Headless Frank...

advisor to the lovelorn, weary, confused, and the overly self-involved

headless frank

Dear Headless Frank:

I just became a grandparent for the first time. Any advice?
—Happy Gammy

Dear Gammy—
The important thing to remember is The Natural Order. That means that while parents have to stay within the bounds of reality, it is perfectly acceptable and probably ordained by God for grandparents to unabashedly believe—and proclaim—that their grandchild is the most wonderful, amazing, etc. child ever born in the history of the world.

As for advice: Don’t give any. This is not the 80’s or 90’s, okay? So you no longer know what you’re talking about. Anyway, even if you were a perfect parent yourself (take a moment to think about that), you’ve probably forgotten everything.

Try to develop an imaginary voice in your ear that, when you are tempted to offer advice, whispers, "stuff it," before you say anything. Because if you don’t, you’ll hear it from a real voice.

Realize the grandparent role is not to be the parent—in fact, drop the "parent" part of your new title and think of yourself as just grand, then try to be that. (You can also think of yourself as gammy, poppy, nee-naw, gaga, peeps…but that may be harder to define.)

Your role also is not to be the baby—so no wailing, flailing, pouting, spilling, obstinacy or playing in the dog’s water. You are never to pee in anyone’s lap.

But you can take on the role of maintaining calm. See, you know that baby’s in a totally primal state right now, while the parents’ state is more emotional (although they can go primal on you without warning). So when the baby cries, the parents may wring their hands and freak out about whether baby is hurting, wet, cold, frightened or got her head stuck between the teddy bear and the plush fish.

You, on the other hand, being objective (and hopefully not primal again yet), realize that crying is baby’s only form of communication so he cries to express everything he wishes to impart. You understand that when baby cries, it might be that he’s simply saying, "Wow, that was weird."

Of course, I speak with exactly no personal experience.
So I invite new parents and veteran grandparents to send their comments.

Signing off: Medulla oblongata.