Libby as bottlebrush

Libby is growing her hair like a bottle brush
so she can be a donor for my transplant

The reason it’s such fun is nothing as crass as that you can hand them back afterwards, as people say. It’s that, freed from the 24/7 responsibility of total care for a new life, you can actually observe and enjoy. All the stuff you never had time or energy for, when you were actually doing the job yourself, worrying about whether you were getting it right, simply trying to survive emotionally and physically, and provide for your family – all that stuff, is now what you’re there for. It’s your job, as a grandparent! You’re there to be an enjoyer.

And what you get to watch and enjoy is truly awesome. The intelligence of the newborn human, the sheer amount of learning and discovery in the first days and weeks of life, are staggeringly beyond imagining – except for the fact that we see it every time a child is born.

Libby is 8 weeks old. We’ve been so privileged to see her at least once a week. Watching her learn to hold her head up, respond to faces, smile, try to “talk” to you, first by moving her mouth and tongue – because that’s what the big people do when they look at you and make noises – and then experiment until she starts making little sounds herself. And such pleasure and satisfaction when she succeeds… Watching the little games she has learned and enjoys: like when she’s lying on her changing mat and pushes her legs against the adult standing in front of her so that she slides away on the mat. What’s the most fun thing about that? The stretching, the moving, the seeing Mummy’s face grow more distant, the adult laughing with her? Doesn’t matter – let’s do it again!

And one of the most beautiful things of all, is watching your little girl become a competent and happy mother. She doesn’t know that’s what she is – she’s still a tempest of emotion and responsibility and worry about whether she’s getting it right. But on top of being a grandpa, this is one of life’s most moving and beautiful sights.

6 thoughts on “Grandparenting

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