It’s bad enough that Webster omits “parenting” in his dictionary . . . but disregarding “grandparenting” is somewhere between incompetent and inexcusable! Okay, okay, so it isn’t an official word. So it lacks sufficient roots in Anglo-Saxon linguistic lore to merit a position in the ranks of Webster’s major reference work. So who cares about all that stuffy pedigree through which terms must pass to earn recognition in the verbiage of our culture? I sure don’t . . . and neither do thousands of other conscientious folk who are doing the very thing Webster chooses to ignore.
Webster—the old codger—would’ve been a good stand-in for Scrooge. Or maybe he was like the late W. C. Fields and just didn’t like children. On the other hand, he probably played everything by the rulebook and didn’t let his emotions get in the way of his literary contribution.
Too bad. Guys like that may make great scholars, but little people who are looking for laps to sit on and hands to hold and somebody to sing with or help them learn how to skate don’t give a rip about advanced degrees earned at snooty schools or grammatical trivia. So what if the grey-haired gentleman or gracious lady splits an infinitive or leaves a preposition dangling? What’s really important is that the wee ones know that here’s somebody they can lean on, talk to, laugh with, learn from, walk beside, and, mainly, hug. And chances are good those same grown-ups won’t ask a lot of pin-you-to-the-wall questions, like “Did you make your bed?” or “Have you finished your homework,” or “Isn’t it your turn to do the dishes?”
Grandparents’ favourite gesture is open arms, and their favourite question is “What do you wanna do?” and their favourite words are “I love you, honey.” They don’t look for mistakes and failures; they forgive them. They don’t remember that you spent your last Pound foolishly; they forget it. And they don’t skip pages when they read to you . . . nor do they say “Hurry up” when you want to see how far you can make the rock skip across the lake. They’ll even stop and lick an ice lolly with you.
But best of all, when you want to talk, they want to listen. Long, loud lectures are out . . . so are comments like “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” and “That’s stupid!” It’s funny, but you somehow get the impression that things like money and possessions and clothes aren’t nearly as important as you. And getting somewhere on time isn’t half as significant as enjoying the trip.