Sunday, March 3, 2013 | 2 a.m.
I’ve always enjoyed getting haircuts — even if I only needed a little trim — because it was an opportunity for pleasant conversation with Tony.
The cost of sitting in Tony’s chair is much less than what I would pay to sit on a psychiatrist’s couch and he’s always provided an open ear and thoughtful feedback, even if I have strained his patience with my ramblings and occasional venting.
I mention all this because over the past few years I have had Tony at a great disadvantage. I’ve been able to brag about my grandchildren.
I don’t know if Tony could understand that the comfort you get from being a grandparent cannot be overstated. He didn’t have any grandkids.
So for six years Tony has politely yielded the floor to me, attentively listening to this doting grandfather talk about the many wonders of grandparenthood, complete with pictures, that only another grandparent could appreciate.
With every haircut, I would share with him the sheer joy and wonderment of watching our grandchildren grow up and develop their unique personalities. To Tony’s credit, he would smile in feigned agreement and understanding.
But a few months ago, Tony became a grandfather, and now he gets it! So we share not just anecdotes and scenes, but heartfelt stories about our children’s children. We can relate to one another as never before.
During this past week’s trim, Tony told me of his little guy’s utter joy at the sight of his doggie and equal amount of excitement at the sight and sound of his grandfather. Of course I shared a few stories of my own. That’s what grandparents do.
And that is when the lesson hit.
It is no secret that there is great consternation in this country about the future we are leaving to our kids and grandkids that is centered around our obvious inability to act as adults. At any level. There are many reasons for our political, social and business dysfunction but, in fairness, there always are. This time, though, it seems especially troublesome because the adults are acting like children and no one appears willing to punish them for their harmful misbehavior.
It was during our comparisons of our grandchildren that the answer to our prayers hit me between the eyes. We don’t have anything to worry about. All we need is time.
Tony was bragging, rightfully it seems, about how brilliant his 10-month-old grandson is. In turn, I did the same about my two — who are a good bit older than Tony’s and, therefore, that much further along in developing their unmistakable brilliance.
Understandably, my bragging was somewhat matter-of-fact, as if brilliance were a rightful given. Tony, the neophyte grandfather, is only now starting to recognize his grandchild’s obvious brainpower.
It dawned on both of us that the future is actually in better shape than we think, despite our own inability to shape it in a positive way.
That is because children these days seem far smarter than we were at the same age. They know more, they do more and they act more intelligently. A large part of that is because of what we have learned about nurturing. Nutrition is better and, yes, educational opportunities are more readily available.
For sure, there are plenty of young people who are missing out on these opportunities for knowledge. That is just one of my generation’s great failings. But society and life aren’t exactly fair and what is most important is that a substantial part of each generation be able to provide the leadership and creativity to help our country and the world move forward.
Granted, three young grandchildren out of the hundreds of millions in the world are too small a sample to reach conclusions. But if I count the number of grandparents in this country who are certain that their little ones are the smartest, most capable human beings on the planet, then it is easy to extrapolate that the newest generation of Americans will solve whatever problems we leave them with and meet any challenges that we are too lazy or too stupid to deal with ourselves.
Truth be told, there is great comfort in that kind of thinking because heaven knows, our own generation’s ability to fix our mess is not only lacking but we continue to want someone else to do the hard work for us. Shame on us.
But thank God for those little ones — all little ones — for they will inherit our world and be smart enough, creative enough and tough enough to fix the mess we are hellbent to leave them.
Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.