Today is a fairly special day that, similar to Columbus Day or Victory Over Japan Day, will be celebrated without streamers, kazoos or national parades. It is, as most things of this nature are, bittersweet.
Today is our last day as a family of four before The Process begins. Obviously nothing clinical is being thrown into full swing at this point but The Family is beginning their slow descent towards us, circling the fresh meat like buzzards. KAW! KAW!
My mother-in-law, whom I love and respect dearly (June, you do read this blog, correct?), will be gracing us with her wisdom, compassion, charm and, overall humanitarian efforts as of early tomorrow afternoon. I make a point to mention this because there is a strange transformation that becomes children when their grandmother (the Royal grandmother, not specifically this one) is in presence. The children seem to… how do I say this politely… they seem to forget that I am their father and that Jade is their mother. Or rather, they seem to forget that we are alive… or that we ever existed… or that I’m standing right next to them asking a question.
Hello? Hello? Echo? Am I a ghost? Boo.
I say, “Candy,” but it has no effect. I say, “You want to come sit with Da–” and the kids are gone, disappeared around the corner where Grandma is washing dishes. I am being one-upped by a piece of cheap ceramic with carrots crusted to its surface. At this point a fish holds more appeal than I do. I say, “Let’s take a bath!” and they say, “Grandma! Bath time!” and I slump my shoulders and walk outside, dejected, feeling like the cocker spaniel from Lady and the Tramp.
I know why the caged bird sings!
At night I say, “Bedtime! Let’s go read a–” and Quinn will shout, “BOOK!” and I’ll say, “Yeah!” and she’ll say, “Grandma, read me this!” and I’ll decide that, hey, if ya can’t beat em, join em! So I sit in the bedroom but both kids just fight for space on her lap while I sit awkwardly nearby, the third wheel, listening to a fairy tale that I bet I could read better just give me that shot!
Eventually I stand up and leave because I feel like the lurking man hiding in shadows in the children’s library and it’s even giving me the willies.
But I also know that, come Monday and come the new child, that it is she that will smooth over the rough spots and it’s she that will make sure our kids don’t feel neglected in those first weeks and it’s she that will put this little baby on such a high pedestal that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to reach it.
I try to imagine Rory having a son or Quinn having a daughter or Baby 3 having a family so large they get their own reality show and I wonder what type of grandparent I will be. I realize that parenting isn’t over when my children turn 18 or 20 or 30 or when they move out or get married or become President of their Local Elk’s Lodge. It ends when… it doesn’t end.
You just hope that you raise your children into the most fruitful adults they can be because at some point you’re going to have to sit back and watch them do it themselves and watch them make your mistakes or learn from them and when you get an opportunity to attach yourself to Third-Gen-You, you’ll do so with every bit of energy you have.
You’ll steal your grandchildren away for as long as you can and hug them and read to them and life goes on and on and on.
Do I begrudge The Grandparents for stealing my children away from me, sending my pride reeling into the streets and damaging my ego beyond repair?
I actually plan to do the same thing to my kids in about 25 years.