Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grandson Will Turns Two!

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on April 3, 2010.
My grandson (did I mention his name is William?) turns two today. So yes, I’m writing about him again. Deal with it.

His birthday falls one week after my own and one day before his mothers’, which effectively renders both those birthdays meaningless. So Happy Birthday also to my beautiful daughter-in-law, now forever burdened with being the mother of the world’s most perfect child.

There is nothing more boring than a grandparent bragging about their grandchild. The simplest accomplishments become landmark achievements. We forget our own kids did this stuff, and that we laughed mightily when our parents created a fuss over the most mundane events.

But of course, that was THEIR grandchild. When it is YOUR grandchild, the rules are completely different.

We have already had a party for Will, complete with all the toys his parents politely asked us not to get. He got clothes from Grandma, but she also helped me pick out the motorized toy forklift he loves, like the real one Grandpa lets him sit on at his work. Needless to stay, that noisy toy is living at Grandpa’s house.

Two is a wonderful though certainly challenging age. Will is much more verbal now, which is both good and bad. While hearing “I wuv you Poppa” just makes my day, the constant requests for “outside” and “go car” can sometimes be a bit much. And as you might imagine, when visiting Grandma and Grandpa he tends to get what he asks for.

We get the fun stuff, leaving the more serious and difficult tasks to his parents. That’s the true joy of grand-parenting. It is a loophole I complained about constantly when it came to my own kids and their grandparents, but one I am fully enjoying these days.

But a few weeks ago something happened to put things in perspective. A couple we know encountered a situation that made me stop and appreciate just how fortunate I am, and how quickly that can change in ways simply unthinkable.

These folks have grandchildren, and one of those precious youngsters recently had a sudden and serious medical situation requiring both risky surgery and ongoing difficult treatments. This is complicated by the fact the kids and their parents live a considerable distance away.

As our friends rushed to the side of their stricken grandchild (who right now is doing fine, thank goodness) I was overwhelmed with concern and worry for this small child I have never met. While any seriously sick kid is something that concerns me, knowing the child’s grandparents put the whole thing in a new and different light.

The thought of anything serious happening to my grandson is absolutely paralyzing. I know as he grows there will be the inevitable cuts and scrapes, broken bones, and other injuries that are just a part of growing up. But the idea any type of serious disease could be lurking out there waiting to attack this little person I adore is almost enough to make me look for one of those plastic bubbles you read about in the science fiction stories.

Of course, I can’t do that – and I really wouldn’t want to. I want my grandson to grow up, deal with the serious issues in his life, get over the first time someone breaks his heart, and enjoy the balance that makes life worth living.

I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy him. I am sure in the future I will have the pleasure of experiencing more grandchildren, and I will love them all just as much (even when their names aren’t William).

But I pray I have never have to face that moment of fear our friends have, the fear that must be all-consuming and life-altering. With great love comes great risk. I know I signed on for all of it, the good and the bad. It is worth it in the end, but forgive me for selfishly hoping I can skip the really hard parts.

Happy Birthday to my grandson (his name is William, in case you were wondering). I know you are the birthday boy here, but you are also one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and has a grandson named William – in case you hadn’t heard. He can be reached at aninsidelook@aol.com.

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