There’s a bit of dialogue in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises that goes like this: “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” That pretty much describes how I’ve accumulated a bunch of grandchildren. Just last week, my daughter Annaoj and her husband, Hsoj had a baby boy, Rex. This brings the total to four grandkids; all in just a little over four years. This entourage developed as I said, gradually . . . and then suddenly.
Rex is a really cute baby but honestly, I was hoping for a girl. Had that happened, my grandchildren would have been two boys and two girls. That would have been perfect for the mixed doubles matches I envisioned for a decade or so from now. Possibly played on a lawn on the estate I see in my future. I lamented to whomever would listen to me that now I can’t figure out what kind of team I could field with a three boy, one girl configuration. My friend Retep#2 suggested that I might consider a bowling team.
This was a blow. The vision I had of a Kennedyesque family playing a genteel sport on my compound by the sea was replaced with a Bunkeresque image at some seedy lanes in Sunnyside, Queens. No touch football, no croquet, no badminton. Just bowling and flat screen TVs. What a let down.
Fortunately for him, Rex shares the same birth date as my mother. This ensures that I’ll remember his birthday. It’s almost impossible to remember the rest of them. I don’t know how other grandparents do it but wherever possible I use a mnemonic device as a way to keep track. For example, grandchild #1 was born on May 10th. This I associate with Woolworth’s five-and-dime stores (5/10), so that one I have covered. There are no other chain stores with which I can make an association for the birthdays of the other two so I may just pick the mid-point of each year to give them a gift, knowing I can’t be more than six months off.
As you can see, being a grandparent isn’t as uncomplicated as it looks. Oh I know, I make it look easy . . . but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong– I’m thrilled that I have a new grandson. It’s just that I feel I need a little break from all this grandfatherness. But then again, as I think about it, with a fifth one, I could field a co-ed basketball team. I’d bet anything that seaside estate could have room for a court.