When I was a little guy (somewhere in the distant past) the first title I earned was “baby of the family”. The position had its perks…as I recall. Even though my parents took in several kids on a foster basis and raised two of the children as their own until adulthood, they were older than me and my position as “baby of the family” was secure.
When chores were handed out, mine were lighter. When responsibilities were relegated, mine were almost nonexistent. When it came to bath time, I had to go first because I had to go to bed first. I hated that back then but I’m thinking it’s a benefit now. If you were to ask my siblings why Eric was treated differently they would say, “…because he’s the baby of the family”.
I lost that title when I was 10 years old. My Mom brought home a little baby from the hospital. I can remember feeling sad that I wasn’t going to be the “baby of the family” anymore. That’s when I became “The Middle Child”! I’m not too sure how well I did there.
As time marched on, I can remember the great feeling of pride I would get when someone would refer to me as “young man” or “young adult”. I know I would stand a little taller with both hands on my hips (an almost Superman pose…but no cape) when I would hear these terms. Yet, whispering the word “teenager” would make me feel like I was wearing something from the barn lot on the bottom of my shoe.
I progressed from there. When I started dating, to the girls’ family, I was “the boyfriend”. That title made me feel dirtier than “teenager”. Now, as a father looking back, it is suppose to give that feeling, and I intend to use the term that way myself!
When I got married, I became “Mister Hambrock”. I wasn’t ready for that term and I still shy away from it. To use a phrase from a movie, Mister Hambrock “… is my father.”
Shortly after the wedding (9 months to be exact) I became “Dad”. That is my favorite title…most of the time…when things are going good. I mean I love being “Dad” when my boys are scoring touchdowns and my girls are handing out kisses. But, when there’s trouble in the house, “Dad” is not the title you want to have.
So….my oldest son calls a couple of months ago to inform me that I am going to be a “Grandpa”.
“Grandpa”…I struggle just typing the word. I can’t fathom that I am old enough to be a “Grandpa”. I told my wife that I don’t have enough white hair to be a “Grandpa”. She laughed.
I’m too young to be “Grandpa”. I still see myself as a mature 21 year old. I don’t know how to do “Grandpa”. I don’t like Cardigan sweaters and I loathe plaid, polyester pants! I do hobble a little, but I still have all my own teeth! So, you see, I can’t seem to embrace the title “Grandpa”. I’m just not feeling it.
What I am thinking, is that when the time comes for it to matter maybe I’ll be ready. In the 4 to 5 years that it will take for this little person to grow and form bonds with a “Grandpa” and “Grandma” I will be able to embrace the concept behind the title. You know, 4 to five years is a long time. Who knows maybe the little one won’t like the title “Grandson” or “Granddaughter”. After all, it is just a title...its the relationship that matters.