Tag Archives: Grandpa

Soccer Grandpa ©

Sports prowess runs in our family. Way back in the mid 1800’s my great grandpa Bill financed his family’s trek across the plains to the Utah territory by winning impromptu horse races in and around Winter Quarters Iowa. Brigham Young didn’t like gambling so my great grandpa quit racing. After that great grandpa just used his fleet steeds to get away from Indians, bad guys, and Johnson’s Army during the Utah War of 1857-58.

My father worked as a blacksmith in Utah in the early 1900s. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem describes my dad:

“The smith, a mighty man is he

With large and sinewy hands.

The muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

My dad used his brawny arms to win plenty of arm wrestling matches when he was young.

My mother, wearing long skirts, and using gut-strung rackets won many tennis matches against strong male and female opponents on the dirt courts of Tooele, Utah between 1908 and 1916.

Sports prowess skipped me—unless you count twenty years of second, third and fourth place finishes in 5K and 10K road races.

On my wife, Emmaline’s side of the family, sports prowess manifests itself in fandom. Her uncle Horace attended every home baseball game the Salt Lake Bees played between 1920 and 1940, and he yelled himself hoarse at every one.

Emmaline is a serious sports fan. Once when we lived in northwest Florida, Emmaline forced me into the car to drive to Atlanta where the Kansas Jayhawks were playing in an NCAA sweet sixteen basketball tournament. The reason she had to force me into the car was that a category four hurricane was steaming ashore right behind us. The hurricane came inland on the same course we were heading. Radio stations all the way north broadcast warnings: “get off the highways,” “seek shelter, now!” We just drove on through the storm. When we finally made it to Atlanta we had to wade through ankle-deep water to get to the entrance of the field house. The

Jayhawks lost, but because I got a chance to take her picture standing beside KU’s mascot, the Baby Jayhawk, Emmaline considers that Atlanta trip a great success.

When we watch sports on television I strap a pad to my thigh because I know Emmaline will pound on it with her fist if the game is close. When we watch regular television programs the dog lies on the couch beside Emmaline. But when we watch sports events on TV, the dog hides under our bed—Emmaline’s yelling scares her.

My daughter is a cross country skier, mountain bike rider and rock climber. My son is a softball player and epee fencer.

That brings me to the current generation. My grandkids Ariel, aged seven and Gorky, aged four, play soccer on Saturdays. That makes Emmaline and me soccer grandparents. It’s wonderful! The concept of “victory, victory uber alles,” doesn’t apply to the kind of soccer they play on the kiddie fields of Letongaloosa.

Gorky plays in the Hobbit League. The players, a dozen four-year-olds, wear green or yellow tee shirts that hit them at mid thigh, or sometimes at the ankle. Each player has his or her own ball. The players run around on mini soccer fields with mini soccer nets at each end.

Ardent, happy fans stand on the sidelines yelling encouragement to all the players:

“Great going, Turner, you actually kicked the ball!”

“Marvelous Gretchen, you got up off the grass really fast!”

“Hang in there, Thompson, lying on your stomach on the ground and pulling grass is lots of fun too!”

There’s a little more structure in the seven-year-old league that Ariel plays in. During the game there is only one ball on the field at a time. Seven-year-olds focus better and are a bit more intense than the four-year-old players, but the fans are just as positive and supportive as the Hobbit League fans.

“Go Red team,” they shout. “Go Blue team.”

“Good job Amelia, you kicked the ball right out of bounds.”

When either team makes a goal, fans on both sides of the field applaud and yell “Good job!” When the games end, scores are seldom mentioned. The players all give each other high fives and then run to the sidelines to get healthful treats.

In an age when sports competition is very intense, Emmaline and I have learned a lot from being soccer grandparents.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Holiday Afterglow

When I was a boy the holidays didn’t end the day after New Year’s as they do now.    At our house the holiday season often lasted until after Ground Hog Day.  It was usually early February before Mom carefully removed the ornaments, the strings of lights, and the tinfoil icicles from our Christmas tree and swept up the pile of pine needles from the floor.

This year my wife Emmaline and I took down the outside and inside decorations, including my Christmas train, on Jan. 2.  The Christmas train is my pride and joy.

I bought it years ago in Atlanta.  I had flown down to attend a niece’s December wedding.  I arrived a day early. The women invited me to go shopping with them.  In a department store I saw a toy train running around a track.

It was a Christmas Train—Santa atop the engine. It had four cars plus a caboose.  The train had lights, and the figures moved.

Decades dropped away.  I was seven or eight years old again.  I had to have that train.  Never mind that it cost $250; never mind that the box it came in was larger than a hard sider suitcase. I took out my credit card.

Now each Christmas season, after I have inexpertly installed the outside house lights and Emmaline has expertly and creatively decorated the inside of the house, I open the box and take out my Christmas Train.

I’ve cut assembly time to two hours.  One has to put  together the track,  attach the electric gear,  hook up the cars (each car is attached to the car ahead by a little black umbilical cord that makes the figures move and the lights dance).  I’ve been known to cuss a bit as I assemble the train.

It’s a wonderful train.  One pushes the ON button.  One pushes the forward button. A voice shouts “All Aboard.”  Bells ring, a realistic train whistle blows, and the train moves around the track.  Santa goes “ho, ho, ho.”

For the first few years I had the train to myself.  Then my granddaughter came along and wanted to run the train.  Then my grandson came along and  wanted to run the train.  Then Emmaline told me to let the grandchildren help me assemble the train.

I steadfastly resisted that suggestion until Christmas 2008.  My granddaughter is now eight and my grandson is five.   Emmaline sand bagged me.  She didn’t tell me the kids were coming until they were at the front door.

When they came in Emmaline said, “You can help Grandpa put his train together.”

I said, “Okay. Okay, kids, this is a very difficult project, so watch carefully and I’ll show you how I do it.”

“Okay, Grandpa.”

Then Emmaline called me to come upstairs.  It was the kind of pre-preemptory call that I’ve learned not to ignore.

“I’ll be RIGHT BACK,” I said.  “You kids go to Grandma’s office and play computer games.  We’ll put the train together when I get back.”

After a few minutes I heard kid voices from the living room. I took four steps down the back stairs.  Emmaline ordered me, in a preemptory voice, to finish my assigned task. Several elongated minutes later I sprinted for the living room.

Halfway down the stairs I heard a robotic voice say “All Aboard!”  My heart sank.  Had the kids gotten the electrical apparatus out of the big box and plugged it in?  What harm such mischief might do to my train I could only imagine.

I charged down stairs and into the living room.

“Ding, Ding, Ding,”   “Whooo, Whooo, Whooo,”  “All Aboard,”    “Merry Christmas!” “Ho, Ho, Ho,”  “Chug, Chug, Chug.”

My train was fully assembled and running around the track.   My granddaughter was at the controls and my grandson was jumping back and forth across the track just ahead of the train.

“Grandpa, we put the train together!”

The grandkids weren’t here on Jan. 2 when I put on my engineer’s cap and ran the train around the track one last time.  Then I put it back in the box for another year.

I hope my grandkids will let me help them put the train together next December.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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