How This Grandfather Earned His Stripes

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BY IRA BLUMENTHAL

Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years . . . . ” When I look back at things my own father said, I realize I had no idea how smart he was until I was a grown man. Certainly not a Mark Twain, but as every bit profound, my Dad said, “Your children represent your investment, and your grandchildren will represent the interest.” 

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Grandson, Jonathan

Now the proud grandfather of five grandchildren, I am cashing in on the “interest” from my children (the “investment”). I never thought anything could surpass the wonderful, incredible, magical moment of becoming a parent until I became a grandparent (“Pa Pa” to baby Camden, “Grandpa Iwa” to young Eli, etc.). Words can’t describe the sheer wonder, pride and euphoria. 

The day I found out why

Going back to my favorite Mark Twain quotation, “The most important two days in your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why . . . . ” I found out one of the reasons “why” I was born was to be a grandparent. I adore crawling around on the floor, tickling (and being tickled), playing goofy games and everything about being a grandparent. Yes, it’s exhausting but it’s exhilarating too.

Never one to do anything halfway, I love being an over-the-top grandparent. A sixty-eight year old can be silly with a grandchild and it’s perfectly okay. There’s actually something wonderful about not acting one’s age. In fact, when my children (you know, the parents of my beloved grandchildren) accuse me of being “immature,” I relish the notion, love the criticism, and accept it as a compliment. Who wants to be mature anyway? 

The day I earned my stripes

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Grandkids Sylvie & Eli

That brings me to the day I took my three-year-old grandson, Eli, to the Washington, DC National Zoo.  He loves tigers and so, we wore matching shirts. Then the magical moment occurred.  Eli turned to me and asked, “Grandpa Iwa (my name is “Ira”), can we paint our faces like tigers?” I thought about it for 12 seconds.  Why not?  The fact that in nearly seven decades of life I never had my face painted other than the eye black I used as an athlete made it even more appealing. The fact that my children often called me “immature” made getting my face painted even more an exciting proposition to me. The fact that this grandparent rarely says “no” to his grandchildren made me say “yes” to Eli. “Grrrrrrrrrreat!”I trilled, in my best Tony The Tiger accent. And so, to my mind, agreeing to let the face paint flow was this grandparent’s way of earning his stripes.

grandfatherIra Blumenthal is a business “Renaissance Man.” He is the founder and president of a consulting company that has counseled Coca-Cola for nearly twenty-five years. He is a best selling author, a much-in-demand keynote speaker, a former university professor and a serial entrepreneur. He was a college football and lacrosse coach, a radio talk show host and is a committed youth volunteer.  Married to the former Kim Burgess for 33 years, he has two daughters, three sons and five grandchildren: Levi, Camden, Sylvie, Eli and Jonathan.

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