Monday, February 17, 2020


They treat me as an equal, a peer. It is a great badge of honor for one, like me, of advancing years. Some might consider it in far less flattering terms. That, I would advise those naysayers, is their problem.

"Uncle Robert, the Yankees stink." It was a greeting unlike others for its succinctness and clarity. The six year old was the first to advise me of the failings of my beloved team, followed immediately by a verbatim repetition from the four year old. Yes, this was surely the beginning of an endless fusillade.

If you believe that the lessons learned young are soon forgotten, I stand as Exhibit A of the fallacy of that proposition. When the boys were just, well, tinier, I had engaged them in a sustained round of silliness at an otherwise somber family gathering. 

I was forevermore branded by these two for exactly what I am, a wholly immature being, fully lacking in an understanding of the distinction between adult and child. I was dismal in my role in this play, comprehending none of the subtlety and nuance of my position. The power of my station was completely lost on me.

The boys had dragged their parents, my niece and nephew, to our home for an overnight stay. For the boys, this house was, at least when they were in my presence, a cross between "Where the Wild Things Are" and "The Cat in the Hat." 

"Why do you have no hair, Uncle Robert? Why is your belly fat? The Rangers stink." All of the ways that parents inform their young ones they cannot act, all of the restrictions placed upon them so they grow into well intentioned, well behaved members of society, none of those constraints existed in this universe.

While staying with us, the boys were required to deal with other, more appropriate persons. Not merely their mom and dad but their baby cousin, not yet one and a half, and assorted other larger humans. The not yet one and a half year old proved particular challenge, for though the boys treated her with affection and regard, she sometimes coveted their belongings. The four year old's stuffed doggy became a particular focus of her attention. Leading to a bit of a sulk by the four year old on the chair in the living room.

Of course, I had the ready solution. I sat on him. Which caused the problem to disappear instantly. And created a greater problem. An incessant request by both boys that I sit on both of them at the same moment. At every moment.

I am a master of escalation. Able to take the smallest ember and create a conflagration. And so it was throughout the boy's stay. All the adults shaking their heads and biting their tongues as I made everything worse by my mere presence.

And when finally it was time for the boys to leave, their Mom apologized for their being, well exactly what I had basically compelled them to be. For the reality is they were anything but bad boys, sweet, cuddly, forever smiling and filled with a joy that permeated from head to toe. Except when I unleashed their inner demons.

Hurry back boys. I had a great time. I just hope insurance covers the damage.


Anonymous said...

You nailed it again!


Anonymous said...

Too funny!


Anonymous said...

Love it... so beautifully captured, as you always do.


Anonymous said...

You’re so funny! I remember how much fun Zack had when you came to visit


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Anonymous said...

Play is a very important part of life. Glad you have the ability to play, laugh and incite pandemonium.