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10.20.2010

Blurring the line between Grampy and Dad

Today I had to come down hard on Tio.

I hate it when I have to be the bad guy with the kids. Not because I can’t face it or wish I could always be nice. I can handle being a tough parent when it’s called for. I raised two already and we’re a strong family. The hard part here is because I’m grampy not dad and should be the one who gives out all the candy and sends them home with a measure of good advice and an extra buck in their pocket.

Man, me and Tio go back as friends to the moment we clapped eyes on each other. He was so fresh out of the womb he was still warm! He’s lived here off and on his whole life. I sang him to sleep in the crib when he cried, we invented stories and magical adventures, I taught him to read at four and write at five. I gave him the first shove on his bike that sent him into the world on wheels and we’ve been constant best of friends. We go out together and have fun even if plans go wrong just because we’re together. He told me in the third grade that he knew the only reason he was doing well in school was because what I’d done for him. If one of us walks on water for the other I don’t know which because he’s as much an angel in my eyes as what I seem to him.

Now I have a new role: the hardass taskmaster that holds his toes to the fire when he screws up, the parent with demands and expectations. Bud abdicated that role long ago and his mom never exhibited an interest in it from the start. The thing is, he’ll never succeed without tough guidance as well as a gentle hand. So, in trying to get him to live up to promises and responsibilities he falls short of, I have to come down on him pretty hard. For a best friend grampy, that is.

No need to describe the issue or how we’re going to deal with it. It’s typical kid stuff. He’s a tweenie looking to find his own way. It’s only going to get harder as he asserts his adolescence. As a grampy, I knew he would drift away from me as childhood faded and his own life, friends, and loves became the foundation of his world. I’d always be part of his world, just not the center of it. That’s okay. I can accept that. But standing here on the precipice between his childhood and youth, I had imagined myself as the one he could turn to not the one shoving him off.

He’ll fly, I’ll make sure of that. I only hope that when all is said and done, he’ll want to come back.