ODE TO AMELIA

Parade Magazine has published a reminder that grandparent’s day was coming up. Not long ago that 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. They get misty eyed when talking about their grandchildren. Mine glaze over.

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

We adore Henry, who has just turned five. He is the son of one of our two boys.

So we know something about how the Y chromosome works.

But we knew nothing about little girls — little girls like Amelia, Henry’s sister who is now three. And she was worth waiting for! OK, maybe she’s a normal girl who seems unique just to us. Maybe all little girls are precocious.

Whatever. The issue for us is moot. Our delight in her could not be more, even if the rest of the world should see her as quite ordinary.

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

…A friend was regaling me about his 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 of 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.

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.

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 as I watch little Amelia working a jigsaw puzzle, pondering a piece as large as the palm of her hand, 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. Still, my only thought watching Amelia bent over her puzzle is, I’ll crush the droopy eyed little romeo.

My son tells me boys knocking at the front door is not the way it’s done anymore. Oh well, some things will always remain the same. If Amelia says, “Jump off that cliff, grandpa”, I’ll jump. Just like all those other grandparents of little girls would.

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