A Special Grandchild Delight: ‘Bark—Sausages!’

Earlier this year, I stifled sniffles when Nick, now 31, called to convey genuine concern and determined optimism about my recovery from a medical malady. Nick is my first grandchild.

Last year near Christmastime, I cried as I held Aurora, then about six months old. She is my first great-grandchild.

I often cry when I am delighted. It might be an ethnic thing. Then again, it might just be me. Either way, the sniffles beget smiles.

The in-between grandchildren increase the delights.

Peter, now 23, edified me when he asked his doddering grandfather to recommend good books to read when sleep would not come in the wee hours of the morning. And Jimmy, who just turned 24, took time from parenting his month-old daughter to voice-call on the old-fashioned ringy-dingy part of my smartphone.

I appreciate grandchildren’s’ new-fangled calls, text and email messages or face-to-face chats via Skype or Face Time. Some “old school” folks cling to the convention that gratitude ought to be conveyed via hand-written postal mail letters. I seem to have adapted.

I rarely send postal mail letters for personal purposes. I made an exception for grandson, Jack, who just completed an Army deployment to Germany and Poland. I remember my own delight as a young man away at extended absences from home when an envelope would arrive in my mailbox. I don’t know if today’s young adults attach as much connectedness to postal mail as I did. Jack, now back in the States, assures me he looked forward to getting actual letters, though I suspect it was the tactile reality, not the mutterings of a geezer, that was most appreciated.

I continue to reap delight from the adult and near-adult grandchildren.

I say this next thing with no complaint in mind: I also understand the virtual disappearance of teenage grandchildren. The teen years must be the most intensely self-absorbed period of our lives, what with hormones, high school, hormones, body parts sprouting all over the place, hormones, octave-changing voices and, of course, hormones.

“Grandpa or Grandma? Yeah, yeah, they are out there somewhere. I like them well enough, love them when packages or envelopes arrive at Christmastime or on birthdays, and give them enthusiastic hugs when we meet. But c’mon. I have music to listen to … and hormones to wrestle with.”

I get it. Been there, done that. They will soon enough mature to where they make out-of-the-blue voice phone calls or actually ask a grandparent’s advice about something.

Another grouping, the pre-teen years, have their own smile-provoking behaviors. An appropriate word is “bumptiousness.” Max, age 10, stops just short of being irritating with his out-there class clowning — but then again, I could give him back to his parents if he would ever stretch “bumptious” into “irritating.”

(I must digress. If I write about the antics of one grandchild, the rest of my extended family chuckles. But if I write about some grandchildren, just some, that evokes tight-lipped sufferance tinged with “My kids are neat, too.” So, to erase the tension, I also enjoy Audree, Sam, Marcus, Jason, Daniel, Anna, Andrew, Joey, Lily, Cody, Abby and Wyatt. Such a Christmas gift list we have.)

I omitted one granddaughter on purpose.

For sheer laugh-out-loud delight, you can’t beat age two. Emily is two these days.

She speaks in phrases. Some happen to be complete sentences. Others are breath-extended: “Mahtee … IlikeMahteeIgive … bit-kit to him?!?” Mahtee, aka Marty, is a visiting granddog.

Marty fetches thrown balls. Emily swings the ball overhead, then slams it overhand right at her feet, counting on the bounce to send Marty scrambling after it. Some kids giggle. Emily chortles.

Emily also has a sun shining brightly smile that makes the blond curls cascading along her forehead and cheeks even more golden. She can also produce thunderclouds memorable for their intensity, but we all did that, didn’t we?

She is easing out of the little fat legs stage, but still takes five fast-trot steps to every two for brother Cody, age 6, when we go for walks.

She plays intently with little things, be they the Legos at her home or the generations-old Matchbox cars we still house within our own toy box. She loves to hug the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, though she has no memory of the “Ghostbusters” movie that spawned the doll or the sweet grin turned evil leer that makes it something like clowns, cuddly and/or fearsome.

At the Farmers Inn menagerie, she imitates the cackle of chickens and the caws of the birds, but her sound for wolves, bears and even our dogs is, inexplicable to me, “Woof -sausages!” I think there was a parental game involved somehow.

So, yes, my descent into geezerdom is lightened and brightened by grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And with no disrespect to the others, my favorite age has to be between 18 months and three years.



Made you smile, didn’t it?

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Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: denny2319@windstream.net