She’s only about seven pounds and about 19 inches long, but she’s a pretty big deal.
Her name is Addison, and I’m told she’ll answer to “Addie.” She made her world premiere debut last Thursday. It was very exciting.
I haven’t gotten the opportunity to meet her yet, but I’m sure I will in the coming weeks. My wife — her gramma — spent a fair amount of time with her this weekend. She came home exhausted and a little sick, but she sported a sweet, shining smile the size of sunny Alabama, with more teeth.
Addie has doting parents and a big brother and big sister, lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, and a thundering herd of grandparents.
And way more hair than anyone expected.
Most of it’s on the back of her head, instead of on top. Maybe she’ll do commercials for baby shampoo.
The grandpa role is kind of new to me, but I’m figuring it out. My marriage to my wife is the second for both of us, and when it happened, we inherited each other’s kids. Both of us have two, and both were already adults when we were married. So technically, my kids are her stepkids and her kids are mine, but it’s never seemed like that, because neither of us had a direct part in raising the other’s kin when they were still children.
When the oldest grandchild was born, I wondered aloud about the title of my relationship with her. Was she my step-granddaughter, or what?
A friend of mine, who is a grandmother to many, admonished me for even thinking of that.
“There’s no such thing as a step-grandpa. You’re just Grandpa,” she told me. “Or Papa, or Paw-paw, or Opa, or Gramps, or Poppy, or G-pa, or whatever the kid wants to call you.”
She said that with stepchildren, you probably weren’t around when the child was a baby, so that’s why you’re a stepfather and not just Dad. But with grandkids, you’ve been there from the start. There’s no need for clarification, and any attempts to clarify by adding an extra syllable would just confuse the child — and it would probably confuse Grandpa, too.
That theory makes sense to me.
It can be argued that a child can have too many parents, too many guardians, each pulling them in different directions, attempting to love them from so many angles that it makes the child smothered and miserable, which in turn makes all the parents even more miserable. A child can sometimes lose his or her own identity in an attempt to be someone or something different to each parent.
But, I was told, it isn’t possible for a baby to have too many grandparents, and it isn’t possible for a grandparent to have too many grandbabies — or too many great-grandbabies. That’s a different connection and a different dynamic altogether.
And, folks, you don’t mess with the grandkids, because you’ll lose. I was here long before you were, and my grandkid is going to be here long after you’re gone. Mess with that equation and you’re going to be stuck in the middle of an ocean of perpetual sorrow, with sharks of misery circling and snarling.
Unlike a parent, a grandparent has nothing to lose and nothing better to do. Don’t think you’ll outlast us, because even if you do, you’ll turn around and find out that we’ve taught the kid everything we know. No one has the time or the willpower to contend with that.
And Addie has a whole lot of people who are proud to claim her as a grandkid, and a whole lot of people who love her.
We haven’t even met, and I’m already crazy about her.
So welcome to the world, Addison Gail.
For such a little thing, you’re a pretty big deal.