How Do I Teach ODP About His Grandpa Doug?
Writing "Grandpa" was interesting because I don't know what my dad would have wanted to be called. My paternal grandfather was Grandpa Strong, so I went with that, but maybe he would have wanted to be a Papa. Maybe Oliver would have come up with something else entirely. We can't and won't ever know.
When I let myself think about it, I get pretty sad that Oliver will never know my dad the way I dreamed he would. I feel gross in my gut about it--literal, physical pain. My heart feels heavier. As I've mentioned, even as a little girl, I thought about how excited I was to one day give my dad a grandson. And since he was such a phenomenal dad, I knew he'd be a killer grandpa: present, assured, thoughtful, patient, kind.
But Option A doesn't exist, so we have to do our damndest with Option B.
One of my former coworkers and I loved to share the...unique...wisdom, ramblings, and rants of the artist known as Kanye West. We would laugh about his tweets and interview quotes and because we were always kind of watching what he was putting out in the world, I became aware of a moment he had with his daughter, North, pretty early on (the aggressive CAPS are his): "NORI ASKED IF THE AIRPLANE COULD TAKE HER TO HEAVEN TO SEE YOU FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY, I LOVE YOU MOM."
Kanye's mom died before North was born, so Kimye's children won't know their grandmother the way I'm sure they would want them to. It's clear Kanye is teaching North about her paternal grandmother, sharing stories, and helping her understand, as much as her developmental age will allow, who her grandmother was.
It'll be an interesting exercise to teach Oliver about death and dying and about people he will never know, but who have surely shaped him in certain ways. The best I can do is to talk to him, to continue to bring my dad up in relevant conversations, to take him to visit places that mattered my dad, to eat ice cream on Grandpa Doug's birthday. I'm guessing I'll have to take it as it comes, but I'd love any tips you have if you've dealt with something similar.
How do you teach your kids about the people you wish they could know? Do you have rituals, traditions, special events? We're new at all of this, so I'd love all your ideas and stories.
Side note: I'm in the process of moving this blog to a significantly less janky platform and it's gonna look goooooooood. Thank you for your patience with its ugly design and weird formatting. Exciting things are coming!