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I Want to be the Cool Grandparent: Here's My Strategy

By Edited Mar 29, 2014 1 4
BoomerBill and Grayson.
Credit: BoomerBill

BoomerBill and Grayon together.  Grayson is the one who doesn't look like a dork.

I'm a Grandfather Now

I Want to be the Cool One

I’m a 55 year old grandfather to a one year old toddler named Grayson.  I live on one side of town and his father’s parents live on the other side.  I hope that Grayson will end up having nothing but love and adoration for his other grandparents, yet I also hope that he views me as the cool one.  I want to be the grandparent he wants to be around because I understand him and I’m fun.  I don’t want to be the old curmudgeon he dreads spending time with and sees a visit as ranking up there with a visit to the dentist.

Here’s some of my thoughts to acquire cool status:

Don’t Get Stuck with an Old Sounding Name

Nothing says geezer like an oldster name such as Pappy or Gramps.  A name like Pappy reminds me of someone like Walter Brennan.  He was a fine TV and film actor and I’m sure an all around swell guy, but I don’t want to be him.  I’m either going to go with something generic like

Walter Brennan
Grandad, which is what I called my grandfather, or whatever pops out of Grayson’s mouth that I want to encourage.

Something the child says would be an organic grandparent name.  My Dad’s name was Bill and my toddler daughter heard my Mom call him by name, so my daughter starting referring to him as “Bull.”  That was probably the coolest grandfather name possible. For me, it brought up a tough guy image, sort of like a John Wayne type.  The funny thing was that my Dad was a very mild mannered person.  If he truly despised someone, he would say “I don’t really care for him.”  Dad was always a nice guy, so the name Bull was nothing short of awesome.

Stay Generally Aware of Music, Movies and Games

I will always try to stay on top of cultural trends and what is happening on a broad brush basis.  I read the newspaper (hard copy and online) and listen to the news on TV.  I catch some entertainment buzz as I channel surf.  I’ve always been aware of “who is who” in popular culture, like Brangelina and Beniffer.  What I won’t try to do is be one of the kids in terms of pretending to know and like all the music and movies Grayson will prefer once he gets a bit older.  Online games are probably a good middle ground.  We can play them together[1] and he will probably slaughter me.

I learned from my son that I don’t have the capacity to remain in the know like one of the

Grayson and BoomerBill
kids.  Their view of things changes so fast.  My son would talk about liking certain bands or types of music one month, and by the time I had heard some it and commented favorably about it the next month or so he already thought that band or that music was lame.  His tastes seemed to change each lunar cycle.  I realized there was no way I could keep up with that kind of rapid fire change.

My only saving grace with respect to music was that I always played the Classic Rock station on the radio in the car and my son grew to like it.  Turns out he became a Journey lover.  The best way to stay connected musically was to get him to like some piece of what I liked.  That way I didn’t have to pretend to be a kid and he didn’t have to listen to parent contrived drivel about music which was confusing to me.  My daughter used to listen to something they called Emo and I could never ever figure out what songs fit that category[2] when quizzed.  Trying to totally keep up is impossible.  A cool grandparent can’t be a “wanna be.”

I Want My Grandson See Me Do Active Things and Also Do Them with Him

I still have this image of my Dad playing in a middle school faculty basketball game.  As a five year old, I thought it was the greatest thing to see him play hoops.  I don’t even remember if he played well or not, but he was out there playing.

Earl Free
I want my grandson to have that sort of image of me.  I’m the grandparent that’s still out there playing.  Maybe not the best, but always out there engaging in physical activity.  I want him to see that so when I am older and slower he will remember like I did.  I'll try to convince my daughter to bring him to a 5k race or similar event.

I also want to do active things with Grayson.  We can go on hikes in the woods or shoot baskets.  I don’t want him to see visiting his grandfather solely as a sedentary activity.  While I loved my grandfather, a visit always required lots and lots of sitting.  Listening to the local police scanner was not a preferred activity for a young kid.  I thought it was better than watching the Today show on TV with him, but the scanner was only marginally better.

I Hope I Always Live Close to My Grandson

If I have any say in the matter, and I may not as time goes by, I’ll always live relatively close to where my grandson lives.  My parents lived about 20 minutes from my kids while they grew up.  They got to know my parents as real people instead of the old folks they only saw once or twice a year like I did with my grandparents.  Having a real relationship makes you cooler as a

Kayaking
grandparent.  You aren’t a stereotype, you’re someone well known to the child.

My Dad became sort of a partner in crime with my son.  One afternoon a week my parents would pick him up from kindergarten and keep him until bedtime.  They started taking him to Walmart to buy a toy and he began to expect the treat every time.  He started to ask to go to Walmart.  We told him he could no longer ask for this so he started saying when he saw them: “Are we going to follow the usual schedule?”  My Dad was amused and would always “follow the schedule.”  It became difficult to prohibit my son’s questions when I realized he would always figure out an alternative verbal request.  My Mom and Dad were cool grandparents.

I look forward to my grandparenting journey.  I hope it’s a cool one.

Be a Cool Grandparent

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Be a Really Cool Grandparent

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Comments

Mar 6, 2014 4:29am
LawPractManager
What a great article and an incredible journey you're on. I'm not a grandfather yet (my daughter is only 16), but my father has been an incredible influence in her life. It's actually brought me closer to my father and I now enjoy a great relationship with him (better later in life than never). Good luck!
Mar 6, 2014 7:36am
BoomerBill
Thanks, my grandson has been a lot of fun so far and there's a lot more to come!
Mar 7, 2014 2:31pm
RoseWrites
This comment has been deleted.
Mar 11, 2014 10:17pm
sharmapk752
Wow! Nice post.
I am a young guy & lives with my family(my mom, father & grand parents).
I enjoy a lot with my grand father.
Mar 12, 2014 5:37am
BoomerBill
Thanks!
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Bibliography

  1. Lisa Carpenter "7 Ways to Be a Cool Grandparent." nextavenue.org. 19/6/2013. 27/02/2014 <Web >
  2. thesoup "emo music." urbandictionary.com. 12/7/2005. 13/03/2014 <Web >

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