A preschooler who lives down the street was curious about grandparents. It occurred to me that, to a child, grandparents appear like an apparition with no explanation, no job description and few credentials. They just seem to go with the territory.
This, then, is for the little folks who wonder what a grandparent is.
A grandparent can always be counted on to buy all your cookies, flower seeds, all-purpose greeting cards, transparent tape, paring knives, peanut brittle and ten chances on a pony. (Also a box of taffy when they have dentures.)
A grandparent helps you with the dishes when it is your night.
A grandparent will sit through a Greek comedy for three hours to watch her grandson and wonder how Aristophanes has time to write plays when he is married to Jackie Onassis.
A grandparent is the only baby-sitter who doesn't charge more after midnight - or anything before midnight.
A grandparent arrives three hours early for your baptism, your graduation and your wedding because he or she wants a seat where he or she can see everything.
A grandparent pretends he doesn't know who you are on Halloween.
A grandparent loves you from when you're a bald baby to a bald father and all the hair in between.
A grandparent will put a sweater on you when she is cold, feed you when she is hungry and put you to bed when she is tired.
A grandparent will brag about you when you get a typing pin that eighty other girls got.
A grandparent will frame a picture of your hand that you traced and put it in her Mediterranean living room.
A grandparent will slip you money just before Mother's Day.
A grandparent will help you with your buttons, your zippers and your shoelaces and not be in any hurry for you to grow up.
When you're a baby, a grandparent will check to see if you are crying when you are sound asleep.
When a grandchild says, "Grandma, how come you didn't have any children?" a grandparent holds back the tears.
If I'd known grandchildren were going to be so much fun, I'd have had them first.