By DAVID GREEN
Let me point out right from the start that it wasn't my idea nor did I condone the activity. She was just too fast for me. It’s not easy to compete with a preschooler.
Colleen and I made a trip to Kentucky last weekend to visit daughter Rosanna and family. I told someone we were making a sudden trip to visit the middle daughter and she said something like, "I hope things are OK with her.”
I suppose my statement might have sounded as though there was trouble brewing, but actually the only problem was that Colleen was in need of a grandma fix. She wanted to be near Rosie who is about to give birth. She really wanted to visit granddaughter Caroline. She really wanted to visit grandson Ryland, too, but one trip required flying and the other was a five-hour drive. Rosanna is now in Lexington, Ky.—still 325 miles away, but much closer than Louisiana.
I was thinking on the drive back home that my brother Tom's kids are now both in Washington, D.C., and my sister Diane's kids are all near Atlanta. And where did we go wrong? Our family is split up among Florida, California and now Kentucky.
November is my “vacation” month between the fall and winter sports seasons, and without the sports news I can put out a 12-page paper and leave town for a couple of days—at least that's the goal. And besides, Saturday was my birthday, so we rather quickly made the decision to go and off we went.
Rosanna and her husband, Taylor, both graduated from Berea College south of Lexington and this past weekend was the college homecoming, so we ended up spending most of Saturday there.
I was sitting next to Caroline, age 2 1/2, at lunch when she started blowing bubbles into her water through a straw. I admit, I'm out of practice at this stuff and I no longer readily remember what's OK to ignore and what needs to be nipped in the bud before bigger problems emerge. I figured I could tolerate this, and neither parent indicated that it was a forbidden activity, so I just held her glass to make sure it didn't spill while the bubbles erupted from below.
I was holding the glass, but I wasn't looking when she dropped a french fry into the mix for that to bubble around. Maybe something else went in before I decided that was enough of that. I know, most grandparents wouldn't have let it get started, but I can still remember how much fun it is.
Colleen and I landed a baby-sitting job that evening when Rosie and Taylor attended a homecoming activity, so we headed back to Lexington with Caroline and stopped for dinner at a place called Alfalfa.
I read the kid's menu choices to Caroline and she quickly settled on noodles. When her meal arrived, she quickly decided she wasn't hungry for noodles. She wasn't very hungry for the slice of bread she was given, either, especially not the half that fell on the floor, nor did she eat more than a couple of beans from my plate of rice and beans. She really wasn't there to eat, except for the slice of cucumber off my salad.
But then she dropped a noodle into her water and started stirring it around. I didn't see it happen, but I saw her grab the bean from her plate and add that, and I could only watch in awe at how quickly she grabbed a handful of my beans and rice and tossed that in, also.
OK, I was learning now. I quickly saw that it had already passed the point of no return.
It was obvious even to an out-of-practice grandpa that we needed to make our escape. This meal could be finished at home while a little girl played with her non-food toys.
I don't want to leave you with the impression that Caroline is an ill-mannered little twit. I would instead describe her as adventuresome, fun-loving, inquisitive. I think her red hair glows a little when she gets that what-can-I-get-away-with look and grabs a noodle for her water.
I suppose she has this grandfather all figured out. She knows that if all the other adults weren't around, he would be smashing beans and floating bread, and certainly teaching her a few new tricks.