Originally created 09/13/98

Parents can't trust own parents

I don't know who my grandfather was. I'm much more concerned to know what his grandson might be. -- Abe Lincoln

You can have your salesmen, your lawyers, your politicians and, of course, your presidents.

But for my money, the most inconsistent, hard-to-understand people I know are grandparents.

You can't trust them.

I say that not because today is Grandparents Day, but because the evidence indicates it's true.

Yes, folks, the people who raised you and me years ago by saying, "NO!" to our reasonable requests, are now the biggest pushovers in the world when it comes to our children.

Becoming a grandparent apparently changes a person. It forever alters the relationship between child and parent.

Something comes between both parties (HINT: It's delivered by the stork.)

Take my folks.

They were normal for years.

They were grandparents for years, too. But it was my sisters and brother who made them so, not me.

When I remedied that deficiency, however, things changed.

Now they call me all the time.

Most any night when the phone rings at home, I know it's a grandparent.

The conversation usually starts out under some false pretense before quickly getting around to the grandchild that really interests them.

I am asked to provide descriptions of his day, dietary likes and dislikes and achievements at school.

That's because he can do no wrong.

I could report that the little angel broke the century-old china plate they gave us for a wedding gift, and it doesn't faze them.

"You never used that old plate anyway," they say.

Maybe that's because they keep thinking of him as always looking like the cute little tyke in the photos we send them.

That's why they keep entering him in dubious photo "contests."

The skeptical son, I suggest such enterprises serve only to create mailing lists for child-care product companies.

In contrast, I point out, "You wouldn't have signed me up for first-grade if it hadn't been the law." And I notice how neither grandparent takes the opportunity to disagree.

Maybe they're too busy thinking of sweets.

I now have a youngster who expects Reese's Cups and Little Debbie oatmeal cookies any time of day.

Why? I wonder.

At his age, the only between-meal snack I was allowed was a celery stick (in season).

Not so for him.

For lunch, he thinks pizza and ice cream, Popsicles and soft drinks are just the thing.

When I answer his snack demands with, say a carrot, or perhaps a handful of raisins, he wrinkles his pug nose and shuffles back to the TV set to watch one of the dozens of expensive videos provided by Grandparents R Us.

I'm not sure where all this is leading. But one day, if I'm lucky, I'll have my turn at spoiling grandchildren. It should be easy.

I learned from the best.

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