I was born on July 31st, 1989 and was my parents’ first baby. In preparation for this monumental day, my mom had invested in every book ever written about parenthood. Her main discovery was the importance of a nutritious diet during childhood. For years she squeezed me fresh fruit juice each morning, loaded me with bananas, avocados and all those other “brain foods”, and steered me clear of anything containing refined sugar. I was truly a product of the ‘Infants and Toddlers’ section of Barnes and Nobles. However, on my second birthday, my helicopter parents went out on a limb and decided to let me try a piece of my own birthday bake. As they prepared for an allergic reaction, I inhaled every piece of chocolate cake I could get my hands on, without a hint of hesitation or an upset stomach. My parents were speechless and mortified, but my dad’s parents could only laugh. They had been secretly taking me to the ice cream store once a week for over a year. This was just a small “taste” of the ways in which my grandparents would spoil me for the rest of my life.
As the first child, I was undeniably the guinea pig of the family. While this term carries a negative connotation, my experience as the tester child could not have been more positive. This is because my grandparents were always around to clean up the mess.
At sixteen I failed my driving test before I left the DMV parking lot. My parents completely lost faith in my ability to drive and were enraged at the amount of money “wasted” on professional driving lessons. My grandad decided to take matters into his own hands. He took me driving the following Sunday and every Sunday after that for two months. Although he forced me to drive painfully slow, I improved significantly and gained confidence in my driving skills. Then he signed me up for a second test. My grandad picked me up from school, drove me to the Ventura DMV, and daringly allowed me to use his car to take the exam. This time around I left the parking lot, and most importantly left the DMV with a drivers license. My grandad was so proud of me, and took no credit for my achievement. However, I knew that he was the person who had given me confidence and taught me how to drive, after my parents and driving instructor failed miserably.
My grandparents are the only people I know who have a solution to all of my problems. They are also the only people I know who would frame my second grade drawings, send me a birthday card three weeks in advance, and watch me like a hawk when my parents left town. And they are most definitely the only people I know that send me care packages from Ireland, buy me an orange every week at the farmers market, and manage to brag about me to the receptionist at their doctor’s office. They have a role in my life no other person has come close to. They each have a unique wisdom and loving spirit I will never observe in another human being. There has not been a day since July 31st, 1989 that I have not felt their love, support, guidance, and prayers. I believe in the incomparability of grandparents.
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