Published: Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
Here at the Great Thoughts Institute, we’re pursuing our never-ending quest for bliss in the American family. Today’s lesson is, “How to Avoid Grandchildren, and Is It Possible?” Ask any grandfather, and he’ll say it’s easier to give up tobacco and booze, even cussing, than it is to shuck our grandkids. We really do love the little guys, most of them, some of the time, like a litter of spotted pups, but the bottom line is we loathe being responsible for them. That’s logical, because responsibility, or the lack of it, is the root cause of granddaddyism in the first place. As a veteran of Extended Family Wars with multiple campaign ribbons, I’m willing to help you bypass that awful moment in life when the less experienced among you are cornered and forced to say, between sobs, “I’ll be glad to baby-sit your little Toodles. Oh, you don’t call him Toodles anymore? Not since he went to college, eh?” The need for guidance is obvious. But before we dig too deep into the whims of granddaddying, let me just say it’s not easy to stop being one. It may even be impossible for some of you wimps, because we’ve been conditioned over the years to be heartwarming, generous to a fault and willing to let our grandkids carry our golf clubs. But there comes a time when you need to test your mettle, because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself someday facing a waitress who’ll ask, “Grandpas or Old Grouches?” That’s when you glance at the seating arrangement in the restaurant and realize, as a grandpa, you’ll be crammed in with a coterie of careworn has-beens who lacked the backbone to simply say “no!” So, unwilling to be herded, you leave the restaurant and go home to a lonely bowl of Wheaties. But let me tell you from firsthand experience that it’s possible to give up grandkids while you’re still young enough to enjoy it, even though you may gain a few pounds. Commitment is the initial step. Various means of withdrawal come later. For instance, try the cold-turkey approach. It probably won’t work, because you’re a man who has little experience with willpower. But if you don’t at least try, you’ll soon be getting children’s books in plain brown wrappers in the mail and hiding them in chandeliers. So you probably should try hypnosis, psychosis and even halitosis, but they will fail too, because when you need them most, when your grandkids wake you for a drink of water at 2 a.m., you won’t remember your pledge to avoid them until it’s time to open your Father’s Day gifts. Whatever the method, you must awaken your pluck. You’ve been limping along for years with cliché expressions like, “I can take them or leave them any time I want to.” That’s the traditional role of a kindly old grandpa, even though you know down deep that you’re only providing evil manufacturers of plastic pacifiers and disposable diapers with new Mercedes each year. But modern technology may be coming to the rescue. Consider “The Patch,” which blanks that part of your brain that remembers where the phone is, or chewing gum laced with gin, or the Roseanne approach where you call a recorded message that shouts “get off my back!” 500 times in your ear. If you’ve read this far, you know it’s not easy giving up grandkids. But quitting permanently is possible. I know. I’ve done it — hundreds of times. Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.
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