One year of grandparenthood couldn’t feel finer

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If you are wondering about that big, stupid grin plastered on my face, there’s a simple explanation.

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Opinion

If you are wondering about that big, stupid grin plastered on my face, there’s a simple explanation.

I literally cannot stop smiling because on Friday, my wife Diane and I celebrated a major milestone.

This has nothing to do with the fact that we are both now retired, which means we are legally entitled to sit on our front porch in rocking chairs and yell at neighbourhood kids to “GET OFF OUR LAWN!!!”

Supplied

Doug and his granddaughter, Ivy Ruth.

It has everything to do with the fact that as of Friday, we have been grandparents for exactly one year. It is difficult, using mere words, to explain how wonderful it feels being a grandparent, but I will give it the old college try: It feels really, really wonderful!

For the record, Diane and I never expected to become grandparents because our son Liam and his partner Ava had never shown even the slightest sign of wanting to bring a little bundle of joy into this beleaguered world.

But our lives were turned upside down in the best way possible at 9:24 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2021, which is when baby Ivy Ruth — all eight pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches of her — entered the world.

Since that moment, my wife and I have spent virtually every waking moment forcing friends, acquaintances and complete strangers to look at photos of, and listen to heart-tugging stories about, the Most Amazing Baby in the History of Babies.

To be brutally honest, for the first few months of her life Ivy, like most babies, bore a striking resemblance to the Michelin Man, the beloved pudgy mascot of the Michelin Tire Company that was designed to resemble a cheerful pile of tires.

She spent her first months on the planet wiggling on a mat on the floor like a fresh-caught pickerel, or loudly crying to indicate she was ready to be snuggled and fed yet again.

What with my baby-handling skills being extremely rusty, whenever Ivy was handed to me in those first months, I cuddled her in the same manner most people would cuddle an unexploded bomb.

And then she smiled at me. When your new granddaughter’s face splits into a massive grin and her eyes begin to sparkle because she recognizes her grandfather’s fuzzy mug beaming down at her, suddenly everything seems right with the world.

The thing I had forgotten about babies, however, is that it doesn’t take long before they transform from inert blobs that you have to lug around like footballs slathered in slippery oil into tiny self-propelled human beings who devote all their energy to racing around under their own steam while chattering non-stop in an incomprehensible language that only other babies can understand.

When the kids — by which I mean Liam and Ava — come over and release Ivy into our backyard, she stomps around like a tiny version of Godzilla terrorizing Tokyo in those old black-and-white movies.

I was mildly terrified holding Ivy when she was a newborn, but that doesn’t compare with the sheer panic I feel chasing her around our backyard, which I now realize is festooned with potential hazards, including tree stumps, garden gnomes, anthills and window wells deep enough to swallow an entire free-range baby.

“Ha ha ha!” my son will chirp in amusement as I pursue my granddaughter like a dog chasing a cheeky squirrel. “The baby runs twice as fast as dad does.”

And my granddaughter is not shy about translating her burgeoning emotions into words, as we learned when we took her to Canadian Tire to buy a baby bike seat and a baby bike helmet for her first birthday.

At the store, she insisted on toddling along the aisles while holding our hands in a vise-like grip, all the while greeting everyone and everything she encountered.

“Hi!” Ivy roared at other shoppers. “Hi!” she chirped to the store’s employees. She offered the same joyous greeting to inanimate objects, including stuffed toys, barbecues, power tools, furniture, and cars in the parking lot.

Not that I want to brag, but her extensive toddler vocabulary includes other important words, such as “Da,” which is used to describe both her dad and the family’s dog, Finn, who is now forced to spend the bulk of his canine day trying to elude a toddler that is determined to wrap her sticky little arms around his neck.

As I write these words, it is two days before Ivy’s birthday, and my wife and I are planning on heading out to the store to buy the loudest child’s musical instrument that we can find. We see this as payback for the many years our son spent learning to play the bagpipes in our basement.

But what I really want to tell you is that every morning since Ivy was born, we new grandparents have rolled out of bed feeling an overwhelming sense of joy knowing that we have a healthy and happy granddaughter storming around the planet.

In the years to come, she is going to spread happiness wherever she goes, especially when she learns to play that (bad word) toddler-sized trombone I’ve got my eye on.

dougspeirs65@gmail.com

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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