Today was a beautiful day in southwest Ohio. The sun was shining and the only things breaking up the deep blue sky were white, fluffy clouds. Even better, the temperature was around 75 degrees and humidity so low I didn’t walk around feeling like a grease spot all day. We also had two of our grandkids come over for a visit. We knew they were going to stay with us a few hours so we planned the day accordingly. What I didn’t know was the epiphany that awaited me later in the afternoon.
We knew the kids were coming over so we planned a fun day of lunch and playing followed by ice cream. Soon lunch was over and we arrived at Jump & Jacks. The grand kids were excited and soon they were inside with their shoes safely tucked away in a cubbyhole along with Mamaw’s. The place is a giant, indoor playground with slides of all kinds, a multilevel jungle Jim with cargo nets, hanging balls, and a set of stairs with rounded, cushioned steps. Mamaw and the kids took off up the rounded steps and I settled down in a chair next to Mamaw’s purse. I pulled out my iPhone and was ready to take pictures, work on a writing exercise and peruse the internet at my leisure.
As I sat there full of anticipation I began to notice a distinct odor. It was unmistakable, the odor of hundreds of tiny feet. It seemed to roll over me in waves. I tried to breathe through my nose but stopped when I was sure I could taste the odor. Usually when I’m in this type of situation, in the midst of people not the odor, I watch and make up stories and characters as an exercise for writing. I call it my observation exercise. After finally getting past the odor I eased into the observation exercise and internet browsing. My first observation was the fact their free Wi-Fi sucked. If a business is going to offer free Wi-Fi, why not make it decent? I would rather know going in I was going to have to rely only on my phone network than be promised Wi-Fi and only get sucky Wi-Fi. What good is it when it takes longer to download pictures on the Wi-Fi than straight over the cell provider’s network? By this time other parents had settled in around me and soon I made another observation. I found the parents of other children annoying. They were loud, pushy, and took too many pictures. Another observation was the fact that the round, curvy slides were all bright colors and enclosed. This is great until you’re trying to find lost kids and a lost Mamaw. I eventually found them and it was clear Mamaw was having as much fun or more than the grand kids. I might add if the tubes were clear I may have found them without having to call the fire department and a search party. Soon, still sitting in my seat, another observation smacked me square between the eyes like a sharp, hot knife. It was a headache brought on by the constant screaming of annoying kids and the afore mentioned annoying loud parents. I thought what the heck; there should have been some type of warning. Why weren’t they handing out boxed sets of ear plugs and nose plugs at the door? Suddenly the words of my daughter, spoken a few months ago hit me.
“Dad,” she said. “You are going to turn into a grumpy old man. I can see you sitting on the front porch shaking your fist in the air and yelling at passing kids and cars and maybe even squirrels.”
Suddenly I heard trumpets sound and angels sing, you know, the kind of things that happen on TV and in the Movies when someone has a unique revelation of sorts. It was true, I’d become a grumpy old man. Why not embrace it, I thought. Take hold of the grump and make it mine. Instead of shaking my fist at cars and kids I would shake the cars and kids themselves. Wait a minute. No I wouldn’t. I’m pretty sure that would be against the law. If anything could make a person grumpier it would be sharing a six by six foot cell with a six by six foot cell mate named Bubba. So I took a deep breath and went to my happy place, the one in my head not the bottle of Xanax in the medicine cabinet. With a goofy grin on my face and my cell phone poised to take pictures I survived the remaining time at Jump & Jacks.
Later in the evening, after the kids were gone and Mamaw and I were sitting on the couch staring at each other with that “we actually survived” look on our faces it was easy to tell who had borne the brunt of the afternoon activities. Mamaw’s cheeks were dragging the floor and I don’t mean she was lying face down in the carpet. She had spent the day climbing up and down the three story jungle Jim and chasing after our 1 ½ year old granddaughter and our 4 year old grandson. I think it would be safe to say she could skip any workout she had planned for this week. With thanksgiving in my heart I rubbed her shoulders and kissed her head. Realizing, at the end of the day, I had so much to be thankful for I made a decision. I would put off being a grumpy old man for a few more years maybe after the great grandkids grow up.