Father’s Day is for grandfathers, too
STATELINE – Randy Dupper didn’t expect to be a father years ago or much less a grandfather acting as a father. But there’s no turning back from providing love and support to 8-year-old Treasure.
After raising her with his wife, Barbara, all those years, Dupper, 49, “jumped at” the chance to have legal guardianship of the young girl about a year ago when her mother checked into a drug rehabilitation center in Fresno, they said. They added she was in prison before that.
The Duppers have loved Treasure from Day 1. They’ve considered adopting her. He wanted to have legal guardianship so that he could put Treasure on his health insurance. She has a form of epilepsy.
“As soon as she was born, I fell in love with her,” he said.
With the natural father out of the picture, the Duppers’ connection to the girl is through their son, Steve, who had a relationship with the mother. At this point, he’s shown no interest in guardianship in the girl, the Duppers said.
All complexities aside, Treasure soon grew from being on the shy side to a very gregarious youth. She and her “grandpa” have attended father-daughter dances. He taught her how to swing. She taught him how to rock to the Backstreet Boys.
His late-night shift as a dealer at Bill’s Casino allows him to take the time to walk her to and from school at Zephyr Cove Elementary.
“I’ll ask her, and she’ll (talk about) what happened at school,” he said, as she leaped on the sofa of their Kingsbury Grade home to give him a bear hug. The house is adorned with pictures of the family on the wall.
He changed her diapers when she was young. Now as an adolescent, he helps her with her homework, tucks her into bed and plays games with her. The duo demonstrated a tame version of rough-housing in the living room.
For Father’s Day last year, she bought him a clear glass globe declaring him “The World’s Best Dad.” This year’s present is hidden away until Sunday – the honorary day.
He apparently reciprocates.
“He buys me stuff,” Treasure said.
“And she keeps me young,” the soft-spoken Grandpa piped in. “She’s a handful at times, but it’s rewarding to see her do well.”
As she gets older, the talk of boys may be harder for Grandpa to hear.
“She won’t be dating until she’s 34,” he joked.
As in any family, there are challenges. And raising children as grandparents presents even greater considerations. Grandparents are known to spoil the youth. But as parents, other duties are expected of the Duppers.
“I would rather to have spoiled her as a grandpa rather than discipline her,” he said.
He says honing his experience as a father over the last eight years has been a learning experience. His wife supports his efforts.
“He’s a wonderful father,” she said.
That’s the goal, according to Tahoe Youth & Family Services, which goes yet another step further in combining role models with youth with its mentor program. The program links caring adults in the community with those willing to spend at least one hour a week with toddlers, adolescents and teenagers.
“They’re really tight. She probably has a better relationship with them than most of our kids,” said mentor coordinator Cheri Roberts, who met the Duppers through Tahoe Youth & Family’s mentoring program for children of prisoners.
Roberts said she’s noticed more kids being raised by grandparents through the program, illustrating the notion there are many forms of a family as Father’s Day approaches.