“No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet.”
“One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandparent.” — Joy Hargrove
When my wife and I first became grandparents, I wrote a piece about becoming a member of the greatest club on the planet, the Grandparent Club. The word happy is insufficient to describe the feelings of elation we felt when we became grandparents to a beautiful bouncing baby boy named Ben. (I don’t know why they call new babies bouncing babies. Ben not only did not bounce, but also he hardly moved for the first few months). It is now nine months later, and Ben is a nonstop bouncer along with his parents, who, at times, are bouncing off the walls. One big happy bouncing family.
For me, this kid has been a mechayeh (delight). You might think you know the reasons that I am about to tell you, but you do not. Sure, having a new person to love is amazing. Sure, watching my son and daughter-in-law blossom is amazing. Sure, spending thousands of dollars on a person that will never know you spent thousands of dollars on them is amazing, although according to Maimonides, the Rambam, this is an extremely high form of giving.
But for me, that’s all a pittance compared to what I am about to tell you. The best of all — and I mean the absolute best — is knowing that this new family member is a much bigger slob than I am. I have always been a slob. But this kid takes the cake and then spits it back out all over the place. I am so grateful that God, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to take some of the heat off me.
The best of all is knowing that this new family member is a much bigger slob than I am.
My beautiful wife constantly complains that my hands are wet. After I wash them, I try to dry them, but water seems to stick to them no matter how much I towel them off. Not only are Ben’s hands always wet from nonstop sucking on them, but also he can practically put his whole hand down his throat. Also, his cute little face is always drenched. If you did not know better, you would think he just climbed out of a swimming pool. Then there is the perpetual thick drool that constantly hangs from his chin but does not seem to bother him. He is a drool machine. From a distance, if you stare at the drool, it looks eerily like razor sharp icicles that hang from underpasses on the East Coast during winter. He also acts as if this is 1509 and he is Henry VIII. If he does not like his food, he throws it on the floor, grunts and bangs on his highchair.
Then there is his gas problem. This kid releases more gas in one afternoon than the United States has produced since 2009. When he toots one out, he is never asked to say, “I’m sorry.” He is never asked to leave the room. In fact, quite the opposite. Everyone is incredibly happy to hear the foghorn. Some even clap. Me, on the other hand, if I should do such a thing, I am practically sent to The City of Refuge. I am not proud of it, but more than twice, I tossed blame his way for what I should have taken ownership of. I wonder if God considers that a lie. Write me and let me know if I need to make amends at www.markschiff.com.
When I ask the family why it is okay for him to do these things but not me, their stock answer is “He’s a baby and doesn’t know any better.” Yes, I do know better. Yes, I do act civilized (“act” being the operative word). But really civilized… come on. The Rabbis teach you that “who you are as a person is how you act when you are alone.” I know how I eat and what sounds come out of me when nobody else is around. Enough said. You get my drift.
But dear parents of beautiful bouncing Ben, you can hope, and you can pray, and we all know you will be the greatest, most loving parents possible. But this is a boulder that quite possibly cannot be stopped. Not so many years from now, some unsuspecting sweet woman will, God willing, marry Ben. And like every woman that marries every guy, at some point in the relationship there will come the day when she asks herself the question, “Who the heck raised this animal?”
Mark Schiff is a comedian, actor and writer.