Where’s a stork when you need one?
There’s nothing like that instant feeling of exhilaration when you learn you’re going to be a grandparent, whether it’s the first time or you’ve been down that road before. You start stocking up on baby supplies and infant toys. You select a snappy new nickname for yourself. You clear your calendar for weeks before and after the anticipated arrival date.
Then what? When you’ve still got eight months to go? You’re ready for the fun to begin now, but there’s no way to expedite this special delivery.
It’s like that edge-of-your-seat excitement you felt decades ago, waiting with your friends in a crowded auditorium for Neil Diamond or Santana or Peter, Paul and Mary to appear. Then somebody walked up on stage to announce that their bus broke down ten miles out of town. Major bummer. Unfortunately, clapping your hands and stomping your feet won’t hasten your grandchild’s arrival either.
While the recipient of your growing baby love is waiting in the wings, be sure you prepare yourself to take on the mantle of grampy- or grammyhood. Today’s grandparents are resetting the bar, and it’s up to you to keep the standards high.
First, here’s a simple formula to obtain your personal GFQ or Grandparent Fitness Quotient. Remember how much energy it took to be a parent? Multiply that amount by fifty, divide by the square root of your current age, then subtract the number of hours you put in as a couch potato every day. The answer is your GFQ, your ideal energy level for grandparenting. You need to be in tip-top shape to maintain it.
So if your fitness program went out with your discarded ThighMaster and Jane Fonda VHS workout tapes, better grab your yoga mat or start hitting the gym STAT. And keep the heating pad and Bengay handy.
How about your GHQ or Grandparent Hipness Quotient? You can review some of the pop culture biggies of your younger days on the left. Then check to be sure you know who or what’s similarly big today, as noted on the right.
|Hip/Happening Then||Hip/Happening Now|
|Cars with fins||Cars with Wi-Fi|
|Jackson 5||Maroon 5|
|Lily Tomlin||Tina Fey|
|Willie Mays||Derek Jeter|
|“Heeeere’s Johnny.”||Jay, Jimmy, Conan, Jimmy, Dave|
|Trashing Tiny Tim||Bashing the Kardashians|
Besides taking a wild stab at getting in shape and working to bring your hipness level up to speed, what else can you do to channel those achingly strong feelings of love that start taking hold of you months before your grandchild is born?
There’s always assembling a crib and staining a rocking chair for expectant grandpas, knitting booties and making a quilt for expectant grandmas. But grandparents have been doing those things since before they invented Pablum.
Why not start today acquiring every type of action figure you can get your hands on? Old or new. The more you find, the better. Because nothing is too good for your future grandson. By the time he’s old enough to have an interest in such things, you’ll have quite the collection, making him the envy of his friends. And making you one of his early heroes.
Or be the first in your crowd to learn baby sign language. Then you can teach it to the expectant parents, too. That’ll be a great way to communicate with Baby Taylor until she learns to talk. Your first assignment: how to sign “I love you.”
While you’re waiting around, jot down all the funny childhood stories you can remember about the father- or mother-to-be. Little Andrew will love hearing about the day his dad got in trouble for putting a worm in Aunt Julie’s lunchbox or how his mom had to sit on the naughty step because she said a bad word. (No need to divulge the word.)
This pre-baby period is also good for getting in touch with your inner child, the one who hasn’t quite adjusted to the notion that you’re really old enough to be a grandparent. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve still got a bit of that Why me? thing going. It’s natural. But, rest assured, you’ll forget all about it the minute you lay eyes on your grandchild.
In the meantime, brush up on your patty-cake and peekaboo, and that stork will be coming in for a landing before you know it.
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting