Carnett: Opa rolls with the punches, to granddaughters' delight

July 08, 2013|By Jim Carnett

Granddaughters can be unnerving.

Eclipsing even the considerable skills honed by their mothers and grandmothers over the decades, granddaughters can cut their grandfathers down to size in a single unguarded moment.

The other day, for instance, my 7-year-old granddaughter, Eva, sat beside me on the couch scrutinizing the deep crevices of my ancient face. She was fascinated. Unexpectedly, she emitted a sharp little yelp.


"Opa!" she squealed, brimming with wonder. "Do you know that you have a hair growing on your nose?"

Not under my nose, mind you. Not in my nose. On my nose.

Oh, the humanity!

"Well, uh, yes, I guess I have known that for some time," I stammered as I faced my accuser. As a rule, I try not to look too closely at my visage. I subscribe to the axiom: What I don't know can't hurt me. It's my personal defense against nature's appalling inequities.

Eva couldn't take her beautiful hazel eyes off my nose. She was transfixed. Unfortunately, sitting next to us on the couch was Eva's oma, my wife, Hedy.

"Let me see," Hedy eagerly intruded, as she somewhat indelicately pulled my face toward hers. "Eva is right, dear," she confirmed after a brief inspection. "You have a hair growing on top of your nose."

Now, three of us — make that four or five when my readership becomes fully informed — know my dirty little secret.

As my wife examined my mid-face Scarlet Letter, she giggled and said, "How strange."

Hedy sprang to her feet and hustled to the bathroom. She returned with a pair of tweezers, and the situation was soon rectified. I need not describe her corrective in detail. Suffice it to say my proboscis no longer harbors an errant whisker.

I tell this story to illustrate the fact that we grandfathers willingly abide myriad humiliations for the express purpose of indulging our sweet granddaughters. We wouldn't permit similar indignities heaped on us by grandsons.

Grandfathers have special relationships with granddaughters. I should know; I have six between the ages of 2 and 12. I've always considered myself a soft touch for my three daughters. Now, with six granddaughters, I don't stand a chance.

For instance, I'm called "opa" because of my wife's Dutch/Indonesian heritage. Our daughters, as they grew up, called Hedy's father and mother opa and oma, respectively — Dutch endearments for "grandpa" and "grandma". Our daughter taught this to our first grandchild — a boy — in the cradle.

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