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I used to think grandparents were a little on the nutty side.

Until I became one.

We’ve all been within earshot when a grandparent will look at a child and say, “She’s going to be a doctor” or “He’s going to be an astronaut.”

Sure, we think.

My oldest grandson, for instance, is so mechanical. He loves tools and taking things apart. He’s either going to be an engineer or a safecracker. My youngest grandson is as cool and as charming as he can be. If “Twilight” movies are still around when he’s in his early 20s, he’ll star.

We grandparents see things in our grandkids that their parents don’t see because mom and dad are too busy working their jobs, changing diapers, picking up toys or wondering what to feed finicky kids who want to live on sausage and cheese and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches alone.

And we don't just see these things in our own grandkids. Once you start looking around, you see interesting things in lots of little kids.

Here’s an example.

My wife and I go to St. Michael’s Church in Newark, catching the 4:30 mass on Saturday afternoons. This is, frankly, a mass for those of us who like to sleep in on Sunday mornings. Getting to church on a Saturday afternoon means that the entire Sunday can be a day or rest…or football.

Anyway, very few kids attend in the 4:30 Saturday mass, so when a family does come in, they get noticed.

For the last couple of years, a young woman has brought in her very young son son. My wife and I have watched the little boy grow. He is very, very well-behaved in church, a credit to his mom. Once in awhile we see the dad, too, but most of the time, it’s mom who brings the little boy.

A bit less than a year ago, things changed. Mom had a new baby and sure enough, she brought the infant to church. When dad was with her, things were under control. When dad couldn’t make it, mom struggled with a tiny baby and a slightly restive toddler.

But recently, mom has things under control again, and we’ve been able to get a glimpse of the new baby.

Three weeks ago, the new kid did something that had us talking about what he’s going to be when he (I think it’s a he) grows up.

We were standing for the gospel when the new baby took his pacifier out of his mouth and tossed it.

Now we’ve all seen babies take a pacifier out and throw it. Sometimes the pacifier doesn’t get any farther than the kid’s tummy or high chair or the area on the floor immediately under him.

But not this little kid.

He looked in my general direction – and I was in the middle of a pew across the aisle of the church and three rows behind him – and let the pacifier go…like it was shout out of a launcher.

If they awarded Olympic medals for pacifier-tossing, the parents need to get a video ready for the Olympic Committee. The pacifier came arching across the aisle, and hit somewhere in the aisle in front of us, and bounced up into a pew two rows in front of us. The pacifier had gone 20 feet at least. This kid wasn’t big enough to crawl 20 feet in a straight line, but had arm strength to launch that pacifier, with his mother holding onto him tightly, about seven yards.

The family in front of us, with three young boys, saw it all. The youngest boy, on the end of the pew, walked back to retrieve the pacifier and return it to the mom, who had no idea where it was.

In front of us, the three boys all gave knowing looks of admiration to one another: how neat that a baby could fire a non-aerodynamic object that far…to them, it was funny. To me, a grandfather, it was an impressive feat.

The baby certainly had an early talent. Will he grow up to be a major league pitcher or star center fielder? A quarterback in the NFL? A commodities buyer on the Chicago Board of Trade? A shot put or discus thrower? An NBA three-point specialist from very long range? A church steeple painter? A ceiling hanger?

Or a very romantic young man who pens a love note on a piece of paper, folds it into an airplane, and tosses it out his dorm window, aiming it another dorm window across the quad…and his beloved gets the airplane delivery and is totally smitten and they fall in love and live happily ever after?

Yep, that’s what grandparents think of.


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