When my grandkids were younger occasionally my daughter would ask me to watch them. I would do it because I felt sorry for the kids. Their parents, although basically good people, have a tendency to use poor judgment and act irrationally, such as asking someone like me to babysit their kids. They figured since I was in law enforcement, I would be a responsible person—it’s amazing how many people make that mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I would never do anything to intentionally hurt the little ones, but I’m a writer. If a story gets into my head it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. I would sit the kids down and get them playing a game while I worked on my story. Pretty soon they were tapping me on the shoulder, and I would hardly hear them because I’m into the story.
“Grandpa may we have some cookies?”
A little bit later. “Grandpa, may we have some juice?”
“Grandpa, may we watch TV?”
“Grandpa, may we play with the Wii?
“Grandpa, may we play with your stun gun?”
You’d think kids would appreciate having a nice grandpa who lets them do everything, but nooo. As soon as Grandma got home and asked about the twitches and why they couldn’t blink, the grandkids turned on me and acted like it was my fault. Ungrateful little urchins.
When I was growing up I had two grandmas who would watch me now and then. My mother’s father died when my mother was only three. Grandma never remarried and raised seven kids by herself. I remember her making baked goods so light and airy they would melt in your mouth, and prune kolaches so powerful if you ate more than two you’d get a case of diarrhea that would laugh at a bottle of Kaopectate , but I always ate more than two anyway. When she watched me, I was always helping her do something. Sometimes she didn’t need my help. Sometimes she didn’t want my help, but I helped her anyway—right up until the time I was old enough to actually help her, and then I didn’t want to help.
My sisters and I once picked her a bouquet of dandelions. When we gave them to her she smiled and said, “You should give people flowers when they’re alive and can enjoy them, rather than waiting until after they’ve died and can’t.” I don’t know if that hard-working woman meant to put so much wisdom into one statement, but it’s a rule I’ve always tried to follow.
My grandma on my father’s side was a stay-at-home wife all her life. I always felt she thought of herself as a member of the town’s high society, if a town of a few hundred people had a high society. She baked sometimes, but you had to be really hungry to eat it. Her hobby was entering contests that companies would put out. This was back in the time when contests were actual contests, where you had to write a jingle or a paragraph on, Why I like Miracle Whip in a hundred words or less, rather than nowadays when everything is a sweepstakes, and they just draw a name out of a box. She was good at writing jingles and slogans. Her house was filled with prizes she had won over the years. If there is a writing gene, she would be the one I got it from.
When she watched me she would put me in a room with a box of toy soldiers, and I never saw her again until Mom or Dad picked me up. I imagine she was working on her contest jingles and writing a paragraph about Miracle Whip. I’m glad she didn’t have a stun gun.
My grandkids are old enough now to watch themselves. Pretty soon I’ll be so old they’ll have to watch me. I hope they don’t hold anything that happened while I was watching them against me. They’ve probably forgotten all about it by now–large jolts of electricity will do that to you.