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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Grandparenting
by Peary Perry

"The mothers of today have little radio transmitters to alert them in their bedrooms when the baby starts crying or gets fussy. My wife could hear our kids through steel. I bet I could have our kids locked up inside of a Wells Fargo vault and her sleeping 100 yards away and sheíd hear one of them if they burped funny."
Peary Perry
Someone once told me that the reason God doesnít give little babies to older folks is that weíd lay them down and forget where we left them.

Iím about to find out if this is true or not. Our oldest son and his wife are about to become parents for the first time. By the time this is printed I feel certain the little bundle from heaven will have arrived. The next thing to do after this momentous occasion is to figure out what we must do next.

It isnít that weíre strangers to being grandparents, we have a twelve year old and a God child of two; itís just that all of this seems to have changed over the years since we had babies in our house. Not that itís something to be afraid of, well, hold on, perhaps it is.

Our son and daughter in law spent last weekend practicing loading and unloading the car seat. We never had to do this; we just loaded them up and held them in our arms as we traveled on down the highway. When they got too big for that, we strapped them in with seatbelts and let it go at that. Now there are all kinds of rules about who can ride where and how. Apparently no one can ride in the front seat of my car until they are over twenty years of age. Iím not sure if this is a federal mandate or just something the family has decided. I canít find any sticker on my dash that tells me anything, but then again what do I know?

How do the parents of today get by driving anything smaller than a truck? Youíve got car seats, strollers, day beds, diaper bags, used diaper container, food containers, extra clothes, camera bags, a television and DVD player to load up, and thatís only if youíre going to the grocery store. Think what theyíll need if they come to visit us for a day or so.

When microwaves first came out we thought weíd died and gone to heaven. You could just stick that baby bottle in the thing and wait fifteen or twenty seconds (donít hold me to this, Iíve forgotten exactly how long it took) and then yanked the bottle out and there you were, happy camper, happy baby. No more sticking the bottle into that little ceramic pot that took forever to heat up. Now they donít even use glass bottles that look like bottles. They have bottles that are tilted or have little hand holes in them so snookums can hold their own. Our kids were tough, we made them hold their own without any hand holes until they started first grade. I think it was first grade, I might be wrong.

The mothers of today have little radio transmitters to alert them in their bedrooms when the baby starts crying or gets fussy. My wife could hear our kids through steel. I bet I could have our kids locked up inside of a Wells Fargo vault and her sleeping 100 yards away and sheíd hear one of them if they burped funny.

But all kidding aside, itís a great time to be alive and going into this stage of our lives. It brings new adventure. New vistas. New horizons. New financial requirements.

It also takes me to new and exciting places Iíve never been before, like Toys R Huge or something like this. I had my first dose of this adventure the other night, when we went to buy a birthday present for our two year old God child. I donít know what I was expecting, but chaos wasnít the word. Do you think all of those kids in those stores are on some sort of sugar high? I tried yelling that there was a giant kid eating alien monster waiting for them at the front door if they didnít wind down and get calm. It didnít faze a one of them. In fact I think it just incensed the crowd as a whole. I got the feeling that if I were to tell any of the three hundred or so two foot tall wild humans that the store was closing and they had to leave, they would have turned on me in a heartbeat and torn me from limb to limb. I think I know how missionaries felt when they were faced with pygmy cannibals.

Iíve faced a lot of danger in my life, but to tell the truth, this just scared the you know what out of me. I was in total shock and amazement to see mothers calmly walking around joking and talking as if nothing was wrong while I am trying to alert them to the fact that several of the smaller humanoids are attempting to pull over several of the shelving displays. This could spell danger for us all. My wife is totally oblivious to this potential disaster and is pushing her cart as if everything is perfectly normal. They must use some sort of calming gas in the air-conditioning system, either that or I am too hyper for it to have any real effect.

In my haste to escape I hurriedly agree to buy more than I had planned, but I think the added expense probably was worth it in terms of the possible dangers that I was facing.

Iíll keep you posted on further events as they happen.


© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

Letters From North America - April 8 , 2005 column
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