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By John Addyman

   One of the nice things about being a grandparent is that you get to play a game in your mind all over again.
   When my wife and I were parents of young children, we’d often have quiet conversations late at night, noting something one of our kids had done during the day, wondering if that was a precursor of a career…for instance, our daughter Elisabeth started teaching her sister Mary Kate every day in the basement playroom, and now Elisabeth has her degree and is trying to land a teaching job.
   My wife and I are still having the same kind of conversations, but now we’re projecting what our grandkids might grow up to be.

   Our grandson Jaden offered one of those moments of careful consideration on Friday at Walmart.
   Jaden is a smart, creative, extremely busy little kid – just like his mom was. Put an obstacle in his path, and he’ll figure a way around it, over it or through it. Just like his mom.
   So Jaden and I end up doing a little negotiating. I’m a Meals on Wheels volunteer every other Friday, and Jaden likes to come with me. He has some favorite people along the route he likes to deliver the meals to and say “Hi,” and many of those folks enjoy seeing him.
   But he can also get squirmy. The reward for him behaving is lunch – wherever he wants to go. We’ve been to Wendy’s, to “Old McDonald’s” and last week, to Burger King.
   His mom wrote me a note Thursday night.
   “Jaden is excited for Meals on Wheels tomorrow. He asked me to send you an e-mail to ask if he can choose to go to Burger King for lunch. Apparently they have a new Spngebob Squarepants toy.”
   “We’ll go wherever he wants to, as long as he behaves,” I wrote back, adding that Walmart was also on my list.
   “He said he will behave tomorrow,” his mom wrote to me.
   Once he got in the car and we started out toward Lyons, Jaden was all about Burger King for lunch and the Spongebob Squarepants toy. I told him we had to deliver all the meals first, then I needed to stop at Walmart for some paper for my computer printer.
   “I don’t want to go to Walmart,” he said.
   “Sorry, but we have to make a stop there,” I told him.
   Remember last Friday? It was bitter cold with a very stiff wind, and it had snowed the night before (like it has every day since Thanksgiving). When we got to Walmart, Jaden sprinted from the parking lot to the entrance because that wind was so fierce.
   It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes for me to find the paper I wanted. Once we got to that set of shelves and he knew I was deciding which pack to buy, Jaden was ready for something else.
   “May I go look at the toys?” he asked.
   The first toy aisle was catty-corner to where we were in the store, so I said “Okay,” and off he went. I know that first aisle is full of cars and trucks, and he’d stay right there. He disappeared around the corner, I picked up two packs of paper and followed him.
   I didn’t anticipate what happened next.
   A young dad or uncle was shopping with two little boys, both about Jaden’s four years of age. The dad had been there too long already, and the kids were being offered too many attractive choices to make up their minds. Both kids had a car in each hand, and the dad had two more in his hands.
   “One car,” he told the kids one by one. “You can have one car. Make up your mind, man.”
   Jaden had been working his way down the aisle. First he was looking at cars. Now he was moving between the two little boys, looking at the cars they had in their hands.
   In the next couple of minutes, he told the little guys the good and bad points of each car they had taken off the shelf, told their dad/uncle about the cars he had in his hands, and pointed to another car on the shelf he thought might be a better choice.
   What dropped my jaw was the fact that the two kids had been whining and their dad/uncle was showing every sign of being fed up – but now they were all quiet and paying close attention to everything Jaden said.
   It was like a chance meeting with a four-year-old manufacturer’s representative. It was clear Jaden knew his stuff.
   From behind him, I told Jaden it was time to go. He put the car he had pulled off the shelf back where it belonged, and walked towards me. Funny, the two little boys each looked hard at the toys they had in their hands, as if they were now making a decision based on better information. One by one, they put a car back on the shelf…and the dad/uncle did the same.
   Somewhere in heaven my dad, a furniture salesman most of his life, and my mom, who sold advertising for Bride’s Magazine, were smiling and giving Jaden a thumb’s up, saying proudly, “That’s our great-grandchild.”
   “I was just helping them,” Jaden told me as we walked away from the toy aisle.
   “You did a good job,” I told him.
   Ten minutes later we were at Burger King, and Jaden was opening his new Spongebob Squarepants bath toy.
   He didn’t like it. 


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2 Comments to "OUT OF MY HEAD for Jan 26 11"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    He's a lucky boy and you are a lucky Grandpa. Thanks so much for that story!

    Posted on Thu Jan 27, 02:58:00 PM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Just a smile for both of you.

    Posted on Thu Jan 27, 05:27:00 PM EST


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