You get the picture.
All and all, it was a successful visit. And Monday my lunch plan returned to normal: Enjoying a big cheeseburger while trying to walk the fine line between gluten and glutton.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.