1. You can’t stop making wacky faces over the crib (even after your grandchild falls asleep).
2. Suddenly you associate “We Will Rock You” with a baby and a warm bottle.
3. You feel a little jealous when everybody says your grandchild looks like the other grandpa.
4. For the first time in years, you get the urge to whittle.
5. You regain your appreciation for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety.
6. You replace your old lawn furniture with a new swing set.
7. Before assembling a new toy, you actually read the directions.
8. You want to share your philosophy of life with a four-year-old.
9. You have the desire to play cops and robbers.
10. That “Small World” tune keeps going through your head.
But just because you’ve become a grandfather, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost that well-earned male mystique you first exhibited decades ago. Sort of a Duke of Earl/King of the Road/Pinball Wizard/Desperado kind of thing. And now you’ve added old-guy wisdom to the mix.
So even if the beard’s gone gray, something creaks every time you get up from the couch, and that extra room you need in your jeans these days is closer to a skosh and a half, you and your compadres are the grooviest grampies ever.
Grandchildren see it right away, which is why yours is the lap Hannah can’t wait to sit on and your stories are the ones that have Liz and Max hanging on every word. And if you can remove a quarter from their ears the way your grandfather used to do, your grandpa stock will soar higher than anything Wall Street has to offer.
Once you get used to the idea, being a grandfather seems as natural as constantly running and jumping did when you were a kid and hardly ever running and jumping does now.
Every moment you spend with a grandchild can be an amazing journey of rediscovery as you witness many of the day-to-day happenings you’d stopped noticing somewhere along the way. Follow a fuzzy caterpillar’s progress up the driveway with your granddaughter or share your grandson’s first wide-eyed look at falling snow, and you’ll wonder what else you’ve been missing.
It makes you recall some of the pleasures of your boyhood, such as Slinky, that genuine Davy Crockett imitation coonskin cap and your Dick Tracy two-way wrist radio. And remember those imaginative structures you used to build with that Erector Set?
What’s become of your old sci-fi toys, such as the plastic ray gun, the battery-operated robot or the secret decoder ring? You thought by now you’d be flying around in a personal spaceship like they did on The Jetsons. Instead, you’re stuck in the same old daily traffic jam right here on the ground.
With Dad’s push lawn mower or a paper route powered by your trusty Schwinn, you earned money to spend on baseball cards, comic books and new stamps for your collection. All together, these treasures might be worth a small fortune today, but chances are they disappeared along with your model airplanes and the chemistry set that made your parents really glad they invested in that extra-large fire extinguisher.
These days you’ve got a password just to open your list of passwords. But when you were a kid, you and the other boys only needed the one for gaining access into your treehouse club. The club had one hard-and-fast rule: No girls allowed.
Except, of course, Tommy’s mom, who made an occasional appearance to drop off tuna sandwiches, cookies and a thermos of lemonade. The food was great, but what stays in your memory is how her Evening in Paris perfume lingered on the air after she climbed back down the wooden slats.
If you wanted a little solitude, you could hole up in your room for hours captivated by The Hardy Boys, The Black Stallion, Swiss Family Robinson or The Call of the Wild. You imagined yourself to be quite the adventurer. Then you went to camp, heard your first ghost story and lay awake in the tent all night clutching your flashlight.
In your quest for TV heroes, those bland and often bumbling sitcom dads didn’t make the cut. Although you wouldn’t have minded trading places with Gilligan if it meant being marooned with either Ginger or Mary Ann.
Men of action like The Lone Ranger and Sky King were the ones you admired. You would’ve given anything to be as tough as Robert Stack on The Untouchables, smooth like James Garner on Maverick and as cool under fire as James Arness on Gunsmoke.
Your hero at the movies had all these traits and more. The star of Rio Bravo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and True Grit himself: Marion Morrison, AKA the more rugged-sounding John Wayne.
Today’s actors are inclined to use the names they were born with, even those less-than-rugged, often unpronounceable ones. So when you go to the movies with your grandkids, you’re rooting for the likes of Shia LaBeouf, Ashton Kutcher and Orlando Bloom. What would Marion think about that?
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting