No one ever told me how amazing being a grandparent would be. Actually, one person, my best friend, Sally, did exclaim to me when my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild, “You’re going to love it!” She had been a grand-parent three times over by then.
But loving it has turned out to be an understatement. I adore it. I cherish it. I treasure it. I am bonkers over it.
My grandson, Henry, is three years old now, and has eagerly taken on the responsibility of educating me about certain aspects of life — I see it as sort-of a return favor for the few things I’ve taught him over the past few years.
One thing he has taught me, in particular, is how one should enjoy a meal.
Rule # 1. The first thing you should do, once you have been served your food, is get up from your chair and run into the kitchen cupboard and look for dessert, such as what happened just last night.
“Henry, what are you looking for?” I called to him from one of the tiny chairs I was perched at at his pint-sized dining table.
“Just lookin’ for sumpin’,” he replied, and quickly returned with a box of Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patties.
“I’ll save these,” he announced, and placed them next to his plate at the table.
Rule # 2. Make interesting dinner conversation. “Logan says his friend is saxy,” Henry said as he surveyed his chicken nuggets.
“Saxy?” I repeated.
“Yeah,” he laughed.
“You mean ‘sassy’?” I asked?
“No, saaaaxy,” he said, spewing chewed chicken nuggets as he emphasized the word.
“Oh, you mean sexy?” I said, immediately wanting to cut my tongue out because now he was going to go home and tell his mom that he had learned a new word from grandma today, and that word was “sexy.”
“Yeah!” he nodded, smiling.
“What does that mean?” he inquired, just as I expected he would.
“Well,” I said, “it means ‘pretty’.”
“Oh,” he said. “You’re sexy!” he grinned at me. I suddenly had a flashback of the time I inadvertently let him watch a PG-13 movie when he was two and to my horror a group of adolescents in the movie went on a swearing spree. Later when I was putting Henry down for his nap he spilled his sippy cup and suddenly said, “S–t, I spilled my milk!”
“Papa, you’re sexy,” he turned and said to his grandpa and giggled.
“Eat your dinner.” I said.
Rule # 3. Crawl under the table frequently during your meal to retrieve dropped food that you have no intention of eating.
Rule # 4. Run into the kitchen to get a separate fork for each item on your plate.
Rule # 5. Share your food. Dip your chicken nuggets in ketchup and run across the room and shove them into grandpa’s mouth.
Rule # 6. If your dining table happens to be located next to a window with a view, stand up and smear your sticky hands all over the window and/or tap your fork repeatedly onto the glass and/or bend down and turn the window crank back and forth even though it’s winter and you know that the window is locked and will not open.
Rule # 6. At breakfast, try new things, like drinking your oatmeal with your orange juice straw, or stand a piece of honeydew melon on end because it looks like a hat, or sprinkle your cinnamon toast with raisins. Then put your oatmeal-dripping straw back into your juice and laugh.
Rule 7. Share your new food creations with others. Offer grandma a bite of cinnamon raisin oatmeal with some fruit bunnies stirred in. She will say, “Mmmmmm, that’s delicious!” even if it isn’t.
Rule # 8. Don’t forget to dramatically fall out of your chair at least once during your meal.
Rule # 9. Don’t rush your meal. Take a good hour to eat, even if it’s only several full bites of food.
Rule # 10. Learn the fine art of dessert negotiation by asking “How many more bites?” before you are allowed dessert. If you can’t possibly eat even one more green bean while a whole box of Peanut Butter Patties sits within a tiny arm’s reach, just sigh, tilt your head to one side, smile, and say, “I love you, grandma.”