It’s a rainy day and my step-grandson and his pal are sitting on the couch talking about boogers, Darth Vader, arguing whether their classmate Danny is a doofus and exploring other fascinating topics. They start to punch each other and I can see it start to escalate. “Use your words,” I say, tongue-half-in-cheek and one snaps back with a vintage 12-year old boy rebuttal—“Actions speak louder than words.”
Mercifully, the sky clears and I push them out the door. The Zen master Suzuki Roshi once asked, ”How do you control a cow?” and answered his own question with “Give them a bigger meadow to roam around in.” (Not that I’m comparing kids to cows—cows chew their food much more thoroughly and with their mouths closed.) The architect of the outdoors designed the space just right for kids’ energy and in no time, they’re racing to the beach, digging holes and burying themselves up to their neck in the sand. I’m ready to settle down to read my book and they’re begging me to cover their arms with sand.
When they’ve had enough, they burst out, spraying sand all over my towel, then beseech me with a whine to pleeeeeasse take them back to the Sugarbowl sand dune. Reluctantly, I mark my place in my book and down the beach and up the dune we go. They Ninja-roll down it and then climb back up again for more. Show-offs!
While they’re crawling back up the dune like wounded war heroes, I head back the quarter-mile to my book and beach chair. Next time I look, I see their heads bobbing in the distant water, conveniently forgetting the “stay in sight” rule when swimming in the lake. There’s not a soul in sight to help me watch them, leaving me with a moral dilemma—do I keep reading my book and hope for the best or walk all the way back to get them?
Pesky kids! Why can’t they be more like us adults?!