Berger's Burg: Take great pride in becoming a grandparent later in life

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My grandfather’s picture sits on my desk while I do my homework. My father spent money on me, my grandfather spent time. As I struggle with trig and other responsibilities, I remember how my grandfather would take me for walks in the park, explain how a curveball was thrown, [and] encourage me to think well of myself. I really don’t want to wrestle with world history, the gross domestic product and Nathaniel Hawthorne. I just want to go to the park with you once again, Grandpa. — Melvin Glenn

Yes, dear readers, Grandparents Day arrives Sept. 13 and is the day when America celebrates grandparents. But a few fusspots ask, “Why the fuss?” Well, let’s analyze that question from the grandchild­ren’s point of view.

Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating grandparents for growing old.

A little boy was asked what was so great about his grandparents. “They stop my mother from killing me,” he replied. A little girl watched her grandfather remove his false teeth several times. She said, “Gramps, now take off your nose.” Both strong arguments for celebrating Grandparents Day.

What little children soon learn: The best place to be when you are sad is on grandpa’s lap.

Contrarily, a few grandparents say, “No big deal. By the time we can afford to go out evenings, we have to baby-sit.” Many others are puzzled: How could their sons-in-law, who were not good enough to marry their daughters, become the fathers of the cutest and smartest grandchildren this side of Queens Boulevard?

Grandchild: “I’ll never forget sleeping at Grandma’s house and waking up to her smile. She kept her false teeth on the night stand.”

I am a grandfather myself, but many of my fellow grandparents will not talk to me. Is it because they will not accept the truth that my four grandchildren are simply the grandest? Whenever I am pressed on the issue, I present them with research data prepared by an unbiased, impeccable and objective source — that esteemed early childhood educator, Gloria.

Grandmothers are a special chapter in their grandchild­ren’s lives.

But I am still shaken at the thought that I, Alex, am a grandfather four times over. With a pat on the paw-paws of four infants, I was magically converted from a common, everyday father to a “nonno” (Italian), “abuelo” (Spanish), “zayde” (Jewish), “grand-pere” (French) and “gramps” (English).

“When I go to heaven, I want to see grandpa again. But I hope God took away his nose hair.”

But I quickly realized this designation was not the end of my life, nor was it the first sign of impending senility. Having these four guys around makes me feel like a kid again.

Everyone is as tall as his grandmother at 7 and as tall as his grandfather at 7 1/2.

Since the arrival of my grandchildren — Justin, Brendan, Aaron and, at long last a granddaughter, Keri — I have come to realize the responsibilities of a grandfather. Often I find myself shopping in department stores not for a new razor or men’s socks, but for toys. And I even completed a cram course learning to play the Wii and Monopoly and how not to get lost in a toyland section.

One grandpa’s to-do list: 1. Load up grandchildren with sugar. 2. Send them home.

I will now help other grandparents become great grandparents by following these simple directions:

• brush up on your storytelling prowess

• expect to play silly games with lots of hugging, kissing, tickling, making believe and giggling

• exercise to make your body child-proof

• prepare yourself for holding small hands real tight, making certain your hands are continually handy and arms are available to hug them when they are within arm’s length

• express joy watching reruns of “SpongeBob SquarePants” with them

When [proud grandparents] walk, they waddle a little bit, like friendly ducks in the rain. She holds the umbrella, twirling it, and he points at things with his cane. He laughs when she says something, offers his arm, as he leads her through the dripping weather. They like it out in the September storm, being cozy and old together. — Dorothy Aldis

At this auspicious occasion, allow Gloria and me to wish all grandparents a joyous, happy, comforting and proud Grandparents Day. And remember: Be good to your grandchildren. They may be the ones to choose your nursing home.

As we celebrate Grandparents Day, let’s also remember the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11, when 2,752 American lives were lost at the World Trade Center.

Contact Alex Berger at

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
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