It is funny how time changes the questions a son will ask a father.
Sure, some days they may be a bit more philosophical. Some days they seek wisdom that only a seasoned life can provide.
But some days, they just want to know, how much cake did grandpa give these kids.
“We have to keep a pretty close eye on him and grandma when the cake or the candy dish comes out,” Ryan Fike said of his father, Joe Fike. “They’ve figured out they can stuff these kids full of sugar and always send them home to wind down.
“He sure is a little more generous with those type of treats than I remember.”
Maybe being a grandpa changes a man’s perspective. Or, as Joe Fike suggests, maybe it is the younger generation that is seeing things differently.
“I think he’s the one who really has the different perspective now,” said Joe Fike, who is a grandpa to Ryan’s 2-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son. “When he does something to one of his kids that I used to do that he really disliked, I remind him of that. That is really neat. You see that what you did, they really did learn from it.”
That’s a Father’s Day gift being given throughout Lawrence today. This isn’t just a special day for fathers but also for fathers of fathers.
But for grandfathers there’s no need to give them a “special” tie (really, keep the ties) or some other token of your appreciation on this day. They see gifts in a different way.
On the street
Give me liberty or give me death.
“When I was a father, I was going to work,” said Bill Mayhew, grandpa to a 7-, a 4- and 1-year old. “I had a fairly long commute. I went to work before they got up. When I got home, we ate dinner and everybody went their own ways.
“When you have grandkids, you just have the opportunity to sit and watch them. That is really amazing.”
For Fike and Mayhew — both of whom live in Lawrence and just minutes away from their grandchildren — there’s no question about what’s most different between being a grandfather and a father.
“I’m more patient with my grandkids,” Mayhew said. “The middle one was giving me a hard time the other day. I asked her whether she thought I would give her a time-out. I told her I just might. But, of course, I didn’t.”
Fike said grandparenting just comes with a different formula, which makes the job all the more enjoyable.
“Being a father is a 24-hour-a-day job,” Fike said. “It is intense. But the intense part goes with the parents. The fun part goes with the grandparents. We’ve already had the conversation. Grandpa’s job is to take these kids and get them ice cream.”
Cake and ice cream. What are you thinking? These kids haven’t had dinner yet.
Actually, Ryan Fike doesn’t complain. Far from it. His children are at his folks’ home most every day.
“It is unexplainable how great it is,” Ryan Fike said. “Our grandparents always lived in western Kansas, and we saw them on holidays or once a month. But for my kids to not only see them on a daily basis, but really to have them help raise them, it’s invaluable.”
Fike says he gets a lot out of it too, especially every time he sees a look of realization on his son’s face.
“He always used to say to me, ‘You just wait until you become a parent,’” Ryan Fike said of his dad. “Now, I get it.”
Now, that’s a real gift. Happy Father’s Day, grandfathers. Have a piece of cake.
Or better yet, give a big piece away.