serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Being a grandparent

Posted by Vincent on 01/10/07

When I was a little kid, my picture of “grandpop” was of a little old guy with spectacles, stooped posture, a little paunch, a distinctive limp and false teeth. My grandfather often brought a smile and a wink with him, but he wasn’t particularly able to relate to me. I recall we sometimes played checkers or cards; however, I don’t remember doing anything special with him. We never went off exploring together (except for an occasional movie). He seemed more interested in assigning me chores (and imposing discipline) than teaching me values and how to think. Grandpa was a part of my life, but he was actually more of a babysitter than anything else.

Too proud to be vulnerable, he wasn’t really “accessible”. He never really knew me or dialogued with me to any extent. He didn’t serve as a confidant, guide or mentor. We never had a heart-to-heart conversation, and I never felt particularly safe or connected with him. Maybe this was just our family. Maybe it was the times. Or perhaps it was both.

I can tell you that being a granddad in 2007 for me is a very different experience. Okay, so I wear glasses and fight having a paunch. Yet, while my granddad in his 60s looked like he was 70, I’m 60 and look like I’m in my 50’s (well, okay 591/2 — just wait ’til I’m done my liposuction!). More importantly, I relate to my grandchildren powerfully: I am full of life and have unconditional love for them, and they with me. We are very physically active together and extraordinarily involved. We have taken several journeys together—in fact, we take some sort of adventure every time we’re together. We’ve mastered Charades. We visit frequently. We talk often. I listen a lot. We laugh even more. They teach me and I them. We play and play at the game of life together. In fact, they’ve given me new meaning to exploring and playing (even though we live 3,000 miles away from each other.)

We are deeply connected.

I am committed to building an exceptional relationship with my grandkids—filled with joy, adventure, intimacy and safety. My children support (and appreciate) this. In fact, my commitment to my grandchildren has built an even stronger bond with my children and their spouses. We all act according to this commitment. We will not let miles limit or separate us. I hop on a coast-to-coast plane every 6 weeks. We talk frequently on the phone. They’re too young to use email yet, but I email them photos and stuff through their mom and dad. I make audio and videotapes for them. I bought webcams for my computer and their computer—so we can join our faces with our voices.

Frankly, I’m thrilled and amazed at how I’ve taken to grandparenting and how both my kids and grandchildren have taken to me being a grandparent. Of course, I have technology and financial means that my grandparents didn’t have in the 1950s. But, I have much, much more than that. I know what was missing for me and that has informed my awareness of what’s possible being a granddad. I’ve developed a fairly high level of consciousness about my responsibility. I rarely experience more joy and self-expression than I do with these little ones. I have a profound awareness of the vulnerability of life on this planet. I’ve worked hard on myself and have transformed my fears into august actions.

Maybe this is just our family, maybe it is the times. Or perhaps it’s both.

What do you think?


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