Since the moment he presented himself in the breech position with a mop of red hair, my son Jed hasn’t stop surprising me. I could never have imagined a little boy who at age three would start living for Star Wars, nor did I foresee an adult who for his 36th birthday would request Darth Vader and His Son, a book where Pops is like any other, if you don’t count being the Dark Lord of the Sith in a galaxy far, far away. Then again, I couldn’t have imagined my child as a father. Can anyone?
One of grandparenthood’s sweetest perks is the chance to see your baby become a parent. My own mother, not given to gushing, remarked on how touched she was to watch me nurse, and I felt a similar pang when I first laid eyes on Jed cradling his newborn. Emil, my grandson, has now reached the ripe old age of seven months old, and each time I see him with his father, I’m impressed all over again by how Jed has so readily taken to this daddy business. Is it intuitive, or has my kid been inhaling parenting books?
That Jed has joined the I-love-my-son-so-much-I-might-burst club has tiled our relationship toward equality. Not that we’re peers. The advantage seems to be in his court, freeing my first-born to speak up when he feels I’ve erred as a grandmother. I’ve gotten called on the carpet twice.
My first demerit was for putting Emil in a playground’sbaby-swing–carefully, with the hands-on support of my cousin, I must add. When I sent Jed a video of the escapade (guess who loves her smartphone?) he chastised me, saying Emil was too young for these experienc. Also, he wanted to be the first one to swing him, which I suspect was the real point. Like he’s going to remember, I thought as I took my licks, just as I did when I riled Jed by emailing my other son and daughter-in-law a picture of Emil wearing an adorable new sweater that had been a gift from them. “We like to send the picture when someone gives Emil a present,” I was told in a scold.
I could have protested about being unfairly punished—I’d traveled an hour to babysit, after all. But I decided to laugh to myself. Jed’s the dad. He’s earned the right to make his rules, while mutual membership in the parenthood club hasn’t earned me the right to similar candor. It’s not my place to say why don’t you give the baby an occasional bottle of formula or let Emil get used to napping in his crib, not on your bed? Whether I agree with them or not, I’ve got to respect the decisions Jed and his wife are making on Emil’s behalf. I am getting such a kick out of grannyhood that I can live with this.
Having Jed become a father does makes me hope he has grown to understand how when I made decisions that affected him, I always had his best interests at heart. Not allowing him to watch TV on school nights or get his ear pierced in eighth grade and insisting that he to try to eat a fish that hadn’t been turned into a stick—I wasn’t being mean or arbitrary when I made these demands. I was just being a mom.
I also hope that now that Jed has a child of his own who we both love deeply, it understands that it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped having big dreams for my son and his future. Some aspects of a relationship never change.
Sally Koslow is the author of four novels and the non-fiction book, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest. She became a grandmother in June, 2012.