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Being 'Pa' is a very close second to being 'Daddy'
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

It was only a moment, but it was magic. The world’s most perfect grandchild looked at the screen and clearly said “Pa” and “Nana.”

My heart skipped a beat.

Walter, who will be two in May, has been babbling for months. He could say “Elmo” and Big Bird was just “Big.” His pronunciation of Mickey, as in Mouse, sounded more like “Minnie.”

He has said a version of our grandparent names, but never as clearly as the other evening.

The greatest job I have had is being Daddy. Being Pa is very close second. Both of my grandparents were dead by the time I was 8. I hope I get to see Walter grow up to be a fine young man.

We love breakfast time, when old Pa makes pancakes. Walter loves them. I hope by the time you are reading this, he has come to visit and helped Nana make cookies. He likes cookies because he likes Cookie Monster on Sesame Street.

Between Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Sesame Street we get songs and fun activities. He is a dancer. He doesn’t listen to music without putting a little move to it. The dance is a little bit of a shuffle and moving his hands. He has rhythm.

God gives the job of being parents to amateurs. People who are having their first child have a great deal of on-the-job training.

Grandparenting is a professional sport. You get to spoil them rotten and then send them back to their parents. Our living room has become a place with a collection of toys. We are really into puzzles right now and he is slowly mastering reassembling the pieces of his various puzzles.

My wife and I picked our grandparent monikers, Nana and Pa. We are fortunate that Walter has learned how to say them. A dear friend of ours, Carolyn Williams, who passed away a few years ago, had her name of choice morph into “Gaa-Goo.” She wore it like a merit badge.

“It sounds like something else,” she told me one time, rolling her eyes.

The Baby Boomer generation has largely avoided any use of the word “Grand,” as in Grandmother, Grandpa and the like.

The popular grandmother names appear to be Nan, Nana, or Nanny, which wordsmiths believe is influence by the Italian “nonna.”

Papa, Popa, PapPap and PopPop are grandfather favorites. I picked Pa, which I’m hoping will be pronounced “paw” the way Opie did for Andy.

With Walter, we sing lots, we’re reading more and we are trying to do things that will enhance that little mind.

Our current favorite is Elmo’s song. Elmo, if you don’t know, is the furry, red character from Sesame Street. His song is pretty basic, “La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la, Elmo’s Song.”

I’ve got that one down along with “Hot Diggity Dog” as sung by Mickey Mouse and friends.

It’s fun to watch Walter on the little screen where we video chat with him regularly. We start singing one of his favorites and his attention immediately turns to the song.

Old Pa has a book full of songs we haven’t even touched yet. Fasten your singing belts, there’s more to come.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on