Recharging my batteries with my grandson
I jumped in the shower after submitting my newspaper column. It was as if my body craved a cleansing after spending days wading through the muck and wreckage of today’s Republican politics. Reviewing the record of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and the dreary election ahead between the two most unpopular candidates in history could make anyone want to wash away the memory. One dismal poll showed a majority of voters on both sides were motivated more about voting against the other candidate than supporting their own. I let those thoughts trickle down the drain with the last of the water and quickly toweled off and dressed.
No more politics this day. Today I was picking up my 11 year old grandson Kawika (Vika) from school to help him work on a science project. I’d choose time with my grandson over politics any day.
With Vika’s dad in Afghanistan and his older sister Lauryn away in the army I know his mother has her hands full with him. This past Sunday Vika and I made a reminder poster that focused on the ABCD’s. A is for academics. He’s to do his homework when he gets home. B is for books. He needs to read every day. C is for chores. Whether its dishes, trash or cleaning his room, he has to do what his mom tells him to do. And after accomplishing these things, he can move on to D. D is for down time where he can play video games, watch TV or use his tablet.
I picked him up from school and we headed for the grocery store. I wanted to get the ingredients to make Spam fried rice. As we walked into the store I told Vika about how I used to take his sister shopping when she was five and how she’d ride on the back of the shopping carts as I pushed it. He smiled wistfully and said, “Yeah, I remember you doing that.”
“Dude, you do realize that was three years before you were born, right?”
“You’re right. I don’t remember that,” he deadpanned.
Now Vika has always been somewhat aloof in grocery stores, entertaining himself with silly improvised dances, spinning around and around like a top and other gyrations from a kid who’d rather be combing the toy aisles scouting WWE toys than trying to locate Rotini pasta for his grandfather. When one of his dances grew out of control, I snapped, “Pay attention!”
And then ran my shopping cart into a steel column in the middle of the aisle. BANG! It scared the crap out of me. Who puts a column in the middle of an aisle?
Vika was laughing so hard he could hardly breathe, wheezing out, “Pay attention! Bang! Pay attention! Bang!” I couldn’t help but laugh too.
I bought my groceries and we headed home.
On the way home we were stopped at a red light when a young girl who looked a couple years older than Vika walked by in the crosswalk. She’d poured too much rear into too little jeans and if she were my daughter there’s no way she would’ve left the house with that much eye makeup. (Am I really saying this? Next thing you know I’ll be screaming at kids to stay off my lawn!) The girl kept glancing at Vika as she walked by. .
“Hey man, you see how she was lookin; at you? You want me to pull over next to her so you can holla at her?” I offered.
“No. That’s disgusting!” Vika protested, still too young to show an interest in girls. Then he added a line that I didn’t see coming and had me rolling.
Once home we talked about his science project and worked on writing the material that will go with the photos of his experiment. We talked about how a scientific experiment was like a recipe. I told him it’s not enough to know that a cake requires flour, sugar, milk and eggs. You need to know how much of each to add. Then you could always add or subtract different things, variables, to change the outcome. Then I invited him to help me make the Spam fried rice. He helped chop up the ingredients, whisked the eggs and poured them into a hot frying pan.
Then as I cooked I had him read a short story on my iPad called “Udder Nonsense.” He read it, laughed and thought it was crazy. I told him it was written by one of my favorite authors.’
“Who? Roald Dahl?”Vika asked.
I was impressed that this grandson of mine, who’d much rather play Xbox or watch YouTube videos than crack a book, would be familiar with the author of “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
I proudly pointed to myself with the spoon I was using to stir the Spam.
“You wrote that?”
“Yes. A long while ago. It’s in my first book.”
Not all of my stories are kid friendly but I thought giving him stories to read that I wrote could spark his interest. After all, I use to write crazy short stories for his sister and she loved them. This is just one more way I can connect with my grandson.
And then he threw me for a loop.
“Poppa Jon, do you believe in the multiverse?”
I did a double take. In recent years I’d developed an interest in physics, astrophysics and astronomy, reading books by Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, Robert Lanza and Neil deGrasse Tyson among others. The multiverse is a hypothetical set of infinite universes that include this one. Some theoretical physicists postulate that, based on quantum mechanics, there are infinite alternate universes in which different versions of you exist in which you made different life choices. While it may sound outlandish to someone hearing it for the first time, some things we already know as fact about quantum mechanics seem impossible.
Our ensuing discussion prompted Vika to pull his science book out of his backpack and we talked about the planets, the Mars rover and space travel.
Finally, he packed up for me to drive him home. I gave him some fried rice in a plastic container to take with him. We got into the car and talked about the importance of him doing his A,B,C’s so he can enjoy D-down time. He assured me that he would do well this week and I’m certain he will because he knows “Captain America: Civil War” is opening this weekend and he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize him seeing it.
It was a good day. He ended up helping me as much as I helped him. I can see him growing up before my eyes, getting smarter and more inquisitive and yes, testing the boundaries like kids do. His mom has the real heavy lifting to do when it comes to Kawika but it’s important that I do whatever I can to help him grow up to be a responsible, productive, mature young man.
We put our seat belts on in the car. And once I was sure he was situated and strapped in, I opened fire with a squirt gun. He never saw it coming.