Chris brought Ali (8) and Abi (3) to spend last week with us. Sandy had knee surgery two weeks earlier and was still at limited capacity and ability. She was required to sit often, but it did not prevent her from doing that grandmother thing . . . holding the girls in her lap and hugging on them.
Since I am really on the mend physically, I stepped up and took on more of the duties. I spend quite a bit of time around the Rockport Community Pool (actually, I serve on the board of Friends of the Pool, Inc.), and pretty much know my way around there, so I scheduled the girls for the best of swimming lessons available . . . small groups in the mornings and private lessons with “Mr. Bill” in the late afternoon. I drove them over and back each day, with daily stops at McDonald’s drive-thru for a take-out lunch, or at Sonic Drive-In for a frozen drink. One day we actually did both . . . drinks from Sonic and lunch from McDonalds. In addition, I cooked breakfast each morning and dinner each evening. I really enjoyed cooking for the girls. I told them their first day that I had set out a bag of fresh Redfish for dinner. Abi looked up at me and declared, “Pappy, I don’t like fish,” to which I replied, “Well, little miss prissy, you have not tried Pappy’s fish yet.” We had dinner and she ate fish like it was going out of style and said, “Best fish ever!” In fact, I took dinner orders each day and each time Abi yelled out “More fish!” She even asked for fish with her scrambled eggs one morning. After three nights in a row, Nana declared no-more-fish. Abi is now a real fish lover!
One afternoon I discovered that I needed to go to the supermarket for provisions. The gals wanted to go with me, so off we went. I enjoyed pushing the basket around with them tagging along and trying to educate me about how to buy groceries. I was not surprised that each one found several things they wanted and really needed. When we arrived at the check-out counter, the clerk handed each of the girls something that looked like dollar bills and off they went to something of a large vending machine 10- or 12-paces away. The girls inserted the things the clerk gave them, and were given small rolled tickets from a return duct. It all looked innocent enough, so I returned to the task of checking out and paying for our bill of goods. One of the items we had purchased (at Abi’s insistence) was a large watermelon that I bet weighed 40lbs. I was just in the process of overcoming a very painful lower back injury, so I requested a carry out. An older man came to assist. As we passed by the girl’s and their vending machine (where they had been joined by a dozen other kids), I announced that we had to go. Abi informed me that she still had “some Buddy Bucks” to spend. I told her to save them for another visit. Good grief . . . you would have thought she was about to get a shot in the doctor’s office! So there I was with a basket of goods, a very large watermelon, a screaming 3-year-old, and a smart aleck old dude pushing our cart and looking down his nose at us. People all around were looking to see the dirty dog abusing the screaming child! Finally, we made it to the car and as I helped her and her Buddy Bucks strap into her car seat, I looked down at her and said, “Abi, I don’t think I am going to be able to take you to the store anymore.” I am pretty sure that as she processed that information and reflected on the fun she had shopping and the goodies she had gotten, that thing we call ‘reasoning’ kicked in for her. She looked up at me with those big brown eyes (of course as I look into them I am always a “goner”) and said, “Pappy, do you remember the time when just you and me went to Walmart and I did really good? I think next time we should leave Ali at home!” Of course, she was referring to last month’s visit that I took her to Walmart while her Dad took Ali fishing on the boat. As I drove us home, it occurred to me that I had just witnessed human nature at work in a 3-year-old . . . that incredible ability to excuse oneself while affixing the blame to someone else! Prisons are filled with “innocent men” who when given the opportunity to speak will quickly declare “Some other dude did it!”
Waylon Jennings wrote and sang a country song in which he speaks of women and says, “they start learning when they are babies.” I think the truth of the matter is that we all learned selfish ways as babies and had to learn to temper them as we developed socially and even more so as we develop spiritually. I am confident that Abi and Ali both have great, tender hearts and will develop beautifully.