I’m sitting on the family room floor with my freshly formed first grandchild. I guess he is not all that freshly formed, he is officially five and a half months old. he is starting to engage in the five month old developmental rituals- sitting up like a wobbly Weeble toy; gumming everything he can shove in his mouth regardless of its taste, texture or size. He is smiling, even laughing a little. He is big enough to perch on a grandmother’s hip.
I’m surrounded by a panoply of play toys- a contraption allowing him to reach for linked rings in a multitude of colors; his Michelin tire man legs kick out a tune on the pretend piano at then end of his palette. There are no shortages of animals — a melon colored rubber monkey (great for chomping); an elephant shaped rattle; a stuffed Mickey Mouse, and a chewable dragon fly. Austin looks a little like Bam Bam of the Flintstones fame, raising and lowering his rattle above his head with caveman like strength.
I love my afternoons with Austin. I listened to an NPR interview recently with author, Jenifer Senior whose new book is entitled, All Joy and No Fun, the paradox of modern parenthood. Senior outlines a number of parental paradoxes- Parenting is All Joy and No Fun (thus the name of the book) and Children are Economically Worthless and Emotionally Priceless. Shockingly thoughtful statements about modern parenthood. These same paradoxes, however, don’t apply to grandparents. Grandchildren are simultaneously all fun and all joy. I’m having a ball with this baby. Even when he arches his back and pitches a wall eyed fit, I think it is funny. I look him square in the eye and say, “hey pal, I’m not intimidated by you one bit. I’ve experienced much worse than you are throwing at me.”. Such freedom! Such joy. Now back to my afternoon with Austin….