Thursday, October 27, 2016

187 Reasons Why Folks My Age...

...should NOT have babies.  Unless, of course, they can afford a full time nanny.

My lovely wife and I each turned 62 this year.  She turned a little before I did, which means she's older than me.  A fact I like to bring up now and then when the moment is right.  I have already lamented about Gettin Old, which can be found there.  But besides the usual bothersome and often annoying situations and occurrences that accompany folks as they reach riper maturation, we have uncovered another arena where older folks really have no business.

We recently hosted our three Grandchildren for a 48 hour weekend while our daughter and son-in-law celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.  During this time we reached the conclusion folks our age should not have babies.  I'd like to say there are 187 reasons, but there was really only one.  And that would be a two year old.

We have been blessed with the most incredible grand kids one could ever hope to imagine.  I'm sure you've never heard that before, but it's true.  Our ten-year-old grandson and seven-year-old grand daughter are the best ever.  They have your typical sibling skirmishes, but, for the most part, they get along pretty great.

Since they are city mice living in Oakland, CA it's really great for them to get on out and run amok on a couple acres in the country.  We have actually hosted them the last couple years for an entire week while they attended a local summer camp.  We always have a wonderful time when their pesky parents aren't around.

Enter the two-year-old blond, crystal clear blue-eyed atomic bomb.  And this is a great kid.  He went to bed at 7:30 both nights without much fuss.  He also took a nap both days from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.  He actually slept until 4:00 the first day because we worked him real hard at a local park.  But I'll tell you what.  If mankind could find a way to harness the output of this kid we'd have the whole energy thing whipped.  Talk about alternative energy.  A room full of two year old's simply doing what they do could easily light up a city block.

As I write this essay I am reminded of our grandson when he was two.  I think we were living in Portland at the time.  It was around 7:00 PM and the three adults present, me included, were splayed out on the living room sofas, completely zoned out.  It looked and felt like we had been drinking alcohol and tooting Peruvian Problem Solving Powder for three days straight.  And we had just run out.  And nobody had the gumption to go to the liquor store or meet Rico, the dealer.  So we stared into oblivion.
Since it had been over twenty years since any of us had partaken of said mind and body bending substances, what on earth could have sent us into near comas?  And then, just like the pink energizer bunny banging that damn drum, our two-year-old grandson waltzed by.

48 HOURS.  2:00 PM Friday until 2:00 PM Sunday.

We were as prepared as Grandparents can be. We were motivated.  We were energized.  We got lots of sleep the night before.  We also made sure there were lots of goodies available.  You know, bribery gets you everywhere.

After a pancake breakfast on Saturday, the two older kids set out to help their old Big-Pa on their upcoming Tree Chalet.

The tree chalet has been in the planning stages since we moved here six years ago.  Homeboy, the previous owner, the guy I continually love to deride, sorta had built some sort of concoction up in them thar trees.  Or maybe his ten year old kid did.  By the time we got on the scene it was pretty dilapidated and not fit for anyone's consumption.

Our Grandson has wanted to get up there for years, but I deemed it unsafe.  Old battered, creaky wood.  Disconnected, rusty nails.  Fifteen foot fall to the ground.  Nope.  Not on my watch.  So I made him a deal. We'd begin on the tree chalet when he turned nine, because then he could play too.  He turned nine in August, so the next time they were up we began planning our assault.

Rather than do the tear down from ladders, which is always risky, especially on a slope, we decided to build the main platform first.  Since there is another oak fairly close to the two above I wanted to incorporate that into the mix.  But when we played out the joists my Grandson and I determined it was going to be too narrow at the one end.  This required me to sink a 4x4 post to widen it, and, just for structural support and good measure I added two more along the nine foot run.

The posts were put in by this scrappy 62 year old a week before so that we'd be ready to go.  Hauling the 10 and 12 foot 4x4's halfway up our hill and digging the two foot deep holes was the easy part.  Gettin the concrete up was another thing.  I had to bust the eighty pound bags into two to get 'em up.  And that was still a workout.

I'll tell you what.  Wanna save money on gym fees?  Buy a house in the country.  Bonus points if it's on a hill.

We began our Saturday assault by hauling assorted lengths of 2x6 redwood up the hill.  These pieces were saved from the old deck we replaced last year.  Some of that had dry rotted, but at least 70% was still in good, tree chalet shape. 

We bolted the joists to the trees and posts and then began putting up the decking.  I was on the ground cutting to fit while my Grandson was up top, screwing in the deck with a power drill.  He was a champ!

We worked for a couple hours each day and are almost finished with main platform.  Once that is complete and rails are up we will have a solid, elevated platform on which to begin demolition of the old structure.  Once that is done we'll begin work on an updated version of that crow's nest.  There may be a third level as well.  And a zip line.  Slide.  Rope swing.  Elevator.  We got plans.

After we played with the chalet on Saturday, we went to a local park to work the two year old.  My lovely wife pretty much had him most of the morning while the other two and I played.  She was ready for assistance, cause, like, a two year old is NON STOP.  And unfortunately, that energy and innocence comes with the potential for injury because dangerous is no where near his capacity.  Plus he can make a monumental, calamitous mess within SECONDS.  I know of this firsthand.  Several times.

Want a soda pop on the kitchen floor?  Easy.

Can of nails all over the garage floor?  Piece of cake.  That child is a one team demolition derby.

Sunday was much of the same, although when we were finished working on the chalet we had relaxing time watching football.  If you can call it that.  Football was on in the background, our two year old was on in the everywhere.  Constant.  Sometimes I could steal a few seconds to check my fantasy football scores, but other than that it was constant.

I'm sure it was that way with our own kids.  But if it was, I don't recall it sapping every ounce of energy I could muster.  Oh yeah, I was in my twenties back then.  Without a doubt, with this two year old as my witness, there is a BIG difference in energy levels between your twenties and your sixties.  I don't care who you are or what you're ingesting.

I made a couple other observations that I don't seem to recall from our own kid's childhood.  Maybe I purposefully forgot about them or maybe they simply vanished into that warm realm of overall familial child rearing experience.

When I did the laundry, somehow, someway, all of the kid's clothes were inside out.  Our clothes and the towels weren't, their clothes were.  Every single item.  That happens some of the time of course, but all of them?  It was as if they took the time to do it on purpose.

Saturday night I cleaned the kitchen floor while my lovely wife bathed the troops.  I think I swept up enough crumbs to feed Haiti for a day.  Not that we ate a ton of food.  It's just that most of it apparently ended up on the floor.

Saturday night, when my lovely wife and I were splayed out on the sofa, exhausted, I made the observation that our oldest Grandson was moving some part of his body every single second.  It was amazing.  My body couldn't move even if I wanted it to and here this kid was in constant motion.

I bet him a buck he couldn't sit still for a minute.  I found out he could.  For a buck.

He wanted to go double or nothing.  I declined.  What a mercenary.

And after they were gone, and the house was quiet and empty, and the absence of their delightful, busy, effervescent spirits could be felt everywhere, I noticed the once white banister leading upstairs.

It looked like a coal miner had lived in the house for a decade.

Nothing a little rag and old man energy couldn't cure.

Worth it every time.