Everywhere I go now, thanks to Facebook, as well as the small-town information network of Keene and, to a lesser extent, this column, people congratulate me.
"I hear you're a grandmother now!" they say, beaming. Everybody loves a grandparent.
Problems with parents are commonplace. Looking back, we see that the parent-child relationship has long been fraught with difficulty. It's sad but true. Just ask Absolom. Or Jocasta. Or King Lear. Or Prince Hamlet. Or your mom.
In stark contrast, the grandparent-grandchild relationship just hums with good vibrations. Who doesn't treasure memories of Grandma and Grandpa?
Grandparents and grandchildren are natural allies from the very start. Meanwhile, the harrowed, hard-working, earnest parents play monkey in the middle, doing the best they know how for their offspring, yet somehow left out of the granny-and-Gramps camaraderie. It is so unfair, but there you are. No wonder parents are often heard to complain that the grandparents are spoiling the children. They must be just eaten up with jealousy.
"Henry, where did you get that cap gun? Ella, why is your tongue that horrible blue color? Nothing in nature that even approaches that color. Did Daddy take you children over to your grandparents' house again?"
To be fair, most grands try to respect and live by their children's rules and to keep their advice to themselves, difficult as this can be, in order to be allowed access to the grandchildren.
Or at least so they tell me.
Some people may not feel ready to accept the label of grandmother or grandfather because the label carries the stigma of old age. They're not ready to let go of the hope that they might be considered hot by somebody.
I would be this old anyway, whether I was a grandmother or not.
I know a man who, upon turning 50, received his first issue of the AARP magazine in the mail and dropped it as if it contained anthrax or an incendiary device the instant he realized what it was. I felt the same way.
Other people hang on to the photograph on their driver's license, choosing not to have their picture retaken when they renew, because the old picture makes them look so much younger. I did this too, until I finally had to realize that everyone can see me; the little picture on my license wasn't fooling anybody.
Also, some grandparents are positively youthful themselves. Some are in their forties, or even in their thirties! Children having grandchildren.
When other grandparents congratulate me on my new status, their eyes light up. "Welcome to the club!" they say.
"Isn't it great?" one man asked. "No one ever told us how wonderful it feels to be a grandparent. I'm thinking, this is why we had children. I never knew."
Yes, I have met my grandbaby, Emma Rose. Her parents call her Peanut, but I, being elderly, am more traditional, and prefer to address her by her real name. Emma Rose is one month old. She is lovelier than I can hope to tell you. She smiled when we met. So did I.
Emma doesn't smile very often at this stage of her development, but she will soon. What's important here is that she clearly recognized me as her grandmother and recognized our relationship as one that will be important in her life, acknowledging this with that first smile.
No, Mr. Know-It-All, it was not inspired by an intestinal gas bubble. It was real.
Unfortunately for me and for her other grandparents, Emma and her parents live far away, out West, in California. I'm glad that the weather there is so beautiful, and that their neighborhood is landscaped with exotic plants we of the North Country see only in florist shops. I'm sorry though that I can't see them more often.
In California, I stayed in a hotel, which seemed luxurious. After partaking of a lavish breakfast buffet, I went outside and caught a San Leandro bus - either the clockwise bus, or the counter-clockwise bus - to the neighborhood where Emma and her parents live. The counter-clockwise bus takes a little longer, but it got me there.
The driver of the clockwise bus was nicer. I rode the counter-clockwise bus the first day, and the first thing the driver said was, "The fare is $1.05 for seniors." Just proffered the information on his own, making the assumption, without my even mentioning my age.
That's all right. I've joined the club.
Have a good week.