211. “Talk to Grandpa”

It doesn’t seem fair. You make all kinds of adjustments to raise a child, and before you know it, the child becomes a separate person who doesn’t necessarily feel like showing everybody how well you’ve parented. You’ve seen some of the things your child can do, you’ve bragged about it, and now that there’s finally a possible audience, your child is feeling shy, stubborn, or something else that gets in the way of the opening performance. Were those hours in labor and in laundromats, supermarkets, etc. for this?
No. The purpose of all that work was to help your child grow, learn, adjust to life. It wasn’t done so that the child would show other people how good you are at parenting. Still, you’d think the little urchin would at least have the decency to say some of the newly learned words into the telephone. Just to prove that you didn’t make up the whole thing. “Come on, Honey, say ‘Grandpa’ into the telephone. Really, Dad, she can say it. Just a minute.” And you try with all your might to bring back that glorious moment when your child said, “Grandpa.” Or something that sounded like “Grandpa.”
But to some children, the phone may have nothing to do with Grandpa. It’s a funny-shaped thing that makes Grandpa-type noises if you hold it to your ear. If that’s Grandpa, he’s been transformed. His new shape is weird, and your child is not going to say anything to him. If Grandpa is able to change his shape that way, who knows what other powers he may have? And later, when the real Grandpa shows up, your child may still refuse to say anything. Sure, he’s back in human form, but he could change back into that funny-looking thing any time.
Besides, even if your child hasn’t been exposed to the phone-Grandpa, the last time your child saw Grandpa may have been four weeks ago. Or more. Grandpa may be a distant memory, but he may be acting as if he knows your child well. This may be the same child who said several words last week, or did a somersault, but do you really expect your child to parade these new skills in front of this relative stranger? Don’t hold your breath.
I hope I haven’t reinforced a stereotype. Some very young children seem to understand what a phone is, and some can remember significant people in their lives with no problem, even as time passes. But it’s best not to assume that they see things the way you do.
Children like to be appreciated for their various milestones, but they are pretty quick to figure out who is being appreciated. They don’t necessarily mind showing off; in another situation – maybe later – you may wish the child would stop it already. But they aren’t necessarily eager to show everyone what a good parent you are. People are going to have to take that on faith for a while.
“Oh, wait a minute, Dad. Did you hear that? Say it again, Dear. Say it again. Really, Dad, he/she said, ‘Grandpa.’ You heard it, didn’t you?”

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