I grew up with my parent's fathers and a whole bunch of great grandfathers, and each one helped me become the person I am today. And now these dudes (plus my own father and father-in-law) are there for my children, doing the
things only the coolest grandpas do and, truly, it's something really special.
I recently talked to a whole bunch of moms about the ways their fathers
changed after they became grandpas and it got me thinking. It really does seem like something magical happens to men once they have grandkids. As my friend Jane put it, "I see a theme of serious dads becoming mushy grandpas," and it's true! Maybe it's because old dudes soften with age. Maybe it's because they weren't encouraged to show emotion back in the day, and now they see how stupid that notion was. Maybe it's because they don't have as much on their shoulders as they get older and can afford to take some time out to have fun. Maybe they're "cooler" with grandkids than they were with us because they can send our kids back to us and not deal with the consequences of spoiling them and letting them eat nothing but frosting for a weekend.
Whatever the reason,
grandpas can be pretty amazing, and the coolest among them will absolutely do the following: They Get Into Shenanigans
playing pranks or encouraging your child's wildest Lego plans ("Sure, we can probably build a castle that reaches the ceiling! I'll get the ladder!"), grandpas are really good at scheming with children and encouraging children to scheme. It's cute, even if moms and dads don't always appreciate it. But who better to learn from than grandpa, right? He'll ensure that shenanigans stay shenanigans and don't progress into tomfoolery. They Learn The Lingo
It's funny when they mess up the lingo, to be sure. For example, my Poppy somehow got it in his head that "Siri" is "Nelly" and regularly asks us to "Ask Nelly." Adorable, right? But when a grandpa really commits and can name all the Pokémon, or knows who all of Barbie's friends are, that's absolutely adorable and really, really cool.
They Show Their Grandkids All Their Tricks
My entire life, my granddaddy has done this trick where it looks like he's removing and then reattaching his own thumb. The dude really sells it. It's classic Granddaddy, sure, but it's also a classic grandpa move, right up there with stealing noses and taking pennies out of ears and shamelessly entertaining kids with card tricks. Just performing these magical illusions is pretty cool, yes, but eventually
teaching a kid how to do them is something that separates cool grandpas from very cool ones.
The day my granddaddy showed my son how to "remove his thumb" you'd think he'd been let into a
secret society of magicians. They Share Their Knowledge
It's not just parlor tricks. All grandpas have some distinguished, old dude knowledge. My dad, for example, is really into sports and has loved teaching my kids how to pitch a ball or catch a pass. My father-in-law is an entomologist, so any time we see a neat new bug my kids urge me to take a picture so we can "ask Papa." I'm sure all grandpas have their specialty set, from cars to trains to history to crafts. The cool ones will find their own interests to be a great bonding opportunity.
They Tell Stories With Voices
Any man can read a bedtime story, but it takes a Cool Grandpa (like my dad) to read a bedtime story complete with intense, individualized voices for every single character and tons of emotion breathed into every line.
They Host Amazing Sleepovers
Sleepovers at a cool grandpa's house are the stuff of legend. There are movies. There are blanket forts. There are board games. Those aforementioned awesome stories? Naturally. Is there junk food? There is
. You shan't find a vegetable within a 500 yard radius of the property line. only junk food They're Not Scared To Look Ridiculous
In general, men don't like appearing foolish. They can be quite self-conscious, bless their hearts. Cool grandpas? Cool grandpas DGAF. "What's that, sweetie? You want to practice ballet. Sure! Do have a tutu that will fit me?"
"Tea party? Of course!"
"Pretend to be your Pikachu! Well, OK. I mean... Pika! Pika!"
They Find The Slyest Loopholes
The coolest grandpas respect the boundaries laid down by parents. As a mom, I couldn't tell you a grandpa was cool if he had flagrant disregard for the rules, but I will admit that the coolest grandpas are going to test every possible loophole and boundary they possibly can.
"Explain to me how a potato chip isn't a vegetable. You can't because it is. I rest my case."
Honestly, it's their right and I get it.
They're The Candy Man
Growing up, my Grandpa would
never come to our house without some sort of sweet. Charms lollipops, Dove chocolates, Entenmann's doughnuts. This dude was not the warm cuddly type — he was 5'2" of pure, WWII-vet fury — but he was still a cool grandpa because he loved us and even if he couldn't always say it, he could make sure we knew how he felt with treats. They Give Just Enough Grumpy Old Man Energy To Really Make The Sweetness Pop
The coolest aspect of a cool grandpa is this dichotomy: an old crank who nevertheless can set that on the back burner for the grandchildren. Without the crank-factor, the coolness just doesn't stand out as much.