I’ve heard it said that, as time goes by, the roles of
parent and child are sometimes reversed. I didn’t think I was old enough to
experience that, but I’m pretty sure I did. It happened on a Thursday when my
daughter, Jaynee, brought my grandchildren, Connor and Bailey, to stay with me
while she shopped at a consignment sale. Connor needed to write names on
Valentines and decorate a box to take to school the next day and the plan was
for him to do that while he was at my house.
When Jaynee dropped them off, I already had supplies on the
kitchen table for Connor to use. As he ran by, I grabbed him and said, “Connor,
you need to write names on your Valentines and decorate your box.” I really did
But Connor, Bailey, and even our dog, Emma, had other plans.
Outdoor plans that had nothing to do with valentines or scissors or glue.
Connor’s plan started off with a little game called “Let’s
See How Dirty Bailey Can Get.” First, he attached the rope from the pulley on the
tree house to his sister’s belt loop. Next, he climbed into the tree house,
took off his shoes and threw them to the ground. Then he pulled on the rope causing
Bailey to dangle just above the ground. The object of the game was for Bailey to
use her hands and feet to scratch and claw her way over to the shoes and pick
them up. Meanwhile, Emma ran joyful circles around them.
It took quite a while for them to tire of this game, even
though at one point Connor let go of the rope suddenly, causing Bailey to
exclaim that she broke her hiney.
Eventually, Emma’s ever-widening circles beckoned Connor and
Bailey into the woods and toward the creek. I think it’s safe to say that, by
that point, I was the only one pretending we still had a plan.
Three out of four of us ended up in the creek. Sometime later, Jaynee entered the house
hoping, I’m sure, to pick up twenty-four signed valentine cards, one decorated
box, and two kids ready for bed. Instead, she was greeted by a pile of muddy
clothes and Connor at the table, in his underwear, scratching names on
valentines. Bailey was in the tub.
In our defense, we had attempted to decorate the box. Connor
remembered that last Valentine’s Day, he and his mother had covered his box
with camouflage duck tape, so he asked me for some colored tape. Unfortunately,
all I had on hand was blue painter’s tape which didn’t have the same effect. He
went ahead and stuck some on anyway. Bailey found a piece of fake fur with the
art supplies and used it to line the inside of the box. That was it. A hairy
box with a little blue tape stuck here and there for color.
Before you start feeling sorry for Connor, though, let me
assure you that I knew all along he would have an awesome box to take to school.
I knew this because his mother is much better than I am at that sort of thing
and I was confident she would fix it up in no time. (That’s probably the same
line of reasoning my kids used whenever I told them to clean their rooms.)
Anyway, within minutes of her arrival, Jaynee had taken a poster that had come
with the valentines and used it to cover the box. The hairy lining was a perfect
touch since the poster had pictures of the guys from Duck Dynasty. Connor added
a few stickers and it was done. Still, it was already past bedtime when they
left my house, and I felt badly that things had not gone as planned.
Then I remembered a day last summer when things had also gone
awry. Connor had talked me into letting him drive our golf cart around the
yard. I was seated next to him in case I needed to grab the wheel or step on
the brake, but somehow neither of those things happened at a time when either
one would have been very helpful. Instead, we barreled through an electric
fence into our garden, coming to rest against a container of mint. Stunned, we
just looked at each other and observed, at the exact same time, that at least
the fence was turned off.
Connor got the heck outta Dodge, leaving me to break the
news to my husband who came out to inspect the damage and just stood there
shaking his head. After being married to me for 33 years, he is no longer
surprised by what happens, but sometimes the how and the why still escape his
Later, at supper, Connor and I tried to act properly
remorseful as we recounted the details leading up to our mishap. In spite of
the damage, though, and since no one was hurt, we had to admit it had been a
pretty cool adventure.
And so, on that Thursday, as I looked back on what I will refer to as the valentine incident,
I decided it belonged in the same category as the golf cart escapade. I may have sent my loved ones home late with a pile of dirty laundry, but we did
end up with twenty-four signed valentines, one decorated box, and three hearts
full of memories of a pretty cool adventure.