The View From Here: The Best Role Of All
By Ken DeLaat
I missed Free Fishing Day.
It is, as I have opined endlessly, a personally much favored event in our area and if you have ever been to it you’re crystal clear on what we mean.
But this year for the first time in a decade or so…
I missed it.
Also missed the Hazardous Waste drop off and capturing the action as praiseworthy volunteers take on the tires and toxic trash that make their way through the Road Commission garage and gather it all for a transport away from our local environment.
Relay for Life? Run Forrest Run? Missed them both.
Managed to catch a little late action at the...
...District baseball and softball tournaments but not until the final innings of the final games.
I wasn’t ill, had not been summoned to the White House for consultation on climate change nor had I been invited to deliver a commencement speech for the Acme School For Chronic Underachievers as in previous years (they like to use alumni).
What sentinel event, cataclysmic occurrence, life altering intervention could possibly cause me to be lured away from our area on one of the most active days of the early summer?
A dance recital.
Not just any dance recital but the Hearts in Motion annual soiree held at East Grand Rapids High School featuring a wide range of dancers of all ages and skill levels.
Among them was one Harper Danger DeLaat the youngest (2 ½)of the outstanding intelligent, good looking and downright likeable foursome of grandchildren LSC Lil and I share.
And she did not disappoint.
Dressed in her recital outfit Ms. Harper, a young lady I count among the very best of my friends, did everything one might expect from a small person with just 30 months of experience on this planet.
She looked around at the huge crowd and seemed to consider it a bit over the top then as she observed a member of her troupe crying she teared up for a bit of time out of empathy for her colleague perhaps. From there she discovered an untied shoe, pausing to point to it until someone came out to tie it, then did a bit of a shake that may or may not have been in the rehearsals. A couple of twists turns and fancy steps and it was over.
It was sublime.
I know, I know grandparents can get a bit much when it comes to describing the existential cuteness of their children’s children and I am certainly no exception to this. And this is perhaps less about the endearing charm of Ms. H. and more about how grandparents will set everything and anything aside to catch the couple minutes their progeny spends on stage during a lengthy recital.
Grandparenting, one discovers rather quickly, is a role to relish. It involves all of the best parts of parenting and nearly eliminates the less endearing aspects. There is a bit of magic to it. The potential to forge a relationship unlike any that came before.
Parenting comes with a substantial yoke of responsibility. One is tasked with the daunting duty of helping to mold the young person in their charge into a successful adult person. Parents don’t raise children, they raise adults when you stop and think about it. Despite the numerous joys and wonderful moments parenting provides, there exists the spectre of knowing one is ultimately required to also weigh in heavily during the not so pleasant moments. The role demands that at the core you must remain a parent. The responsible one who sets the limits and says no from time to time (more frequently as they age it seems).
Grandparenting? Not so much. It’s not free of responsibilities particularly when tasked with tending to the tot when parents are engaged elsewhere, but it’s a lot…. a whole lot…... less so than when in the role as primary caregiver. It allows for a unique bond of friendship. An alliance of sorts I guess.
Harper Danger and I are buddies in a way and when a buddy is going to be involved with something like their first dance recital, well, you drop everything planned and go. Not because you have to, but because you want to.
It’s a different set of priorities.
So when one is trying to finish off a bit of work, say, finishing this column, and their little buddy says “Papa, don’t work on your ‘puter, take me outside so we can play”
You log off and go.
And columns like this one arrive a few days later than planned.
“I am convinced there's a grandparent gene that disables the word "no.”-Lesley Stahl
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