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VOL. 128 | NO. 173 | Thursday, September 05, 2013

Vic Fleming

Grandparenting 101

By Vic Fleming

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Susan and I had a crash course in grandparent training a couple of weeks ago, keeping 6-month-old Anna Clary for a weekend. This was an independent-study course, and we gave ourselves passing marks. However, I’m always in search of materials to study for the next phase of grandparenthood.

Enter my old college chum Rollie, who emails me, as though he’s been reading my mind:

“Yesterday around 11:00, my two grandkids showed up to swim. I have experience in this and did not plan anything else the rest of the day. Days with these two (ages 8 and 9) end up being experiences.” The email, chronicling Rollie’s day-long adventure, is reproduced with his permission:

“Went swimming three times, including once in the pouring rain while explaining how to figure the distance-away/danger-quotient of lightning and thunder, which was first explained to me by a college classmate in 1969, using the speed of sound and the speed of light and doing a mega complex math problem. Total swimming time: about five hours.

“Went to a little Italian place that we like because they put extra bacon on Thomas’s pizza, which he likes, and they have sweet tea.

“Reactively and creatively decided to go bowling after supper. There›s something special about bowling on bumpers at age 62. I started with four straight strikes, leading Thomas to go ballistic: ‘You are so much better than me!’ I explain: ‘Of course I am. You’re eight, and I won the bowling championship at the Citadel Summer Sports Camp in 1964!’ I bowl the last 25 frames left handed. (Still crushed him!)

“Shot baskets on my outside court at 10 p.m. due to Thomas’s love of my halogen lights and the painted three-point line (possibly the best outdoor basketball court in America). I also have the breakaway rim necessary for eight-foot-height games, which I learned to play in college.

“Let them take a bath in our big bathtub in the master bedroom (my wife is off on a family trip), and they splash so much that the wallpaper gets soaked and one strip falls off the wall. (Another project to complete before The Super Model gets home on Sunday. Very hard being a Trophy Husband. [Sigh.])

“Watch the California/Connecticut Little League World Series game on ESPN and promise to let them stay up until the end. It goes nine innings. Lilly (age 9) asks in the sixth (about 10:15), ‘If you fall asleep, granddaddy, can we still eat anything and drink anything we want, including more ice cream?’ I say, ‘Of course.’ I am The Greatest Granddaddy in the World, according to these two. My other two grandchildren call me The Fun Granddaddy. I have very smart grandchildren.

“Collapse at 11 p.m., as California mercifully pulls out the game, and Lilly and Thomas go to bed.

“Gained 3.4 pounds (legitimate Honor System-verified weight gain for the last 24 hours) from Cheetos, ice cream, pizza, Snickers, some kind of Nerd rope with something stuck all over it, Smores, and six kinds of chips.

“It’s a tough job, but this is what I do.”

And he does it well. If other readers have similar, educational grandparenting stories, please let me hear from you.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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