Monday, December 11, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Kids, grandparents grow together

After a recent visit to Albany, Ga., to celebrate my 90-year-old father's birthday, I happily returned to Tampa — to get some rest.

Although I am a late-night person, I simply could not repeatedly stay up beyond 2 a.m. consuming cocktails and talking endlessly into the night, solving all the issues of the world.

My 82-year-old mother pulled together a small birthday cookout with 50 guests and it was complete with the fanfare that I have known my whole life: White linens adorned rented circular tables and glassware, complemented the printed menus.

Each guest left with their own personal homemade pound cake, baked in a miniature cake pan.

The time with my parents also allows my two young sons to bond with their grandparents, but some moments reveal our different approaches to parenting.

I often watch my two young sons work with my father, a retired visual artist, in the yard of my childhood home and I cringe with trepidation because I am not sure who is actually in the most danger if some mishap were to occur.

On one visit, my sons excitedly showed us the masterpiece they created with my father, although their new clothes were covered in paint — the kind that doesn't wash out.

My father's sheepish grin could not conceal the fact that he realized he made a mistake, but the joy on all their faces was priceless and helped ease the pain of throwing away new clothes.

During that same visit, I looked out from the back porch in horror as my kids were taking turns swinging an ax toward their legs as they chopped wood.

Although my father is legally blind and no longer drives, he can still operate a jigsaw.

To my dismay on our most recent visit, my 8-year-old sawed wood while my 11-year-old stood in front of the saw without protective glasses.

I quickly proceeded to help supervise rather than stop the process, because it is important for parents to find a way to allow aging grandparents to continue contributing their expertise, their wisdom and their life experiences — in a safe way.

My father had them cut boards so they could literally burn their names into the wood with some type of hot iron gun that only he would have around the house.

My sons still have so much to learn and so much fun to be had with their grandparents. I will not try to slow my parents down because, frankly, I cannot.

But I hope to help them continue teaching my sons how to age youthfully.

Keith Berry is a married father of two sons who lives in the Westchase area.

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