The First Timers Guide - A Monthly Chronicle for the New Grandparent 5


By Gary P. Joyce



There are a lot of different rites subscribed to when it comes to welcoming a child into a parent’s religion, and in Catholicism it’s called Baptism. It’s sort of a simple rite; the child, accompanied by parents, Godparents, family and friends shows up at the church, a priest drips the symbolic water over the child’s head, blesses the kiddo and off we go … usually to a party in which everyone gets to hold the kid and say all the kinds of things to the kid that people who hold kids say. Those who actually attend church on a regular basis, know it’s time to congratulate the parents and grandparents for starting the religious affiliation, but other than that it’s a pretty straight forward event.

Since this event, however, consists of two sets of grandparents, a mother and father and … oh, right, the child … it can get a wee bit complicated. It can get more than a wee bit complicated, when some of the participants are somewhat ticked off at some of the other participants for injuring said child. Allow me to explain, since all this started on our watch.

As regular readers of this column know, my living room holds enough kid gear to qualify for a Federal pre-school subsidy for about 10 children. Nonetheless, every Saturday, my wife adds to it with some kind of contraption that our grandchild may — or may not — use at some point in his development. The latest was a cross between a swing, a walker and a slingshot. The baby goes in the walker-like seat, suspended at four points with some bungee-like cord and that’s it.

Travis, our grandchild, who at four months is more advanced than any child in the world has ever been or will ever be (it’s a grandparental right to say that, by the way) stood in the seat with those porkchop legs wobbling and stared blankly at us, a sort of “what do you want me to do now” look on his face. Then he let his weight go into the seat and noticed that it bounced. The next thing we knew, the kid was jumping up and down, giggling, grinning, drooling and otherwise going a million miles a minute in one place. This action went on and on, was photographed, filmed, filmed and put to music (“Wipeout” by the Safaris), and became the subject of phone calls to parents, who hurried to our home (we’d been babysitting) to catch this latest achievement in the world of abstract Quantum physics, which young Travis was sure to master next.

So. Kid goes home, parents take bouncy thing with them to show everyone else, and we fall exhausted on the couch. Phone rings, and it’s my son, better known as Travis’ dad.

The upshot of the ensuing conversation was essentially how could he ever again trust us with his son, since, when we returned Travis to their care, he had a “huge blister” on his foot. Needless to say my wife and I were aghast, and immediately started beating each other up for being so stupid as to allow a kid who had yet to put a mile on his chubby little feet, use his feet to bounce himself silly. Self flagellation may be good for the soul, but it isn’t a lot of fun in contemplation.

Comes the day for Travis’ Baptism and we mentally tiptoe up to our grandchild and his parents. My wife can barely contain herself from removing the child’s socks and shoes, and eventually does so, whereupon we discover the nearly fatal wound. If the kid had some skin that rubbed off, it was the size of the letter “O” on a keyboard. Admittedly with those small toes, that covers some space, but still …

Travis seemed totally unconcerned and or unaffected by the wound, more anxious to divest himself of the silly hat and “cute” brocaded vest he was wearing. Our son still glowered at us, while daughter-in-law raised her eyebrows while jerking her head towards our son.

Sacramental rites over, we head to the celebration at Travis’ other grandparent’s house and lo-and-behold, there’s the bouncy thing with Travis in it now doing moves worthy of an Olympic gymnast working out on the rings. Admittedly, the “other” grandparents had the sense to make him wear socks and put a soft pad under his feet, naturally earning us some more snide comments from our son who gleefully pointed out the additional paraphernalia.

Anyway, the kid lived, we goofed and what it goes to show is that as a grandparent, in all likelihood you’ve pretty much forgotten what goes in to keeping a baby safe and sound, so don’t try any thing new unless the parents are there to do it first.

It’s amazing that our kids grew up to have our grandkids with parents like us.

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