Since the birth of our latest grandchild (number 5) in Australia in November, we have had the great thrill of visiting and goggling with him and his proud parents on Face time over the past five months. What we are now really looking forward to is later this month when our son Andrew, his wife Tara and little Liam are coming home to visit us on their way back to working on the big farm in Saskatchewan.
Lately we have had a whole lot of fun going into the baby section of every store and picking out some cute outfits for little boys that will hopefully fit now or well into the future. I must be getting old and mellowed because it has been a long time since we went shopping for little booties, bonnets and noisy and cuddly toys that squeak, go round and round and sing songs, and I didn’t get stressed or bored at all. While browsing through the baby-section, I was able to fondly recognize some of the age-old standbys such as baby-powder, Vaseline, Pablum and multi-flavours of tiny bottles of baby-food, which most of us as parents were forced to taste-test (yucky) before trying to coax our little duffers to devour. I was overwhelmed by all the new fancy toys, furniture and gadgets that are apparently now required to bring up healthy and bouncy babies these days. My biggest shock occurred when I realized just how many varieties there are of those fancy new just stick-me-on diapers, which in most cases have replaced those fluffy and soft cloth models that my mother used to hang on the outside line to dry every morning. Once I got a little older, mom always told me that we were so poor when I was born that I had to sleep in a drawer, that she had to put vinegar on my thumb to stop me from sucking, and insisted every day that I should eat everything that was put in front of me if I wanted to grow as big as my dad.
The kids asked us to pick out a new car seat that they had ordered in Canada to use for their trip to Saskatchewan, as well as for travels throughout the summer. Remember back when we used to hold our kids tightly on our laps when we ventured out in a vehicle, and that the only portables that we carried for outings were the potties and the neat baby-seats that we strapped to the back of our bikes? Once we got the seat unpacked at home, we now have to figure out how to attach it into the back seat of our car, as strict new government regulations tell us that the poor child has to look out the back window until they get to be 30 pounds, then get flipped around to smile at everyone in the front seat for a few more months. We also got them a handy-dandy pack and play pen and bed, which sets up in seconds, then folds up like an accordion for storage.
Throughout this exciting process of welcoming a tiny new and precious addition to our families, we likely can’t help looking back at those glorious adventures several decades ago when we were bringing up our children. As dads, we had to get pretty good at changing diapers, got stuck several times with those big safety pins, but now as grandparents we will have to get used to that traditional smell of poop and baby-powder around the house once again. If we get to babysit the little guy, I know that my wife will take on the strong maternal role, but I have always enjoyed spoon-feeding all the other ones, as long as I am wearing an apron. When it comes to handling a bottle, I love to snuggle-sing and rock, but I hope someone else volunteers to do the burping, and the perfect ending is when we both fall asleep together on the couch full and happy. But if all else fails, please pass me the darn soother. It is a well known fact that grandparents have the softest knees, best cuddles, and hugs, and are usually a real soft touch, especially when those tiny babies get a little older.
Whatever the case, as grandparents we have and always will be proud as punch to pamper and push all of our grandchildren around the neighbourhood in their strollers so that everyone can admire them. Who knows, a few might even say that he or she looks a little like grandma when she was young, or has grandpas’ cheeks, 71 years ago, without the beard of course. Please continue to cherish every second of this ongoing and traditional ‘family connection’ over the years, pausing to look back at the countless precious memories, while always hoping and praying that ‘our way’ and our support and inspiration will always turn out for the best. Have a great week, all of you.