I finally got around to doing that today. Barely three paragraphs long, the article, "Baby Steps" by Christine Ianzito (p. 14), discusses the growing nationwide demand for grandparenting classes targeting grandparents-to-be who want a refresher as well as an update on how to best care for newborns and their families.
As the grandmother of a brand-spanking new baby boy born just two weeks ago tonight, I couldn't help wondering what advice I might give if I were to teach such a class. My ruminations led me to five suggestions I would recommend to my counterparts for whom the grandparenting experience is pending.
- Snuggle. Get your hands on that baby as soon as you can, and hold him every chance you get. (Do, however, try to avoid snatching him out of the arms of the delivery nurse or you risk getting one of those Nurse Ratchet glares.) It won't take you long to remember the soft, warm feeling of his little head against your chest, where he can hear your heartbeat, or in the crook of your arm, where you can admire the utter perfection of his features while he sleeps.
- Pamper. Buy him stuff, with the limit being either the sky or the resources of your wallet. Buy stuff for his mama and daddy. The bank is paying you nothing for your money right now anyway. At this point, there isn't another investment that looks better than this one. Think of yourself as Daddy Warbucks. Orphan Annie has arrived at your mansion, and all extravagance is utterly justified.
- Obsess. Think about this baby during your every waking moment. Dream about him as you are drifting off to sleep. Have pictures at the ready in your billfold, your digital camera, and your cell phone. Insist that all your friends look at them. Stop strangers on the street and make them look, too. Point out Uncle Leon's cheekbones and Great-Grandpa's dimple. If your viewers' eyes glaze over after a while, view that as unfathomable awe.
- Invade. Go to the baby's house at every opportunity. Do not--I repeat do not--wait for an invitation. Right now, the new parents are preoccupied, sleep-deprived, and not in their right minds. They may not even realize they want you there, but you know better. However, if you consider invade too strong a word, try infiltrate. That is sneakier and more commensurate with grandparent personalities less aggressive than mine.
- Love. You will not have to work at this one. It will come naturally. Play it for all it's worth. Your grandchild will love you back, and you will experience nothing more special than that in this world.