I saw a post on Facebook recently that caught my interest and I had to share it. It made me smile as well as remember a few things from when my own kids were young. The post was of a reader board somewhere that read, “No matter how big and bad you are, when a 2-year-old hands you a toy phone, you answer it.” Having been on the receiving end of a few toy phones, I had to agree with the note.
What really made me smile, though, was remembering how my own father fell for that kind of psychology quite often. Let me explain. My father was not a traveler. In fact he despised going much farther than “uptown” to the local tavern to have a beer or two with his buddies. That was about a three block trip and he would complain about that distance quite often as well. When we went rabbit hunting and the swamp we were traveling to was more than 15 miles away, you thought we were heading across the Sahara desert.
I bought my first vehicle before I had a driver’s license and he couldn’t have been happier because that meant I could chauffeur him when we went hunting and he didn’t have to drive. My dad bought his first brand new pickup shortly after he retired. He had that truck until we lost him to cancer a number of years later and it took about about years for the truck’s odometer to hit 10,000 miles. He was depressed for a week that his ride had that many miles on it and I think he walked everywhere for a month afterward to save wear and tear on it.
With all of this in mind, you can imagine what it was like when I graduated from college and moved to Troll Land (the land below the bridge). I might as well have moved to the moon. I got home a couple of times a year and my mom would force dad to make the 550 mile trip about every other year. That is until I had kids. One thing about my dad was he lived for his grandkids, but the distance was still an issue.
I would call him every now and again and ask him if he was going to come down for a visit. He would go on to tell me I was nuts if I thought he was going to make that trip. I would simply agree it was a long drive and then I would ask him to hang on and I would put the kids on the phone. They would tell Grandpa Poncho hi and then ask, “Hey grampa, when are you coming for a visit?” It would take about a tenth of a second and he would answer, “I will get Grandma to pack the car and we could be down there early next week.” “That would be great, Grandpa. Can’t wait to see you and Grandma Becky. Love you.” They would hand the phone back to me and I had to smile. I wished him a safe trip and I would see he and mom soon.
As long as that trip could be, the grandkids in his book were always worth the miles. He would spend his time with them making sure he learned anything new the kids had to show him which usually meant answering a toy phone every now and then. I know he was wise to my methods of getting him to visit, but the look on his face when he was with my two little ones, made the methods justifiable in anyone’s book.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: João Charrua