Guelph / Parenthood

My Son – The Future Grandpa

My son will make an excellent grandpa.

It recently occurred to me that by the time my boy is a grandfather, he will be well equipped to fabricate long winded stories about how things ‘used to be’. But the problem is he may not have to fabricate them.

On occasion, my own grandfather would embellish stories to me about “walking 10 miles to and from school every morning, uphill and barefoot of course, through the snowdrifts that were at least as high as the tops of the hydro poles”. This story would often be followed with “doing 8 hours of schoolwork by candlelight each night after chores because there was no such thing as electricity”. (It wasn’t until I was at least 9 years old before I dared to ask why they had hydro poles in his day with no electricity.) And yet I never grew tired of the stories about white bread costing 5 cents so his parents couldn’t afford to pack him a lunch, the horses (not tractors) ploughing the fields, and how hard work and family values were the only things that truly define a man.

It wasn’t until now that I realized how much truth could be in those stories for my 2 year old son.

With public school after public school converting to French immersion, my son will be walking more than a kilometre to get to school. Barefoot, probably not.Uphill, only one way, but he will surely recall differently. And the snow just might reach the pole-tops if the city decides to cut back winter services.

My son may tell the tales of the times that the school starved him all day by taking his lunch because of a chocolate pudding that his father had packed in his lunch pail. Apparently this chocolaty treat is one of many lunch snacks banned from many of our schools. After all, what a child eats should only be governed by the school not the parents. (Hopefully my little guy forgets the times I let him have some potato chips!)

With the ever increasing hydro costs on top of the smart meter prices, he might not be lying when he talks about doing his homework by candlelight. Although, with stores raising their prices to pay for their own hydro, I won’t be apt to spend $10 on a candle at the dollar store.

And let’s not forget how he will recall the times that he and his horse made ends meet by clearing snow from the neighbour’s sidewalks. (He will have a horse because we can’t afford to put gas in the snow blower. Even if we could afford a little bit of gas, we can’t afford to fix the flat tire. Tire disposal fees, which are added to new tire purchases, were just one of the few partners of the H.S.T. that quietly snuck in.)

He might dazzle his grandkids with the stories of the tractors that would work the farm fields helping provide food for the grocery stores that promptly overcharged our family. It was organic food of course. But that was long before tractors were banned for their exhaust emissions and before the fields were replaced with more French immersion schools.

He might also talk about the times when our family started growing our own vegetables to save costs. That was before the garden and yard were overtaken with insects and weeds. (Too bad his horse won’t eat thistles!) He will be thankful at least that we banned our unnecessary pesticides. Although, he’ll always wonder why golf course pesticides were not considered cosmetic.

I wonder if I will have enough stories to keep my own grandson entertained. I rode a bus to school carrying a lunch bag containing Oreo cookies and peanut butter sandwiches. I played baseball on fields that actually had grass without the pollinating weeds blowing around like snow squalls. Money was not disposable but there was always gas in the snow blower. And most of my homework was done in front of the television.

Yet when I look at my son now, a grandpa-in-training, I realize that he will have many tales to tell. I know he will fill his own grandpa’s shoes well. Sure, he may embellish a few details. That is what grandpa’s do. And with his grandson on his knee he had better remember to tell the most important story…

The story of how hard work and family values are the only things that truly define a man.


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