Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus
THE BLOG

All Hail, Prince Robert!

Every child should be so lucky. Every child deserves extravagant attention and a waterfall of unwavering love, someone who would do anything for you, and often did. It meant the world to me back then. Every boy should grow up feeling, at least now and then, just like a prince.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Look at my grandson. Just look at him. Is he the most beautiful grandson you ever saw? He's mine, you know. All mine. Yes, I'm his grandmother, his Nana, and he's my grandchild, my very first.

That's how it was with my Nana, the Nana who wheeled me around on Sheridan Avenue in the Bronx pretending to all who would listen to be my mother, the Nana who mattered most to me, the Nana who would do anything for me. That's what she would say about me because that's how she thought about me.

Look at my Robert. He's so smart. That's why he's bored in school and never does his homework and gets such poor grades. He's so clever. That's why he's always making wonderful observations in museums, like that time in the Guggenheim when he said some abstract painting would look the same upside-down.

She hovered over me, my guardian angel, my Greek chorus, my personal cheerleading squad, the original helicopter grandma. She pulled out all the stops, showered me with compliments and peptalks, assured me I could accomplish anything. I was the chosen one. I could walk on water or any other liquid state.

He's so sensitive, too sensitive. That's why he talks back to teachers and gets in trouble and everything bothers him and he feels hurt and angry half the time. Look at him and listen to him and marvel at him. Everything he does is right. Even everything he does wrong is right. Moses has nothing on him. All hail, Prince Robert!

And oh, how my Nana fed me. In my every visit to her apartment, she offered me food. Something. Anything. Homemade chopped liver. French toast. She gave me food to take home, too. Brisket, stuffed cabbage, tuna salad made with her own hands (complete with carrots and raisins), macaroons. Her drive to put food in my stomach was a force of nature, primal and thunderous. Sometimes I agreed to eat even without being hungry because it was easier than saying no. She never took no for an answer, least of all if offering me food.

I would do anything for him. I'll let him stay up later than his parents do and watch whatever he wants on TV. He'll stay here in Manhattan overnight, 14 miles from his suburban New Jersey hometown. I'll take him everywhere: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall (for movies yet!), the New York Historical Society (where he pored over newspapers from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars), a Third Avenue toy store called Rappaports, Schraft's (for ice cream sodas), Chock Full of Nuts (for hot dogs), and, yes, Barney's (where Barney himself once took care of us). I'll spoil him worse than rotten.

That's how it went with Gertrude Sheft, formerly Goldberg, born on Madison Street on the Lower East Side, sharing a bedroom with her three brothers, her father a humble tailor, only to graduate to the European splendor of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx (with a maid on hand, thank you very much), and thence to a corner apartment on 79th Street and Second Avenue, not to mention membership in the Park Avenue Synagogue, a country club up in Westchester, an arriviste to the nines, sounding like a grand dame though just a generation removed from the pogroms and the Cossacks, her husband Benjamin a respected CPA no less, driving the obligatory Cadillac -- and then, just to prove herself a champion among champions, just to drive home the point that no one should mess with her, my Nana lived to be 97 years old.

Every child should be so lucky. Every child deserves extravagant attention and a waterfall of unwavering love, someone who would do anything for you, and often did. It meant the world to me back then. Every boy should grow up feeling, at least now and then, just like a prince.

Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in Forest Hills, is author of the upcoming memoir "Playing Catch With Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes Of Age."