No, not the Mamas and Papas singing group from the 1960s.
The people I’m talking about are grandparents. Nonna is the grandmother that lives at our house, and Poppa is trying to be the man Nonna thought she married decades ago. Nonnas and Poppas often approach grandparent duties differently, with varied viewpoints and attitudes.
After learning we would become grandparents, some folks congratulated us on the prospect. For what? Not eliminating your kids when they had repeatedly earned it? Nonna just smiled and said “thank you.”
Our children had decided that I would wake up in bed with a Grandmother. At that point, would my wife begin to make involuntary noises when she walked or slept? Would she begin to smell like Ben Gay or take her teeth out? Would her chemical system change causing Katrina sized hormonal storms? To counter, would I be required to have the entire homestead crop dusted with Prozac and PREMPRO? Scary.
The birth of a healthy grandchild is a miraculous occasion worthy of on-your-knees gratitude. On the other hand, there is the actual appearance of the newborn. Nonna uses words like “beautiful” and “perfect.” Are we looking at the same kid? Perhaps a young John Grisham captured it when he said that a newborn looked like his baseball glove. Throw in a tincture of lobster, and the picture is complete.
As the grandchild grows, Nonna is absolutely convinced that he or she is a genius. Worldwide, statistically, average human intelligence is defined by some IQ number. After that, about half the population’s intelligence is above that number and the other half below. But have you ever heard a Grandmother say: “my grandchild is below average?” Poppa basks in the glow of always hanging out with the top half of the planet.
Grandkids reintroduce things not encountered for nearly a generation. First, we get another chance with Santa Claus. We’ve missed him and welcome the opportunity. However, they also bring back some troublesome three word phrases.
“Some Assembly Required” makes one consider the upside of an open chest wound. The dreaded “Poppa, I’m FINISHED” requires faking a hearing loss, hiding somewhere, or simply holding out longer than Nonna while the youngster sits on the water closet.
A cool grandparent name, like Poppa, must be selected even before the grandchild’s birth, and then steadily drilled into the child’s head from day one. A famous coach, who now lives in Waco, was once advised "don’t let the grandkid pick your name." If a grandson publicly called him Goosie or Peepaw, it could and would destroy recruiting.
Finally, the little ones notice the differences in approach taken by Nonna and Poppa. They get it. They weigh evidence and decide. That point was driven home to Poppa in a recent conversation with his granddaughter.
“Poppa, are you and Nonna still married?”
“How long will you stay married?”
“Until one of us dies.”
She considered that, and then answered: “Probably you.”