June 18, 2019

Watching the Grandchildren- Amen

For those of us whom have not had the experience, watching the grandchildren is a flashback to all the times that you have forgotten about when raising your own children.  I found myself challenged by many things that I was not prepared for.  My four year old grandson announced to me that “he had to go to the bathroom.”  “Fine” I said.  “But Papa you have to go with me.”  “Do you need help?”  “I might,” was his response.  So we made the trip into the bathroom- and I was left to complete the cleanup portion of the operation. Easy enough- and a confidence builder. Check that one off as a success.

Now, the ten year old granddaughter had another problem.  She needed help in changing her earrings.  Now, she did not have the easy clip on earrings.  No she had to have pierced earrings.  My dexterity was not bad but, after having pierced my finger a few times with a small amount of blood dripping from my finger, I was able to complete the task.  The third granddaughter, not to be left out of the action, needed my assistance with her electronic game.  I was clearly out of my element with this task as I had no clue as to what the little black box was designed to accomplish.  I think she sensed this and moved on to another application without my help.  For this, I was eternally grateful, as I didn’t even understand the basic instructions.

Within an hour it was time for lunch.  How difficult would it be to feed three young children? Normally, it would be easy if all they wanted was normal kid’s food. I mean isn’t Mac and Cheese fairly straightforward?  Throw in a grilled cheese sandwich and maybe a hot dog and I am in my element.  But these kids are growing up in a world unfamiliar to me.  “Papa, is there any place near here where we can get Sushi or Thai food?”  “Is that the uncooked fish that is served in Japan,” I said?  “Oh yes,” they shouted, “and we can buy it all over New York City.”  “How about a pizza,” I quickly suggested?  “We only like the pizza that they serve at the Country Club” was their reply.  “Do you have the number of the Country Club and I will order it now and have it delivered” I said?  “Papa,” they laughed, “we have the number but it is in New Jersey.”  Well, we settled for Chinese food.  I let my older granddaughter order for all of us as my Chinese is a little rusty when it comes to some of these exotic dishes.  I never graduated much beyond Egg Foo Young and Chop Suey!

Now don’t just assume that you can jump in and help them with their homework especially when they are starting “Introduction to Spanish” or mathematical “grouping.”  I remember the term “borrowing” when doing subtraction.  Boy, was I out of my comfort zone with this new math.  “Papa,” they said, “you are no help to us if you have to read all the instructions!”

As the afternoon ended and my babysitting was coming to an end, I remembered the old saying that “youth is wasted on the young.”  Times have changed but we did have an afternoon of bonding that was worth every minute even if I never had Sushi.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

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Written by Donald Wittmer