Cheryl and I took our kids, Joe and Darlene, to visit my grandparents at their home this evening. They only live on the other side of town, but with the snow on the ground walking with two teenage grumbling the whole time would’ve tested the patience of saint. It never ceases to amaze me how after spending all day out in the cold with their friends, our children can be all set to head outside once more in spite of the dropping temperature as soon as they finish eating dinner. Their energy and enthusiasm seems limitless. At least, until we remind them they’re supposed to go somewhere with us.
In that moment, all life seems to suddenly evaporate from their bodies and they’re too tired to go anywhere. Or they’ve just remembered an important paper they need to do for school which requires them to stay home, and maybe have a friend or two over to assist them in their research. It is a condition that we in the medical profession have yet to fully analyze and come up with a name for it. I have on more than one occasion considered preparing a paper on this phenomenon for publication. However, the thought of spending hours trying get teenagers, who are NOT mine therefore I have no authority over them, to answer even the simplest of questions quickly cures me of such urges.
Well, after reminding them of how often they’d assured us that they were fully caught up on all their schoolwork, and that we’d discussed the visit several times earlier in the week, they finally went to fetch their coats. I swear it was like watching a the old television series, “The Six Million Dollar Man” or “The Bionic Woman”, where the heroes are filmed in slow motion when they’re supposed to be moving inhumanly fast. Only in my kids case they really were moving that slow, it took them almost a full fifteen minutes just to find their coats and another five to put them on.
Anyway, we finally got them out the door and on the road. We were just pulling up to my grandparents place, when we saw a familiar figure knocking on their front door. It was Nathan.
From the backseat I heard Joe say, “Since when does he know Great-Nana and Great Pop-Pop?”
“Um… I don’t know, maybe because he’s been watching over our family for generations like he told us back in September,” Darlene shot back, in a sweet-sarcastic tone only a sibling can deliver. A second later, she was out of the car dodging snowballs from her brother who’d raced after her.
All of this happened before I’d even killed the engine of the car, leaving me once more to ponder that paper about energy levels in teens. Perhaps I could just try an observational study? I turned to Cheryl who I noticed already her seatbelt unbuckled but hadn’t even opened the door on her side. “Is something wrong?” I asked her.
Turning she gave me a look of disbelief. “I’m not going out into the middle of those two having a snowball fight.”
A second later, a rogue snowball struck the window, followed by a muffled, “Sorry Mom,” from our son Joe. His aim has never been great when it comes to throwing, which is why he’s never made it onto the school baseball team. Darlene on the other hand has a wicked throwing arm from two seasons on the softball team. Which she proceeded to demonstrate by nailing her brother while he was a distracted.
Joe quickly retaliated with a rare well-aimed shot at his sister, who barely managed to dodge the attack unlike my grandmother who had just come out onto the steps to greet all of us.
Thank God Nathan was right there. He could’ve easily just caught the snowball, but it would’ve exploded in his hand, showering Nana in the process and he knew it. So he good-naturedly stepped in front of her and took the hit, which almost knocked the long stocking cap off his head. I saw him say something to my grandmother and then he turned on my offspring yelling in his Groucho Marx voice, “Of course you realize, this means war!”
However, before he could reach down to grab some snow, Nana tapped him on the shoulder and said something to him. Of course I couldn’t hear from inside the car, but I saw him straighten up and give a dramatic sigh indicating hostilities would remain on hold.
At that point, Cheryl finally opened her car door and stepped out. I quickly followed and joined her and our children who were already greeting their great-grandmother.
Nathan was standing respectfully to the side and I joined him.
“Nice kids you got there, Jack,” he remarked, still in his Groucho voice. Taking off his hat and shaking the snow from it, he continued, “Attacking bystanders like that. What’s this world coming to? Don’t answer, I’ll tell you what it’s coming to…”
I was thankfully spared the rest of his performance by Nana’s voice calling out, “Nathan! Joseph’s expecting you downstairs in his ‘shop’. You know he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. And it looks like he may have some other customers who need haircuts as well.” That last remark was aimed at my son, my grandfather’s namesake. Then I noticed she was eyeing me as well.
“I think we’re expected,” Nathan observed in his own voice, and I nodded.
As we followed my grandmother inside, I heard my son saying to his sister, “Wait a minute. With all the things he can do with his body, why does Uncle Nathan need a haircut?”
TO BE CONTINUED…