Ross: The joyful responsibility of raising the next generation
Any of you who are grandfathers or grandmothers know how delightful it is to babysit a two- or three-year-old who is just learning about the world. Everything is new to them. The way they learn and imitate puts AI to shame.
But I have to say it gives me a kind of stage fright. I don’t want to make a mistake.
I’ve been in front of a lot of audiences, but when the audience is a grandchild – there is this sense that any of these moments could be the thing they remember about Grandpa.
And I know exactly why I feel this way – it’s because I have one of those memories about my grandpa.
Grandpa loved to clown around and make up stories about us kids and how he met grandma after being injured in World War I (apparently, she was the most beautiful nurse he ever saw – we never knew if any of it was true.)
… but the memory that sticks in my mind wasn’t a war story, it was a little trick he showed me. Grandpa Ross was an immigrant from Italy who could fix anything – used to fix radios for his boss.
And I remember him sitting in an armchair in our living room one afternoon, and he takes a small flashlight battery, a miniature light bulb, and a couple of wires, and he presses the wire to the battery and the bulb lights up.
And then he says you do it.
And just like that – all I wanted to do was play with electricity. He taught me how to solder, we built an intercom, and I learned how to send sound over a wire – and boom. Here I am.
Hence the stage fright when I play with the two-year-old. I worry that some little game, or some grandpa trick, could be the thing that determines her path forever!
Her favorite game right now is leading me out to the car, climbing on my lap, grabbing the steering wheel, and pretending we’re driving to Fred Meyer. I don’t think she’s ever actually been to Fred Meyer… but that’s where she wants to go. What does it mean? Will she be driving for Door Dash in 20 years? Managing a Fred Meyer? Designing cars? What seeds am I planting?
It’s a little scary. It’s an awesome responsibility!
So just to cover all the bases, I’ve also taught her that the first thing you do after the seat belt is turn on the radio and press the 97.3 button.
Just in case she needs a fallback career.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, I tried the light bulb trick with her… she didn’t care. She just took my finger and said “Papa Go Driving.” I’ll try again when she’s 3.
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