Living Out Loud

On Grandparenting


I had children early and thus got a head start on becoming a grandparent. That delightful event happened 19 years ago with the birth of Braedyn when I was 40 and has since been repeated a dozen more times. Wonder Woman and I have five grown children ranging in age from 34 to 40. Our youngest grandchild is Genevieve who along with the second youngest, James will start kindergarten this fall. 

We had a family birthday party today for my sweet mother-in-law's 80th. I had been with Genevieve at her piano lesson and was a little late arriving, When I got out of the car, nine-year old Harper came barreling across the parking lot, shouting "Papa" to give me a hug, followed right behind by her 11-year-old brother Forrest. Those shouts of my name and the initial hugs on any given visit fill me with the kind of joy nothing else can produce. They will pay me varying degrees of attention, but they always act like it makes their day just to see my and their Nana.

Along with their 7-year-old brother, Tristen, Forrest and Harper are the only grandkids to call me Papa, a habit Forrest picked up while visiting another set of grandparents. Genevieve and her three brothers call me Lou, my name, because I never asked to be called anything different. All my other grandkids call me Big D, short for Big Daddy, which is the name I chose before any of them were born.

Thanks to Wonder Woman's record keeping and Amazon skills, we remember every birthday and Christmas, which starts adding up when you have so many. We don't go overboard though, so it's manageable. We ship presents to four different states because the kids are scattered: NC, VA, TX and AK. The ones who live the closest are the ones we get to see the most, obviously. Only Braedyn is left in Texas and since graduating high school last year he has been in a "I'm going to assert my independence" stage and hasn't been very communicative, which stings a little but is understandable. 

Of course, every single one of the grandkids is above average, just like in Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone. Darrien will start at Virginia Tech in the engineering program in the fall. Tracy is going to an honors high school in Fairbanks, Alaska which has an IT path in cooperation with the local community college. Aiden is an accomplished musician and the only kid at his recent music recital to play two instruments on the same song, guitar and drums performing Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Jolene is our blue ribbon winning equestrian. Dylan is making honor-roll grades while working a dream job in her grandmother's record store. Aurora was our only out of town elementary school aged kid this year and her mom says she will either be a mob enforcer or a standup comic. Connor who has mobility issues, recently dropped an F-bomb in front of his Nana when he found out we'd gotten him a car that can be fitted with hand controls.

If you've made it this far, thanks for letting me get windy about the loves of my life!