Monday, May 30, 2016

Karma


I'm standing at the Redbox movie rental outside Walgreens. I wait for a woman to pass who gets out of her car after me. The extra courtesy feels right, so when another couple saunters up, I tell them I'm not in a hurry; if they are, please go ahead.

"I'm just returning a movie," the young woman responds. She moves forward and while starting the process, a Walgreen's employee walks up to all of us and asks, "Would you like a free movie coupon?"

Yippee! A free movie.

I spend nine days helping my daughter. I cook, clean, forage for food, hold the new baby, play with and taxi around the three year old. With only four days left as the grandma nanny, I get an airline email notifying me of a first class upgrade. Wooohoo! First class luxury.

When cruising for a parking place along with a pile of other drivers, I acquiesce an open spot to another car, another person. I keep driving, searching, and find an even closer spot.

I dare you to try generous, and to see what happens.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ask

I am waiting to check my grandson into preschool, when a man and his daughter hurry up behind me.

 "Excuse me Ma'am. Do you know how to put on a headband?"

Do I ever.

I slip the band over her head, around her neck, then ease it upward, carefully tucking her hair into place.  She snuggles it past her ears.

It's a skill so simple, I take it for granted.  Sometimes, when something is second nature, we assume it is to everyone else too.

The IT guy at school sent out an email months ago with instructions concerning a certain IT protocol. I didn't remember the months old policy and sent him a question he'd already addressed.  He responded that he'd already sent out the information.

Instead of feeling incompetent, or guilty for my faux pas, the experience actually reminded me of a simple truth. I replied and thanked IT Tom for helping me see why my students ask the same questions over and over when it is so clear to me--it isn't clear to them; it's my job to be more clear, and so what if they ask again and again. Questions are a way to clarify and to understand.

Question asking has become almost a shameful effort. We are embarrassed to admit we don't get it.

I reiterate to my students that school is not a place where we know the answers; it is a place to explore, to guess, to synthesize, in order to find the right answer. I often raise my voice with passion, "Take a risk!" when trying to get a student to respond. Eventually, the ideas and hypothesis start to roll.

The best environments create questions and inquiry. They are places where we are free to say, "I don't know," or "I'm curious," or "Help me understand." Even, "Let's start over," and especially, "Explain to me how you see it."

The magic word: ask.

The magic response: patience.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Woman, My Friend

Two other women and I teach the twelfth grade Language Arts and History at our school. Deb and I share four classes and Heather manages four on her own. We plan independently of one another but we also collaborate. Last year, we developed a new curriculum, so it's been an adventure and an adventure that needs to be tweaked.

I love my teaching partners. They are smart, kind, responsible and creative. And patient. I celebrate their skills that I am missing and they hoorah the things I do right. We are lucky to be in this together, because 100 seniors can be a challenge.

Recently a group of female students mentioned how much they loved that the three of us were friends and supportive of one another. The male students notice it too. Sometimes students ask if we are best friends.  If we hang out on the weekends. They appreciate our relationships, even more than I would have expected. We take our relationships for granted, the students do not. How could this be? This is what I've been wondering about.

And wondering.
And wondering.

Wondering has led me to reality TV. Reality TV featuring women, thrives on discordant women's relationships. Think of of "The Housewives of Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, London...etc. etc. etc. The wives of attorneys, of football stars, of you-name-it, I'm sure it will be on next season.  Think of all those bachelorettes (season 11) all vying, eyeing, pining for that one man. All women are the competition, all women stand in her way.

Conflict is at the heart of good story and without conflict, there is no story. Hence for TV to make money, there must be conflict. Unfortunately, conflict is created in the under-developed story, the simple scene of misunderstanding and shallow relationships, where the stars squabble over the petty, the unsubstantial and appear to be petty, disagreeable, greedy, but watched and emulated women.

Thank you women of television for creating the all-women-fight-and-don't-get-along propaganda. Propaganda that appears to be working on our students.

But if  it's going to be a fight, we are making it right, at least for our students. We've taken notice and we're bound and determined to always be different, to represent that our dearest friends are women whom we love and whose relationships we cherish.

 The saddest segue is when we assume and act upon what we think is standard behavior; reality TV is setting the standard and not only for fighting women. Beware. Decide what kind of woman, man, citizen you want to be, decide the kind of attitude you want to possess, the values you cherish, and defy the artificial roles of reality.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Heavy Locks

I was born in the height of segregation. Casinos in Las Vegas still had a separate entrance for black people, and black people lived in a separate part of the city.

I saw the systemic actions and language of my parents, yet I saw how kind they were to everyone regardless of color. They were more victims of early twentieth century American culture than they were of their hearts. Their good hearts. I saw this contrast even as a little girl. I saw how Dad respected his black employees and his one black friend. Louie Connor even moved into a white neighborhood and Dad went to visit him. Even I sensed the changes. But, I also saw how Grandma moved because her neighborhood culture was changing.

I was in grade school when the city introduced school integration. Either the white children would be bussed to the north or the black children would be bussed to the south. The black children lost the fight and were bussed across town.

It was apparent how different we were and how much alike we were. They were more brave. I couldn't imagine how hard it was to board a bus in the early morning and arrive at a foreign school where I could have been among only a handful of people of the same color. There were only three children in my classroom. We all got along and proved the theories were right. Then why was my integrated high school shut down for a day because of a perceived potential for a race riot?

In the early 1970s, I had two weekend visitors I'd met at tennis camp who came to play in a tennis tournament with me. One of the girls was "Red," I was "Blondie" and Dana was "Brownie." Simple descriptions of our physical presence. Mom and Dad welcomed Brownie, but it was new territory having a black guest. I would have never thought twice about her adorable self being black, except that it was a big deal to Mom and Dad. I think they were proud of me, of themselves and happy things were changing.

So when I meet my daughter's neighbors, and they are black, I realize I am still a product of my upbringing and its unique time period. My daughter didn't even think of mentioning their race and for this I am overjoyed. To further divide the generation gap, she can't believe I even think it's worth mentioning which makes me even happier. Joe and Linda will be closer to my grandchildren than I will ever be and how lucky, my grandchildren are to just love people because they are people, and not to associate them with a race. They are free.

Civil Rights fought for the freedom of black people, but the core of the fight was even greater for the freedom of whites, for prejudice is the prison with the heaviest locks.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What The? No More

While in Chicago a few months ago, each time my grandson encountered me, he said, "What the?" I thought it was funny...and a little hurtful. Worse, it gave me a reason to give up working on our relationship. He is only a three year old and I am an adult, and yes, I needed to start acting like the adult. 

When my students asked me what the best part of my trip was, I didn't immediately know but asked, "Do you want to know the funniest part of the trip--it was my grandson." I told them about "What the?" and boy did we have a good laugh. Since it was now comedy, I had a reason to not care about his rejection. "What the?" became a kind of buzz phrase in the classroom. But one student saw the underbelly of my behavior and challenged me to improve my relationship with "What the?"

A real classroom is a place of reciprocal learning, and I had a lesson to learn. This time, I came to Chicago with high hopes of breaking down the wall between the three year old I was afraid of, and my weak, weak, self. 

I was aware of two important changes:
I was intent on thinking about his needs and feelings more than mine, and his mom and dad weren't around, so he had to depend on me.

One day I picked him up from preschool and as he was walking balance-beam style on the rim of a planter box, he tumbled and skinned his knees. He was brave but anxious to get home and band-aid the wound. 

When I was unbuckling his carseat, he must have been in a little more pain because he wanted me to hold him and carry him into the house. I picked him up and he wrapped himself tight around me. It was a full fledged hug and I was overcome with love for him--so much that I started to cry. When I told him I was crying because I loved him so much, he gave me a questioning/funny look, but then he smiled and started giggling this sweet laugh that was a kind of joy. We stood there and I told him repeatedly that I was crying because I loved him so much and he kept looking and smiling and we laughed and laughed joyously together.

We can't not love the people we serve. I just needed to serve the little fellow....and he hasn't said "What the?" to me once.

I told my teaching partner she could share this story with our students. They needed to know their encouragement had made a difference. In typical teacher student relationships, they were very very proud of my improvement.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Glimpses of Divine Protocal

A friend of my daughter 's, asks to borrow a few hundred dollars. It's the weekend and on the following Monday, she promises to pay her back.  It's ironic someone would ask to borrow money from my student-poor daughter who worries each month about paying her rent. But she does have the money, and she loans it out. Now she's worried.

I hear the catch in her voice.

"What's wrong?"

"Oh nothing."

"Come on, just let it go," I coax.

"Okay, and she tells me the money borrowing incident."

I worry most that if the friend doesn't pay back the money, my daughter will have the burden of disappointment. I don't want her to resent the borrower either. I give her a pep talk, assure her the friend's intentions are good and help her to let it go.

My father had a great plan when anyone needed to borrow money. He lent the money, but in his own mind, he pretended he gave it away- when the cash left his wallet, it's as if it were never his. With his philosophy, he protected himself from resentment if the borrowers never repaid him.

We hang up the phone and I feel her burden. I call her back and insist that if the person doesn't pay her back, I will write her a check for the lost amount.

She insists she will not take my money.

I insist that she will.

"I want to make up the difference. You have to let me," and then I have a golden moment of insight. "Don't you see it? It's like the atonement. Someone falls short, so I'm there to make up the difference, to make it right."

I've seen a glimpse of the divine. We fall short and the Savior makes up the difference. It is grace. It is his benevolence. I cry because I understand just a little bit more the plan of salvation.

Every so often,  I see a shaft of light in a dusky world, and understand just a little more, one of God's principles. The light brings tears and gratitude. It helps me understand our God of whom I have no knowledge, but of whom I rely on with faith.

In another instance, Tony makes a sacrifice for a person in need, but this person cannot show gratitude because he is consumed in his own story. Tony feels a little discouraged, but I have witnessed the entirety of his sacrifice.

I tell Tony how much I appreciate what he's done for this other person and in my eyes, he's grown in stature.

It happens again, my breath catches and I tear and choke up because once again I've glimpsed how heaven views the world.

"It's like Heavenly Father!" I say.

 When we serve our fellowman, it may go unnoticed, unrecognized, unrewarded, but it never escapes the sharp eyes of an omnipotent Heavenly Father who always knows what we have done for our fellowman. It doesn't matter if the recipient of our devotion isn't grateful, because God is. He's told us when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God. He's told us to do our alms in secret, for when we do, he rewards us openly.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Human Connection

 While on holiday in Wales, a woman hikes a highland trail looking for a well known, oft visited, waterfall. In this country, the land is private but allowance is made for people to cross, come and go, by way of public footpaths. While crossing fields and fences, the woman looses her way. She sees a cottage and a man sitting on the porch and walks closer to ask for directions.

"Can you tell me where the footpath is?"

"Aye, you're looking for the way to the waterfall."

"Yes," she answers and he gives her directions.

She thanks him and continues on. She never finds the waterfall, but she does find a lovely tree to nap in and spends her afternoon in the splendor of a Welsh forest.

On her way back, the man is still sitting on the porch. They wave to one another and he calls her over.

"Would you like some tea?"

 She accepts his invitation and learns he is on a spiritual retreat. She too is searching for answers and as the two engage and enlighten one another, she finds insight to her quest.

Oh how I want to be walking along a footpath and have someone, even a stranger, ask me to sit down for tea. The encounter, the concept is so enchanting.

I have been thinking of this story for one and a half days, when I take a dusk-time walk in a Chicago neighborhood. I imagine passing my stranger--there is a wave and an invitation, "Would you like some tea?"

"I would love to have tea with you." We would then engage in our own enlightening discussion.

I see how hungry I am to learn and understand; I see how much there is to learn and understand. I see how I crave human connection.

When I see a "Black Lives Matter," sign in the berm of a yard, I want to meet the homeowner and ask about her passion, her disappointments, and the movement that's rocked a nation. Do black people want white people to post signs? Is posting signs for black people only?

I pass a home with a sign to fight prejudice against Muslim refugees.I want to stop and listen to this story while sipping a cup of tea. Is this homeowner a refugee?  I wish I could tell her my refugee encounter with Muslims in Athens. I want to speak of the same love of the same God with just a different name. I pass by the house three times hoping someone will come out on the porch and invite me to sit for tea.

The house on the corner has a bridge, a waterfall, a gazebo and little paths throughout. The sound of water, the twinkling white Christmas lights create an enchanting garden. I loop past it four times hoping someone will notice my admiration and invite me through the rose trellised arbor for a tour.

A day later, I see my chance for human connection, and it is through children. Ezra sees three children playing across the street and wants to say hello.

"Let's grab your sidewalk chalk and ask if they want to draw."

We are across the street in less than 60 seconds.

"Hi, what's your name?"

"Rebecca." I learn she is five years old. A few minutes later, Jacob introduces himself and less than five minutes later, Ike, the mom comes out and says hello with a plate of watermelon. If I lived here all the time, I am sure she would be my friend, and many more days would be spent tracing leaves on the sidewalk.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Leaning

A Book of Mormon prophet, Abinadi, testified of a certain people's wickedness--to that certain people. Not surprisingly, he was gravely unpopular and eventually died for his boldness.  But, it's what he had to do.

It is during this discussion of the prophet Abinadi, in Sunday school, that a woman shares her own Abinadi story.

She was an American exchange student in Germany and was out with the daughter of her host family when this daughter was verbally accosted by three boys. The boys kept speaking cruelly to the daughter, kept criticizing her.  The exchange student, now a woman, still remembers the feelings of discomfort. She knew the boys were wrong but felt powerless to stop the teasing. She reached the point where she could no longer tolerate the bullying. She had to act, but was terrified to do so.

She recalls, "I was leaning on what I knew was right."

I love this phrase, this surety.

While leaning on what she knew to be right, she stood and turned around to face the tormentors.

"Stop. Stop it right now."

She was surprised to see how her boldness to do what was right intimidated the cruel boys.

She was surprised by the outcome of leaning on what she knew to be right.

When the power of rightness is strong, it's like a mighty redwood. Leaning on a redwood is sure to keep us upright.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Goldfish Swimming School

We hop in the car and head off to the Goldfish Swimming School!

We have the swim bag, the swimmer, the address, and the enthusiasm of proud grandparents.

We walk into the pseudo tropical paradise: fake palm trees, painted turtles and whales on the walls, and little coconut huts for changing. Even a blow-drying bar for the wet-heads.

The object of our affections and attentions climbs out of his shorts, shirts and shoes, receives his lane assignment with timidity, and moves bravely towards the deep blue, or in this case the four foot  deep pool.

Grandma and Grandpa and the other thirty-something-aged parents wait behind the glass enclosure or the "shark tank."

After the little guy swims his laps or puts his head under water,  he paddles to the side of the pool, pulls off his goggles, and looks straight at us for approval. We, and the parents, are trained better than Sea World dolphins--when our posterity looks up, we clap, we over-animate our smiles, and we give exuberant thumbs up!

His first glance at grandma and grandpa, is a blank stare.

"He thinks we're ridiculous," I say.

Tony laughs at the almost 100% possibility of this being true.

As ridiculous as he may think we are and actually may be, every time he returns to the side of the pool, he looks straight to those ridiculous grandparents for that repeated and guaranteed reassurance.

I repeat a story Tony has heard many times, "Remember when I was in my forties and I rode that great wave and the first thing I did was look up to see if my mom was looking?

I then heard a new story, "When I used to go fishing with my dad, and when I pulled up a big fish, I'd always look over hoping Dad had seen it."

Parent approval and reassurance; it's something we never outgrow and one thing we always need to give.








Saturday, May 21, 2016

Crepes By the Dozens

Ever since scoring a secret crepe recipe smuggled out of France and finding a hidden Parisian shop with a crepe making tool made from a simple T of wood, crepe making has become my specialty.

All my years of mothering and homemaking and I never had a specialty. Really because I never wanted one. Never wanted to be obligated or have to go out of my way when I didn't want to or feel up to it.

Tony had a specialty, and I saw how it obligated him to Christmas Eve dinners and special get togethers by the requests for his perfected recipe of Kung Pao chicken.

Finally, I think I've mellowed enough to embrace my own specialty, and who would have thought it would be crepes.

The first grandchildren request for grandma-nanny was crepes for breakfast. I'd anticipated this and even brought two cans of squirt whipping cream.

All the little people were pleased with their petit dejeuner.

I've that found crepes aren't just for the little people in my family.

When one of my students needed $250 to finish his senior project of making blankets for an abuse therapy group, I thought of crepes.

Without thinking (proof it's become my specialty), I proposed to the class, "What if I made crepes and we sold them during the school's 30 minute mentoring session?" I asked. "If I could make 250 crepes..." Students jumped in with enthusiasm, "I'll bring plates." "Who'll bring nutella?" Who will help assemble?"

Over the next two nights,  I made 250 crepes and questioned my own craziness. But I kept my head to the griddle.

On the appointed morning, in 30 minutes we sold $251 worth of whipping cream/nutella crepes. The gang pitched in and peddled crepes to classes. I knew kids were hungry, but I didn't know it would be that easy. In the moment of success, I'd already forgotten all of the pre-work (more evidence of embracing my own specialty).

Previous to the crepe sale, I'd made 500 crepes for the senior breakfast (with a lot of help), made crepes for the AP breakfast, for the winterim breakfast. I look forward to helping out in the future with crepes.

My mom's specialty is making quilts and baby blankets. "Hey Mom, do you have an extra for a special friend?" "Of course."  Each granddaughter has received a graduation quilt and a wedding quilt.

For my neighbor, it's her signature Rolo filled brownies. She's filled requests for banquets, parties and girls' camp.

For the nice lady down the street, it's her homemade rolls. They've been auctioned, sold to help refugees and if you're in the inside circle, they're for Sunday dinner.

Food is such an easy specialty to define, but when I think of other people's gifts, I think of how far I fall short. I think of the biggies like compassion, kindness and unconditional love --all the things I want even more to be my specialties/gifts---and realize, crepes may be the price to pay for those greater gifts.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Monsters Inc

I wake up to a familiar little face who snuck into my bed just as I was falling asleep.

"What time is it?" I ask the little face, worried we might have overslept and now will have to late-rush-chase the school age children off to school.

"6:30," the little face answers. Phew, plenty of time. I didn't blow my first day of responsibility.

"What time do the little monsters gets up?"

She informs me it could be any minute.

"Why do you call them little monsters?"

"Cause they're so cute."

And because they might be up in seconds, but only because they are so cute and because monsters are sometimes the unfamiliar, the demanding, the full time focus I'm not used to, especially while all on my own. The little monsters' grandpa, is tending another little monster in Chicago. Little monsters everywhere! How blessed we are!

I was a little concerned when these two grandsons, of whom I'm in charge of for a few days, were born only 18 months apart. My only knowledge of two little brothers born so close together, belonged to a long time family friend. The boys were like a match and gasoline and found mischief in every corner. When they were small, their escapades were hysterical and made funny stories. As they grew, the escapades grew more complicated and costly.

The first incident of notoriety came with a garden hose and a neighbor's open bathroom window. Together, they pulled it across their yard, into the neighbor's yard, and funneled it through the window. One of the boys held the hose while the other turned on the water. The story never included how it all ended, and never needed to. The listener was incredulous and already overwhelmed with sensory and imagined details of the disaster.

The shenanigans continued until the day of the last family vacation. The extended family could no longer take the hotel security reports of  the devious duo or the expenses of cleaning up the messes.

No one talks about the brothers anymore. They're grown and the antics went from inquisitive and mischievous to lawyers, jail time and probation.

Yesterday, as my first day as grandma-nanny was the most time I've ever spent, alone and in charge of the two little monsters.

They wrestle! And oh how they love to dig and dig and dig. Each hour's outings are covered with fresh black dirt. Bath time is like river rafting the Colorado.

I've never had a brother, never had a son--the newness and unfamiliarity helps me to clearly see boys have distinctive characteristics and that two close-in-age boys have a unique camaraderie. Not too unlike what sisters share, but different.

Yet, boy-different has a soft side. When one is hurt, the other hurts too. When eating meals together, the 2.6 year old gets down from his stool, pulls the high chair right next to him, wanting his brother close. When 2.6 is the last one to wake in the morning or last one to arouse from a nap, 1.1 year old can't wait until I open the door and he charges forth on his still shaky legs. When it's close to bed time, they know it. They stick close and carry on in their own conversation, understood only to them. When 1.1 protests when I get near his bedroom, I'm unsure if it's because he's protesting sleep or already missing his big brother.

There's definitely a conspiracy here, but it's not only mild mischief--it's undeniable brother-love too.

Just like Monsters Inc.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

T-20 to Rocket Launch!

The second phone call comes at 9:30.
"Grandma, you can come right now. "
"We won't miss it?"
"No, but hurry."
"We're leaving right now."

The first annual sixth grade rocket launch was at 8:00 am and we were still in our Jammie's. All three of us. "Sorry," I told him, but "we'll never make it on time." It's now 9:30, a second rocket launch is about to take place, and this time, I don't have the heart to tell him we still are all in our pjs. However, this time, we're going to make it.

It's a mad rush to pull two infants out of pajamas and into street clothes. For myself, it's pretty easy; everything I have is in a laundry basket, hastily thrown together minutes before I had to leave.

I pick up the 2.6 year old. Hmm, I hope these pants fit you, and an unexpected bonus--they match his pajama shirt. Hey! It looks like a regular shirt. One step eliminated!

Everyone is almost ready to go. Shoes? The boys can go barefoot. It is then I see in my haste, I forgot regular shoes. Heels coming from school and heels for Friday, but I need runners right now. I rip through my daughter's shoes and am thankful we wear the same size.

A grabbed bottle from the fridge, one little guy in my arms, I lead the other into the garage. We could take the car, but getting each boy in his car seat puzzle is a deterrent.  The stroller is easier until I see it's partly folded over. Squishing one baby and searching the back of the seats, I try to force it into position. Click. The 2.6 year old at the front of the stroller has it figured out. Thank goodness for  two year olds who can figure out technology when their grandmas can't.

Everyone buckled, grandma shoe'd, and we're running down the sidewalk. I can do this. We're going to make it.

A short walk later, we open onto a field of revelry! Sixth grade energy everywhere. Tiny, squirrly girls running here and there. Animated, child-like boys circling and jumping in packs. We barely stop when Whooooosh! The first rocket launches followed by another and another. Cheers and I am laughing like I've never laughed. Almost uncontrollably. The venue is so unique and we made it on time! And the little boys are so serious! I laugh so hard, I start to cry! This is joy: loved ones, great effort with time-luck of the Irish, and so, so different from my usual mornings. Big brother comes over to join us. It's a Mary Poppins moment in the chalk drawing.

And then it starts to rain, or in our case, the baby, long overdue from his morning nap begins to cry.  Our magical world disappears; like Jane, Michael and Bert, we head for home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Transplants

Every so often life needs to come down a few notches. As I sit in the garden, in an Adirondack chair, thinking like a two year old, because I am in the presence of a 2.6 and a 1.1 year old, and in order to stay ahead of them both, I need to think like both.

They prefer to dig up their mother's potted plants. I watch the dark rich potting soil fly from scooper to dump truck to patio concrete. Distraction is an important concept in my notched-down life. I pick up one and call to the other. We settle at the edge of the grow boxes where I inspect the newly transplanted golden berries from my hearty home stock, from my prized golden berry patch.
It's what we do with our children; we keep them in our patch. We nurture, fertilize, taste of the sweet fruit they bare. One day, all too soon, they outgrow the boundaries of our patch. We send them on hoping they are sturdy stock. We delight when they bare their own fruit.  And we take it down a notch in their garden enjoying the fruit of their hard work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Margo Is Here

One day earlier: Yesterday morning I walked into my closet and saw the suit I wore last Monday crumpled on the carpet. I hadn't even noticed it before this morning.

 It was in that moment, that I realized I'd shut off a whole week of my life and given it to worry, fear and craving of fried pickles, grilled cheese sandwiches and crepes.

Today: Newborn, new to the world, new to our family, Margo June was born. Thank goodness it was only a week of uncertainty about our granddaughter's life. Yet, I ponder a world of suffering that would be grateful for a one week limit.

The birth of a child can be so ordinary that we sometimes miss the miracle. When it isn't ordinary, we are reminded of the miracle.

Thank God for the little miracle that joined our family today.

I'd post a photo, but you know,....  newborn baby photos are only adorable to parents and grandparents--no matter how miraculous a baby may be.




Monday, May 16, 2016

Oh Samson

The baby is scheduled for a c-section, so Grandpa will be leaving on Tuesday morning to take care of the new big brother until Sunday, when I take over the duties.  How grateful I am for Tony who's willing to represent a new generation of tender men who babysit when needed. It used to be, and still is, the grandma's job, though there've always been those stereotype breaking men willing to carry the load of children and grandchildren rearing.

When my daughters and I think of him going alone and having the sole responsibility of caring for a head strong three year old who has taken to kleptomania recently, we all laugh and applaud. Our love grows for this husband, this father, this super Dad, super man.

It may be that he has ulterior motives. You see, this little grandchild has a mop of curls. His mom knows they won't last forever; the blond is turning gold, the curls are loosening. We too love his curls--except he looks like a "mad" scientist (no biggy-they run in our family), he is sometimes mistaken for a female; hair is always in his eyes, so much that he's asked for clips, but when he sees his hair pony-tailed, he isn't happy.

The final straw came when his mother wrote Grandpa instructions to gel his hair every morning so it stays out of his eyes. If the little guy does it, it will most likely still be a nuisance, so Grandpa needs to do it right.

Grandpa's solution was to get the little guy a haircut while in charge. His mother responded that he doesn't want a haircut. When Grandpa responded that he could be bribed with a donut, she came clean: she likes his long hair. As if we didn't know already.

She knew a donut would be his Delilah.

Maybe a new Lego set, would give him the impetus to convince his mother. Or maybe we are working on the wrong person. Maybe she's the one we need to bribe...