ODE TO AMELIA

Grandparents Day has passed by, almost without notice. Not long ago it would have escaped my notice entirely. I didn’t even know we celebrated that. But now, here in our elder years, we have become grandparents to grandchildren who live nearby.

I know we are not the first people in the history of the world to have become grandparents — though we feel we are. Most friends our age have been there, done that. Their eyes misted up when they talked about their grandchildren. Mine glazed over.

But now I am the one with misty eyes — and I ignore the glaze creeping up in their eyes as I prattle on.

We had two sons, and now have two grandsons.

So we know something about how the Y chromosome works.

But now we also have a granddaughter. We knew nothing about little girls — little three-year-olds like Amelia. She was well worth the wait. OK, maybe she’s a normal little girl. Maybe she just seems unique to us. For what we know of little girls all of them are precocious.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Our delight in her could not be more, even if the rest of the world should see her as quite ordinary.

But that adoration doesn’t inspire only benign thoughts. I am watching Amelia playing on the floor in front of me. My mind drifts back…

…A friend was regaling me about his recent concern over his daughter. She was coming up on her puberty years. Bryan swore he would slam the door in the face of any male over 12 years old who comes knocking. Of course I was amused at the fuss he was making about it. I was the father of only boys, boys who might one day face a father just like Bryan.

A couple years later, we were visiting at his house. Miranda was in her early teens by now. We adults were sitting at the dining room table. She was upstairs in her room with her boyfriend, “doing homework”.

Bryan was beside himself. He made trip after trip up the stairs. “Just checking,” he said.

After his second or third patrol he came down to report alarming news: They were in bed together! Was the door open? Yes. Did they have books open? Yes. Were their clothes on? Well — yes.

We scoffed. Still, Bryan would dream up one excuse after another to go upstairs. One trip he came back down carrying a shotgun. “Just in case”, he said. We all laughed. We knew he was just kidding — sort of…

But now I watch little Amelia working a jigsaw puzzle, pondering a piece as large as the palm of her hand, and I’m beginning to understand why Bryan was so unsettled.

I think of Amelia growing up. No — I do not see her in middle school receiving a trophy for her athletic prowess; nor hear the applause for her smashing performance in some school play.

I skip over all that. Instead, I think of her as a teenager. And, up pops that boy Bryan saw knocking at the front door for Miranda. I’ll be deep in my eighties by then. But my only thought watching Amelia bent over her puzzle is, I’ll crush the droopy eyed little romeo.

Her father tells me boys knocking at the front door is not the way it’s done anymore. Still, some things remain the same. For instance, if Amelia says, “Jump off that cliff, grandpa”, I’ll jump. Just as grandparents of little girls always have and always will.