Two ways be a pretty darn good grandfather…
Hello … Bonjour … Welcome … Bievenue…My name is Mark, and I am the 62-year-old, recently retired grandfather of Ava and Sophie, my two wonderful Montreal area elementary school aged granddaughters.
An intuitive insight and opening contribution that I’d like to make in response to my blog title statement is that most “pretty darn good” grandfathers can be described as men who are: 1) genuinely interested in the lives of their grandchildren and 2) are people who value being positively “relevant” in the opinions of their grandchildren and who engage their relationship mindfully aware that it will always reciprocally “matter“.
Being current in the lives of their grandchildren and having a reliable method for communicating appropriate feedback for the significant lifestyle news will help earn a grandfather their grandchild’s trust that their grandfather’s transparent interest and emotional investment is a real thing.
The ongoing relationship will grow in the secure and reliable experience that his grandchildren know that their grandfather knows that they know he cares…details to follow…
A Pa is born!
If you don’t mind, occasionally here on my website, you will notice that I’ve referred to myself as “Pa”, a name to which I’ve grown quite attached and proud since Ava first gave to me eight years ago. While she was just learning to speak and how to identify the familiar people and things of her immediate and extended environments, Ava latched onto the syllable “pa” as being the money part of the word grandpa when she was learning how to successfully connect with her grandfather. During her first year of attendance in the local home daycare, I had infrequent occasion to pick Ava up at the end of her day. The other daycare students would gather round to say goodbye to Ava and to her lift “Paul”. Grandpa had morphed into Paul and with affectionate correction, Paul became Pa. Less than two years later her sister Sophie arrived and then, step by step and word by word, I’m so proud to report that the two of them have been comfortably calling me their Pa ever since.
My Goodness Gracious!
During one of their early overnight visits to our house with their Pa and Nan, I found myself playfully exclaiming at some type of bedtime silliness: “My goodness, my gracious!… What in the world have you two gotten yourselves into?” After the protesting/denying/giggling had subsided and toddler decorum was reestablished, I then asked which one of my beautiful granddaughters wanted to be known as being their grandfather’s “Goodness”? Because she was a year and a half older than her sister and developmentally ready to lay confidant claim to the correct answer to any easy question that came her way, Ava proudly responded with an extra jump up in the center of the bed that “yes”, she wanted to be the sister known as her grandfather’s Goodness….And so from that moment , with a warm pre bedtime hug, Ava became and, always will be, her Pa’s Goodness…. Sophie, rather than sulkily behaving as if she had just somehow tragically lost out on a race that had begun before she got there, simply, and nonchalantly said “ok”. At the very end-of-the day and when the cuddle-kisses transition for bed-time energy was expended and in ways that she continues to charmingly display, Sophie seemed genuinely pleased and proud to be reminded that she had become and would forever be her Pa’s Gracious…
Ava is her family’s athlete! Among the skills she has always displayed and appears to eagerly enjoy demonstrating, Ava can; run, jump, climb, ride her bike, her skateboard, fall-down and get up again, swim, dive and pitch and catch everything! During the summer, Ava plays soccer on her neighborhood mixed team, swims, and dives at her community swimming club and during this current school term has participated in skiing classes and joined (and says she “loves”) taking weekly lessons on how to play basketball!
Although everyone in the family is genuinely happy to know that Ava seems to derive so much pleasure in all the physical aspects of her athletic pursuits, she can also be observed (and is so reported) to be easy to teach/coach and direct and she has a good relationship with her peers. Of course, once you start asking around, Ava’s father Ben and her maternal grandmother, Nanna, will both also claim that she was just like they were at her age; and if you were at all interested (and they could find it), they could show you their pictures/trophies/medals attesting to their successes as evidence confirming them being trees that Ava had so obviously not fallen far away from.
Sophie loves to sing and dance. She is quite naturally gifted musically with perfect vocal pitch and a very pleasant tone. She also has an innate feel for rhythm that naturally serves her well when learning to sing new songs or when challenged by dance movement during her Saturday morning ballet lessons. Sophie also takes active takes interest in and has access to musical instruments that their father has brought home from his work for the family’s use. Sophie has already demonstrated a playful and comfortable interest in strumming her ukulele, tinkering on the family piano, or tapping away at the drum set in their basement. In the springtime, no extended visit with Sophie is likely to end without hearing or seeing a rehearsed version of her pre-St. Patrick’s day Ceilidh song or dance.
Music comes naturally to many members of Sophie’s immediate and extended family. Both of her parents and several of her maternal and paternal grandparents along with aunts, uncles and cousins take an active interest in her developing talent/skill and progress in the performing arts. I’m quite sure that I’ve already got one of Sophie’s autographs around the house here somewhere.
My original intention was to host a website about my experience as a grandfather that I would call Chez Pa. Grandfathering is an activity that I enjoy and is of obvious interest to me and represents and includes me in a specific demographic cohort whose membership I thought it might be fun to explore. Sharing details about the grandfathering experience that include interests/activities/opinions and colourful snippets of someone’s highs and lows may be of interest to many other grandfathers out there that I already know or could or could get know better via website membership.
My father Peter is Ava and Sophie’s great grandfather. Peter and his wife Beatrice (my mom) maintain an active and involved interest in the knowing about and contributing to the girl’s wellbeing. Bea and Pete have five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. I appreciate and love them both immeasurably.
Harold is Ava and Sophie’s paternal grandfather. Harold and his wife Helen also maintain an active, supportive interest in how their son and his family are doing in their busy lives and in how they can directly contribute to their wonderful granddaughter’s nurturing and wellbeing. If my count is correct, Harold and Helen have fourteen grandchildren all living in Montreal.
It seems as if I’ve come close to the end of my introductory musings on this my first blog post on my first website. I think that I’d like to close by providing you with a couple of context details that I think I’d be remis in not sharing at this early juncture of our website relationship…
Choosing the name Chez Pa for my website is a personal acknowledgment that while Mark Le Blanc is primarily an English-speaking native Quebec resident who, although proud of his Quebec heritage, continues to struggle with being fully competent with the French language. Having necessarily learned to efficiently compensate for weaknesses I have identified, as required, I am also aware that Google translate will modify any written text for the benefit of the text’s author and potential readership. Tech translation support will be deployed accordingly….
One of the other introductory insights I want to identify and highlight in response to the opening inquiry about “how to be a pretty darn good grandfather” is that grandfathers make it their explicit business to be of active/loving and pretty darn good fathers to the daughter or son who graced you with the filial relationships being identified in your grandparenting. The relationship I have and actively maintain with my daughter Gwendolyn has always been and will always be a primary and defining feature of my entire life…
When You Love Them To Bits
I have wanted to use the phrase “when you love them to bits” somewhere on this site ever since I first entertained the notion that creating one was doable and that the personal sentiments being expressed were real and had a chance to be of interest/affirmed and even reciprocated by those who were reading them or who were having them be read to. Please feel free to write with your feedback and provide any respectful commentary that communicates your experience as a grandfather.
Pa will simply trust that, to the best of their ongoing ability, his Goodness and his Gracious will always love him to bits too.