So many thoughts have been going through my head since I became a grandfather last Friday. The first one was – I'm too damn young to be a grandfather!!! Grandfathers are old and smelly (if they were anything like mine.) I'm young and vital!! Anyone who has read my novel WHAT IT WAS LIKE knows how completely hardwired I am into my youth. Then I remembered that I'm sixty-three, and the calendar doesn't lie as much as we might like it to. So maybe I have to accept – nay, embrace – my new position as "Gramps."
Yesterday, I actually held my grandson Calder Leigh Robinson in my arms, which is more than my father got to do with his grandson. Calder is very handsome, and he didn't cry. He squirmed a little, but he slept in my arms the whole time. It was a very, very nice feeling.
About the name. My son is a sculptor, and so was Alexander Calder. Get it? I guess it could have been 'Rodin Robinson' or 'Bernini Robinson' or 'Brancusi Robinson' or 'Giacometti Robinson.' I think Calder is perfect and easily nicknamed. An old friend of mine – a sculptor herself – nailed the perfect first joke: "Before you know it, he will be mobile."
And 'Leigh' is the middle name of Katrina, the mother, so there are pieces of both family names in the baby's name.
One good thing is that it is an unusual first name to go with the very usual last name. 'Robinson' is currently the 27th most popular surname in the U.S. It used to be even higher on the list. My identity has been stolen a bunch of times, much less the fact that there already was a writing "Peter Robinson" who beat me to my name. Hence, my pen name of "Peter Seth." (I'm not even talking about the journalist Peter Robinson, the speechwriter Peter Robinson, the cricketer Peter Robinson, the several musician Peter Robinsons, or the politician Peter Robinson.) I would be very surprised if my grandson meets another "Calder Robinson" in his lifetime. Which is a good thing.
Another nice fact is that my grandson shares a birthday with Frank Sinatra. Calder was born on what would have been Sinatra's 99th birthday. How cool. (Calder's father was born on Fred Astaire's birthday, so father and son share birthdays with two major paragons of Cool.) Sinatra was a complicated man, and I'd like Calder to be a little nicer than 'Frankie.' But I wouldn't mind if he had the artistry and talent of a Sinatra. I want him to be a Great Man and make his mark in this world -- if that's what he wants to do ....
Rodgers and Hammerstein and the great John Raitt said it best in CAROUSEL --
That's really a song for a father. I'm just a grandpa now; I'm back-up. My son is really on the front lines. I'm just around to help the parents and have fun. Of course, I hope to play a part in my grandson's life, but it's just a part. The parents are the main actors. Fortunately, both father and mother are warm, wonderful people who are ready to be great parents. I wish them all the luck in the world. Parenthood is a great, wild ride.
But I have already begun to do my bit towards enriching the future of Calder Leigh Robinson. I'm working on setting up a 529 account for Calder because when he is ready for college in 2032, college tuition will be two million dollars a year.
Welcome to the future, my grandson.