The Grandparent Show!
By Khalil Amani
What kind of grandparents did you have? My grandparents (on my mother’s side) were old (as grandparents were back in those days). Their house smelled of old people—moth balls, Ben Gay, hot Florida humidity and other old people smells. We kids never really liked going to spend the weekend with our grandparents because my granddad was basically bedridden. He couldn’t do anything with us, save tell us old people stories. I mostly remember having to help him cook his breakfast, which consisted of fried eggs, grits, toast and this super thick-ass bacon that looked like if came off the back of a rhinoceros.
As a 7-8 year old kid, I thought grangpop was 150 years old, but he was just a mere 65 years old when he died. Believe it or not, my grandaddy, A.D. Caesar was the inventor of the (or a) weaving machine! His prototype weaving machine for putting hair in women’s heads sat mysteriously in a corner of his house.
My grandmother was heavy in the church where she played the organ and sang those old Negro spirituals. When she wasn’t in church she ran her own beauty salon and actually owned a “School of Beauty”—a cosmetology school where young black women learned to do hair. Both of my grandparents were basically uninvolved in our lives and I don’t believe they even knew our names.
As for my other grandparents, my father’s mama & daddy—I met my grandmother when I was 12 and there was no connection or affection there either. When we first saw her we wondered who was this “Indian lady” sitting on the couch. She wasn’t a black grandmama! She was like an old-ass Pocahontas—very, very light skinned with high cheekbones with silver hair that flowed down her back to her waist. “WOW!” we thought. That’s our daddy’s mama—our grandmother? Daddy had never shown us a picture of his mother, so we were blown away when we visited the backcountry of Virginia where she lived. As for my granddaddy, he had long been dead. Didn’t know shit about him then, but now I know he was your classic “Poppa was a rolling stone.” Isaiah Clark. That Negro had 13 children by three women and was a mean drunkard and a woman beater. (That explains my daddy’s temper and why he used to beat my mama! Another noted flaw that I told myself I’d never stoop to—and I haven’t!)
So then I grew up and had kids (as did three of my other siblings) and made our daddy a grandfather. (My mom died when I was 19—before I had kids.) What kind of grandparent did I expect my dad to be? Not a very good one. He was not affectionate towards us, so why would I expect him to be affectionate towards my children, but you know what? Age & mortality have a way of making old people realize that they need to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives. And so, when my dad visited me and my family in San Diego I was pleasantly surprised to see him interacting with my children—hugging them—asking them about their lives—something I have no memories of him doing to me! I ain’t got nann picture of me & daddy together! Not a single one, yet I have pictures of my daddy hugging my kids! Tha fuck?
I took mental notes on all of this parenting/grand-parenting stuff, because I knew that I had to do better as a parent and a grandparent—and I did! Don't get it twisted! I didn't grow old and then start being all touch-feelly-hands-on! My chirr'ren know about affection! I was their teddybear, always hugging & kissing & playing with my own children. I was ever-present in their lives and activities, so it's no new thingy to be even more lovey-dovey with the grandsters.
That’s my history—and now I’m a grandparent myself. I'm sure some of you have some wonderful grandparents. Please feel free to leave a comment and shout them out. (And tell me how you like being a grandparent as well.)
Being a grandparent is super-easy—so long as you don’t let your children dictate the terms of grand-parenting. Some grown children will drop those little rugrats off on you and get ghost! Fuck around and you’ll end up raising your grandchildren as your children if you’re not careful. Or they’ll have you doing babysitting duty every weekend so they can run the streets. It’ll be like starting all over again. These are the grandparent years—a time to travel, pursue hobbies and have fun and be a little selfish about life. Today’s grandparents are younger! We still wanna party and even have sex! (Don’t be grossed out! How do you think you got here?) A grandparent like me whose still an active hip-hop head, writing for mainstream hip-hop sites like allhiphop.com...
and writing for DJ Kay Slay’s #1 urban model magazine, Straight Stuntin Magazine. I’m a friggin’ granddaddy, but not your average granddaddy! LOL! How many grandparents do you know that would take their grandchild to a Lil Wayne concert? I did! Do ya think I'm getting cool points for that? Hell yeah, I am! LOL!
As my grandchildren get older I will teach them some great truths and let them read my books.
I have eight (8) grandchildren and I think I’m doing something right, because they love spending weekends with me and my wife; that is, those grands that live in our city. I have a newborn grandson (Adam) in Miami who doesn’t know me yet. He was only months old when I held him. Hopefully, he will one day know his grandparents and be excited about us. I have another granddaughter (Kamora) in Atlanta who knows me—who I try to visit, but distance is always a mutha—trying to keep yourself fresh in their young minds. We make sure to send Christmas & birthday presents so that she’ll know we’re thinking about her. I have another grandson (Makhi) in Miami as well who’s about 7. We call him “Pooka.” He knows his grandparents, but we’re dealing with my silly daughter who just doesn’t wanna act right; not allowing the child to contact us on some fuckery that I care not even discuss. Oh well…
(Scooter-riding with the grands...Lt to rt Ariyha, Jamar and Javeion in front)
Grand-parenting is fun, I tell ya! I love taking the grands to the park, riding bikes with them, skating, swimming, going out to eat, walking in the mall, riding on my scooter, etc.
My grandchildren are my world! Kemale, Khaim, Ariyha, Kamora, Jamar, Javeion, Makhi, and Adam (and my honorary granddaughter who's really my grand niece, Celia. She calls me "Kuncle," short for uncle Khalil. lol.) Through them and my children, I live forever! I hope they make many more grandchildren.
(My granddaughter in Atlanta, Kamora @ Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles)
The grandparent game is simple. Spend time with the yoots (youths)! Some of you will be like my pop, who was unavailable for his own kids, but became a lovey-dovey teddybear to his grandchildren. That’s okay though! Start now and make some memories! Don’t be that old rusty-butt fart who forgot what being young feels like. Take the grands to a movie. This one act of love will stay with them for a lifetime! Don’t cheat them and yourself out of cultivating a relationship because you’re lazy. I guarantee you’ll enjoy spending time with them! Now get up out of that rocking chair! The grandparent show is starring YOU! Ready, set, go!
(My youngest grandson, Adam in Miami)
(I really didn't stage this pic! They just said we're napping with granddaddy!)
(My grand niece who calls me "Kuncle")
(At movies with granddaughter Ariyha and grandson Khaim watching "Unfriended!"
(Acting goofy with grandsters)