I’m sitting on the sofa tapping into my iPad. When my wife’s 5 year old grandson decides to sit next to me while playing a game on his own device. This isn’t something that happens very often. He got up from where he was originally sitting, crossed the room and sat right up against me.
Anyone who chooses to read my blog will pick up that the relationship I had with my Dad was far from ideal. What physical contact we had, had little to do with closeness and affection. Such sentiment with children wasn’t even thought about let alone viewed as necessary for a healthy sense of well being. So I grew up rather undernourished in respect of my emotionality.
When I met my wife, some 20 years ago now, she already had a grown up family consisting of 2 daughters and a son; all of them in their early 20’s. I figured at that time that I wouldn’t have to confront the possibility of children being around very much. Which was something of a relief to me; as I didn’t feel that I had the emotional wherewithal to relate in an appropriate way with small humans. The reader will no doubt have realised at this point, that the one thing I hadn’t factored into my thinking was the arrival of grandchildren.
I’ve never wanted children myself, so it’s been something of an adjustment for me getting used to the reality of them being around. Given that they do have proper grandparents and the family wanted to avoid confusion, I was asked if there was any particular way that I’d like to be addressed. I think the terms, Pappa and gramps were proffered as options but for some reason the word Grumpa popped into my head and the title has stuck.
Now, back to the 5 year old sat next to me. Both of us sat quietly tapping away for awhile, when suddenly I was aware that he was hugging my right arm and saying something I didn’t quite catch. When I asked him what he’d said he repeated, “I love you Grumpa!” I was completely gobsmacked. I’ve no idea where it came from or what went through his head at that point to trigger such an outburst of affection.
I don’t think my choice of the term Grumpa was without some justification. Although, I am always there to comfort them if they are distressed in anyway. I have occasionally spoken rather sharply to them, and I’ve always found it difficult when it comes to playing with them. They’ve tended to relate more to the other adults in their lives; and other children of course. I’ve tended to just hover around in the background most of the time. Feeling a little superfluous.
However, I guess I must have got some things right, to have suddenly and quite spontaneously earned such a sweet and genuine expression of love from a small boy.