What Lovely Grandchildren!

25 Mar

What Lovely Grandchildren!
by L. Stewart Marsden

My youngest is perched in the kid’s seat of a grocery cart as I turn down the checkout lane. Her older sister is hooked onto the front of the cart, hanging on and leaning back, making the already wobbly wheels wobblier. When it’s our turn, the checkout woman looks us over, smiles kindly and says,

“What lovely grandchildren!”

The three of us grin, and I smile kindly in return, “Yes, they are lovely, thank you, but they’re not my grandchildren.”

A couple of blinks on the checkout woman’s part, and then a slow reddening of her cheeks, and she quickly returns to her duties of scanning our fare.

That used to bother me just a few years ago. That was when I was a tad thinner, my hair a shade darker, and only a mustache adorning my lip. I’d ha-rumph with my answer, look a bit more sternly in return, while the kids, younger, didn’t even notice the interchange.

Now I’m a bit more portly, have a full beard of white, and am accustomed to it.

In their awkwardness, some of the checkout women* (the checkout men never make comments like that of any kind) will add,

“Well, they keep you young, don’t they?”

(See, this is where Ponce de Leon went wrong. He shoulda just had a bunch of kids when he was 50 years old! He’d still be with us!)

“I wish that were so,” I generally respond, feeling older by the second.

It’s the unspoken remarks that I pick up on:

“Better you than me!”

“Still haven’t figured it out where babies come from, have you?”

“Have you tried abstinence?”

“Hope you make it to their graduation!”

Ouch!

Maybe the best thing I could do in these situations, both for the sake of the checkout woman and for my sense of okayness, is to say,

“Thank you!” . . .

. . . and roll my groceries out of the store. Save that person from a moment of awkwardness. Keep her in the dark regarding some of the realities of life. Let the next “grandfather” respond to the intended kindness with truth.

Yeah. I like that.

That’s a plan.

Next time, for sure.

Which won’t be long.

“C’mon, lovely grandchildren, let’s go home.”

*It’s the over 40 women most inclined to make the comments. The younger ones, and especially the really young ones, are savvy. Maybe because their dads are really old, too!

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