OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF
Grandchildren give people a second chance. As their children are growing up, too often, earning a living takes precedent over what is really important, enjoying them. As a stagehand I was on call 24/7. There would always be another event, another cycle for another son. Always a tomorrow. But tomorrow is like yesterday, only a spirit in the wind.
‘A shepherd! Wow! Now listen, you be sure and sing real loud, and I’ll be able to hear you when I’m working. And don’t get out of your costume until Mommy takes your picture. Okay?’
‘Playing Stillwater! Well, you guys came close last game. Maybe this time you’ll beat them. Mom is going to call me at work and tell me about the game. And she’s bringing her camera to the game.’
‘New pictures! Mom just got them developed. Look! Here’s some of you all dressed up to go to the prom. Cool! Wearing a tux makes you look so —GROWN UP.’
I’ve learned to walk slower with the grandchildren. To take time out to enjoy their growing up. To listen to them. To have personal memories of their growing up, not just memories taken by a camera.
Here’s some memories that always makes me smile.
DILLON – My mother always called him, our little brown-eyed baby. No baby any longer. He is about to enter his second year of college. Still got the brown eyes, but most people have to look up to look into them.
Two of the grandsons were doing a lot of jawing and pushing, so I thought I better step in before WW3 broke out. Naturally, I got a lot of “ He started it”, “No, I didn’t, he did,” and the like. Then Dillon threw out, “Alex called me the A word.”
“What’s the A word?”
“I can’t tell you,” Dillon said. “I’m not supposed to say that word.”
“Dillon,” I said, “I’ll give you permission to say it. If I don’t know what Alex said, how will I know how long I should sentence him to time-out?”
“I can’t say that word,” Dillon told me.
“Okay, then, just give me a hint.”
He thought for a bit and then throwing up his hands he said, “It’s what they call a donkey over in Japan or one of those countries.”
ALEX – I think the first words he ever uttered was a wise crack. He got an funny answer for every question you can ask him. He’s graduating from high school. He’ll be taking his wit to college in the fall.
The Old Hand
The paper’s informative article on potty training books reminded me of my grandson, Alex, and his early days in training. I noticed he was doing a rock star crouch-grab, so I asked if he had to go potty. He gave me a look and said that he did not have to go.
So I said, “Well, then, quit playing with yourself.”
“I am not playing with myself!” he said, indignantly. “I’m checking for wood ticks.”
Published 9/9/00 SPPP Bulletin Board
Meet young ‘Alex McDaniel’ – otherwise known as ‘Alex McMcMr. Know-It-All’!
Pioneer Press Bulletin Board
The Old Hand
Alex, like his brothers and several cousins, would get off the school bus, walk across the field, and come to Grandma Day-Care. My wife always made her little charges do their homework right after their afternoon snack. Alex, then in the second grade, usually found a way to get a rise out of his grandma— and still does.
This particular day he did his homework, but, instead of printing out his real name, used the name Alex McDaniel, and laughed when his grandma scolded him for goofing off. I, Mr. Know-It-All, pointed out to my wife that, in a way, that was his name. Mc means ‘son of’. His dad’s name is Daniel, so, in a way, Alex is Alex McDaniel. My wife gave me the look, and was just about to tell me not to encourage him, when Alex jumped in.
‘See, I am Alex McDaniel, my dad is Daniel McDonald, and Jesus is Jesus McGod.’
I managed to stifle a snicker. My wife shook her head. And Alex nonchalantly made the correction to his homework to satisfy his grandmother and went out to play.
Published 5/20/11, SPPP Bulletin Board
The Old Hand
The little girl who told her grandmother that butt was a bad word reminded me of our grandson, Parker. He had just entered preschool and was testing new limits and learning new words. He was standing on a kitchen chair and was bouncing against the back, causing the chair’s front legs to rise and then slam down.
‘Parker’, I warned him, ‘Keep that up and you will fall backwards and bump your head.’
He stared opened-mouthed at me. Slowly his look of surprise changed to a look of anger. ‘I…I… not butthead!’ he shouted. He paused and took a deep breath. Tears were appearing in his eyes. Finally he blurted out, ‘You butthead! And…and that’s a bad name’, he added.
And he threw himself into my arms, pressing his wet face against my neck.
I held him tightly and tried to explain that he had misunderstood me, that I said ‘bump your head’, not ‘butthead’. He was too young, too hurt, and crying too loud for him to understand that his Poppa had not called him a bad name.
Finally his crying wound down and I took a different tact. I suggested a bargain: namely, I would never ever call him a butthead and he would never ever stand on a chair and make it rock backwards. He sniffled and sobbed but he agreed.
Parker is in high school now. I know for certain, that in all these years since, I have kept my side of the bargain. And I am certain that Parker has kept his also.
Published, 5/2/11, SPPP Bulletin Board
AVERY – He is calm and soft spoken. He is also the biggest in his class. He has two years left in high school, a fact that makes all of the coaches happy. In the summer, he is on a traveling basketball team, a traveling baseball team, and has summer football practice.
A little explanation about the following story: Jesse, the Body, Ventura, a has-been professional rassler, ran for the governorship of Minnesota. Since nobody really gave him a chance or campaign money, his few TV ads were stop-motion, using a GI Joe action figure with Jesse’s face instead of Joe’s. These action figures were sold in stores to help raise money for Jesse. Alex and Avery’s maternal grandparents gave them one for Christmas. It was as popular as last year’s fruitcake.
But the voters who usually waste their votes by writing in their own name, or their favorite cartoon character, and the voters who were disenchanted with politics, and the voters who wanted to be a part of a joke, gave Jesse, the Body, a slim margin over both the Democrat and the Republican. The joke was on Minnesota and lasted four years. Jesse’s victory ruined three political careers, the two losers and Jesse’s.
The Old Hand
The other day my son’s mother-in-law took the two youngest boys out Halloween trick-or-treating. When they got home, my son asked Avery, the four year old, where they went.
“To the ugly G.I. Joe’s house,” the little guy answered.
“The ugly G.I. Joe’s house,” he repeated. “You know, the G.I. Joe, Grandma gave us and we never play with.”
My son was still puzzled.
“She took him to the governor’s mansion,” my daughter-in-law explained.
Published 11/4/01, SPPP Bulletin Board
And there is a gem of our oldest grandchild, Erik, that I already told in:
I’m enjoying my second chance. I am happy that my sons are making sure that they are not missing their children growing up. They all see to it that they are part of their children growing up. Maybe it is a new generation thing. Or maybe it is an effort not to make the same mistake their father made.