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Essay

Being a grandparent

By David Yenches

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Grandchildren are the best — all the fun and none of the responsibility.

Now that my wife and I have moved to Northern California to live with my son and his family, we've spent a lot of time with Anna, our 2-year-old granddaughter. She calls me Grandpa and my wife Granny.

Anna is a handful, to say the least, and we both try to play games with her and teach her useful language and physical skills. It's kind of a tag-team approach with her mother.

She turned 2 in early May soon after we arrived, and our grandson was born in early July. Now we are a family of six. Her mother was worried about her language development, so she called a local childhood specialist to check on her. But Anna passed all the tests with flying colors, and her English has exploded since then. She understands all that is said to her in English and Spanish, her mother's native tongue.

Even though Anna is only 2, she soaks up new words like a sponge, repeating what we say. "Uh-oh," she says when she spills food or something bad happens. She tells us "Night-night" and "Bye-bye," and more words every day. She knows her pleases and thank yous. "Sweetie" and "Mercy" come from my wife but I don't think she'll be using those at day care.

She likes children's songs, including Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Our son sings along in Japanese, as he learned it in Tokyo: Kira, kira hikaru. ... And it's easy to invent new songs for her.

California has a program called First 5, which is free for children up to age 5 from lower-income families like my son's. Our granddaughter goes there twice a week and we visit there sometimes. Most of the children and mothers are Hispanic — a sign of the great ethnic diversity of California.

First 5 started in 1988 and has been going strong ever since. Its goal is to improve early childhood options, including health and nutrition, early literacy and language development.

Sometimes, Anna's childlike pronunciation can get us into awkward situations. The other day, she and Granny went for a short stroll down the street, and the young one saw a neighbor washing his car. He was African-American, so Anna pointed and said, "Black!" since she is getting to know her colors. My wife quickly said, "Yes, his car is black." When they left, the little girl wanted to say, "Bye-bye neighbor!" but neighbor came out sounding like the N-word! My wife quickly corrected her: "Bye, neighbor!"

Is there sibling rivalry with her brother? Not yet, because he's too small. Give them another couple of years and they'll be fighting like brothers and sisters always do.

孫を持つこと

数ヵ月前に息子一家と同居を始めて以来、孫たちと過ごす時間が増えた筆者。親ほど責任がなく、子育ての楽しみを味わえる「おじいちゃん」としての生活を満喫している。

The Japan Times ST: September 8, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年11月24日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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