Grandpa Love

imageI spent a good portion of the day today with Eldest Grandson, and it was a busy day. We started by shoveling some snow, which fairly quickly got too cold for him. He watched me from the picture window as I finished the shoveling (we live on a corner, so there’s a lot of walk to shovel) and trash-talked my efforts to nail him in the window with a snowball.

Then it was on to Lincoln Logs (a Solstice gift from me), where I introduced him to “the Land”, a big square of cardboard that all of his logs outside the box need to be on when he’s playing with them. After building a house I spelled his name with the logs and we worked on the letters – ask him what the pirate letter is, sometime – before deciding to put it away.

He sat at my desk and transferred two boxes of miniDV tapes to drawers for me, “one at a time!” as he put it, and when we found a box of slides from my projection design days we had fun looking at the tiny pictures. Then it was time for lunch, where he subscribed to the “Full-Belly” club (as opposed to the “Clean-Plate” club, which I feel is a contributing factor in the obesity problem in this country). We shared peanut-butter-chocolate cupcakes from Barriques for dessert (a side benefit of living with a barista) before giving Natasha a ride to work.

Oh, we also had time for one run through of “the Pirate King” tune with a reprise of “the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” Frankly, Harvey’s skill at creating his own songs puts Gilbert, Sullivan, or Veggie Tales to shame.

He likes my car, having christened it “Blue Number One” and calling out “Blue Number One, HO!” before we go on rides. We had some hot beverages at Barriques before coming back home to watch “Titan A.E.”, and then did some kung-fu. We also played a little of “the Consent Game”, which goes something like this:

“Hey, Harvey, can I tickle you?”
“OK!” (tickling commences, with much wiggling and giggling by Harvey)
“Now stop, Grandpa!”
“OK.” (Grandpa stops)
“Can I tickle you, Grandpa?”
“No, not right now, Harvey.”
“OK.” Time passes….”How about now, Grandpa?”
“Um…well, ok.” (tickling commences, with much wiggling and fake giggling by Grandpa, who isn’t actually ticklish)
“OK, Harvey, please stop tickling me now.”
“Ok, Grandpa.” (Harvey stops)

Seriously, watch parents and kids sometime and watch how often consent is ignored. And we wonder why it’s a problem when people get older?

But I digress. By then Mommy was about done with work, and we discussed whether we wanted to go get her in the car or make her stand out in the cold and take the bus. Harvey decided that yes, he wanted to go rescue her from the cold, and off we went, checking each other for hat, gloves, and zipped coats and boots.

He fell asleep in the car, so I listened to Sherry Turkle talk about the disconnection of people using technology (just in case you think I’ve forgotten about that whole thing).

The Formula

I started thinking this morning about what kind of Grandpa I’m trying to be. Here are the influences channeled, roughly estimated:

  • 20% Ira Johnson (Lazarus Long’s grandfather in Heinlein’s “Future History”)
  • 20% Maria Montessori (founder of the educational system where I worked for over a decade)
  • 30% Darryl Miller, my own grandfather (whose patience and knitting skills I aspire to)
  • 10% Kent Miller, my daughter’s grandfather (to blame for my sense of humor)
  • 10% the Genie from Disney’s Alladin (as played by Robin Williams)
  • 5% Grandma Taylor (a woman who’s dignity and presence has never faded from its first impression)
  • 5% Honey (as my own grandmother was known)

By no means should the percentages be taken as a reflection of the value I place on each source; rather, they are reflective of how much exposure I’ve had to the sources, as well as somewhat indicative of how much I feel I’ve succeeded in emulating their finer qualities. There are certainly other aspects as well, but I’m a dancer, not a mathematician, so I’m lucky that I got it to add up to 100% using factors of 5.

The thing about Grandpa Love, I’ve found, is that you have time. I have the time to reflect on how the games I play with him, the songs we sing, the tools I put in his hand can contribute to his development. I don’t remember ever having that time with my daughters – raising them was always a matter of running as fast as I could just to stay in the same place, to steal an Alice in Wonderland metaphor. The fact that they ended up as awesome as they did seems to be as much an accident as related to any skill on my part; certainly very little of it was planned.

But with Harvey and Victor, I can plant little seeds, from the over-arching “Consent Game” (my own little Good Man Project) to “the Land” and the fun I’ll have watching his face the first time he watches Firefly and hears Wash’s dinosaur narration. I have a longer view of his growth, while at the same time a tremendous awareness of just how fast that’s going to take place. He’s less than two years from kindergarten, and being sucked into the socialization training camp that our educational system has become. Victor has less than four years; it hardly seems enough time to prepare.

But that’s cool; I’ve got Grandpa Love, and no force in the ‘verse can stop me.

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