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Little ones could just call me ‘Grandpa’

Alan Liere Special to Voice

I recently returned from West Lafayette, Ind., where my son, Matthew, graduated from Purdue University with a 4.0 grade-point average and a degree in aeronautic engineering.

Thirty-five years ago, I graduated from Eastern Washington University with a g.p.a. about half that size and a degree in English.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t about jealousy. There is some resentment, however, over the fact he has made me a grandfather twice in the past three years.

Matt’s wife, Leahlyn, felt her biological clock was ticking, but I’d have thought they would have had a little more regard for my biological clock. I was just getting used to being a father.

My trip to Indiana made me very aware of how isolated I have become from my family.

While my granddaughter, Claire Marie, tolerated me at times, the 18-month-old boy, Walker Alan, fell all over himself trying to avoid me. It was only the second time I’d seen either of them since they were infants.

Matt says it’s because they don’t really know me, but I wonder if it’s more because they do and sense that I am not grandfather material. Perhaps it’s the fact I still wear jeans and T-shirts instead of gray button-down sweaters.

I never aspired to be a grandpa, you see. My lap isn’t nearly wide enough,

I can’t read “Danny and the Dinosaur” 20,000 times with animation, and pushing swings at the park seems like a waste of good sunshine.

I have a friend who said his greatest thrill in life is listening to his grandson say “Whee!” as he pushes him on a swing. I think I would much rather have my grandson offer to mow my lawn.

Matt says he thinks I’m more ready to be a grandpa than I think. He even asked me what I want the kids to call me.

“Call me? I asked.

“Yeah, what do you want your grandchildren to call you? Leahlyn was thinking maybe ‘Papa Alan’ would be sort of cute.”

I told him I wasn’t into “cute.” I like “Big Al – King of the Universe” much better. Or maybe “Most Exalted and Punctilious Nabob.” My next choice was just “Grandpa.”

I knew some very fine gentlemen who went by “Grandpa” – Matt’s, for example, and mine, too.

I told Matt that as long as I have no say in the designation, I think I’m at least entitled to some strong thoughts about being a grandparent.

I don’t, for example, think I should be expected to buy any toy made of plastic – especially blue or orange plastic. I don’t plan on investing my nest egg at a toy store.

I don’t think I should have to wear sweatshirts that say “World’s Greatest Grandpa.” I don’t think I should be expected to talk baby talk in the presence of other adults.

And I never, ever, want my grandchildren messing with my computer.

I told him I do think I should be allowed to keep the kids supplied with books, Lincoln Logs, squirmy things and kisses, and when they get older I’ll get them library cards and fishing poles and make sure they know how to use them.

When they get a lot older, I’ll give them a puppy – or at least some guppies. I’ll say “No” a lot, and if they misbehave, I’ll growl at them.

I’ll have no tolerance for tantrums.

“So, you don’t like ‘Papa Alan?’ ” Matt said.

“That is correct.”

“And there’ll always be some discipline mixed in with the books and the bugs and the puppies and the kisses?”

“That is also correct.”

“Dad,” Matt said, “that’s pretty much the way you raised me.”

Yes. And as I mentioned, I think my boy turned out pretty well. You can’t argue with success.

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