Six years ago, this very day, I became a grandfather for the first time. It has happen three more times since, but the one that broke the Father barrier, and tossed that Grand in front of it was Bentley Benjamin.
I wasn’t too sure about becoming a grandfather, actually, I am still not too sure about it all. It’s just weird for me. I was 49 years of age, and kind of always wanted to get that Grand label once I passed the 50 mark. But it doesn’t really work that way now, does it?
I mention this to my siblings, only to find out that, like being the baby of the family, I was the last in age to become a grandparent. They had all beat me long before they reached the 49 year mark. That made me feel a little better. It was still weird for me.
See, being a parent? I can do that. I’ve done it for 27 years now. Not an easy job, especially when I was a single parent raising two daughters. The frustrations, the pressures, the self-doubts were enormous. Those only became worse when I became a single parent.
But my two eldest survived to adulthood, and six years ago my eldest daughter Jenelle, became a parent herself. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best situation, she started off being a single parent. And, the poor kid, had to live at her parents house.
Which brings me to Bentley Benjamin. My grandson whom I was lucky enough to be around the first two years of his life. It was fun, crazy, and having two little children myself now, chaotic. As my daughter worked on establishing herself, she lived with us to help out with costs. Bentley learned to walk at my home, first spoke at my home, and terrorized my home with the help of his Aunt and Uncle.
With three adults, three children, a dog and a cat, life always had something mischievous planned. Yet the real fun started when Bentley moved out, and came to visit for the weekends so his mother could work.
Bentley is a precocious child. Although not the best speaker, he was adept at figuring things out. Like door locks.
While many children who awaken at night, and make their way to their parents bedroom, or in this case, grandparents bedroom. Bentley had other ideas. He wanted to explore the great outdoors. You know, at 3 am. Even in winter.
Probably because I raised his mother, and eldest aunt, I was pretty good at being a light sleeper. His first few attempts failed. With grandpa coming out to the living room to find him dressed in snow boots and a jacket.
“Hey Bentley, what are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m just going to go outside.” Bentley would respond in his four-year old voice.
“Bentley, it’s 3 am, it’s dark outside, and cold. You need to go back to bed.” I would say.
“I got a coat and boots on grandpa.” Bentley would point out. By god, the boy does plan.
But no, we went back to bed. Well at least he did. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. My grandson is a Night Walker. One of those children who think that going outside by themselves is perfectly fine. But no worries, he won’t get out on me.
I did say he was a precocious didn’t I? See, if you make too much noise at night? You wake up grandpa. And that will ruin all the fun. Of course the screen door makes a noise if you don’t close it by hand. It bangs. Been meaning to fix that, glad I procrastinate.
I found Bentley outside, wearing a coat and boots mind you, with the dog. The dog was very happy to be let out at 4 am. Grandpa was not happy to walk out in the snow barefoot to retrieve his wayward grandson.
The locks came, he outsmarted them. Obstacles came, he silently removed them. Chain Locks came, well on one door because I couldn’t get it to work on the other door. He used the other door.
An all out war of wits came. It was game on! Magnetic Alarm Buzzers! That we neglected to turn off and scared the living hell out of us when Bentley wasn’t here.
Of course when Bentley discovered this Magnetic Alarm Buzzer, it scared the living hell out of him. And the rest of the household at 2 am. Oh, they work by the way, very loud.
Yet it was the one door, that the Chain Lock wouldn’t work on, and yes, the Magnetic Alarm Buzzer also wouldn’t work, that became his objective. Moving the loveseat in front of it became our only option. Of course that meant I had to wake up at 5 am to move the loveseat for my wife so she could go to work on Saturday morning.
I did catch him trying to move it. When I did, he asked me for help. Touché grandson, touché.
Then it happened, he figured out how to move it enough. Probably because Grandpa became lazy and didn’t move it far enough over. Hey, the loveseat is heavy, and at 5 am? It is annoyingly heavy.
I heard it though, came out to see what was going on. Like a scene from a movie, I caught Bentley putting on a lightweight jacket (it was warm out, so his choice of jackets was appropriate) and standing there looking at me sheepishly. His shoes were on, he was dressed, out of his jammies, and just looked at me.
“Bentley? Where are you going?” I asked him.
“Take the dog out grandpa, Jess needs to go out to go potty.” Bentley replies logically.
Grandpa looks over at the couch on which the lazy lab now prefers over her own bed. The dog, Jess, is snoring. I look at Bentley and shake my head. With calm resignation, he takes the coat off, and follows me back to his bedroom.
That would be the last escape attempt Bentley would make. His mother’s job changed, she didn’t need us to watch him on the weekends. He comes back of course, is a wild child. Likes to figure things out. Mostly to his advantage.
And odd as it may seem, I miss those little games my grandson played on me. I marveled at his ability to problem solve, his little cons. The joy he had in trying to explore that great big world. I hope he never loses that joy. And I hope to have him over this summer.
He’s six now, getting big, full of attitude and defiance. He’s also a big brother of two. With a warm heart full of love and compassion for others. I would love to have him spend the night again. I miss the little monster, especially today of all days. He reminds me so much of his mother when she was his age. And that is the greatest part of being a grandfather. With the title, you see your family moving forward, carrying on, and knowing a new generation of you is here to make their mark on this Earth.
My grandchildren are always welcomed at my house, weird as it is to be a grandfather. And when Bentley comes over to stay the night the next time?
I will have that darn door secured.