Energy for experience — not a fair trade

David Lindeman - Contributing Columnist

There’s something to be said about having children when you’re young and basically ignorant.

You might wonder why I am thinking about this now that I am pushing 60 and my children moved out of the house long ago. Well, it’s called grandchildren. They tend to remind you of things you thought you had put in your past.

My two grandchildren recently came to town for a couple of weeks. The boy is 3 years old. The girl is 1 year old. It’s been a long time since children that age lived in my house.

I am a lot older and wiser now. The problem is, I have traded in a lot of energy and a lot of reaction time for just a little bit of experience. I don’t think that is a fair trade when it comes to keeping an eye on small children.

Back when my wife and I were young and not only our kids but half the neighborhood also was running around or through our house, we were pretty quick. We could anticipate the next disaster. We could move quickly and could keep our surveillance going for long stretches of time.

Now we are older and we know what might happen, but sometimes we’re just can’t get out of the chair fast enough to prevent it. It’s kind of like a 60-year-old guy playing basketball — your brain says “move” but your body is on a time delay.

So my grandchildren showed up ready for action. The one-year-old is just starting to walk, but she crawls at the speed of light. Look away for a minute and she has the cat cornered or reaching for something breakable. We really needed to put a GPS on her. We constructed roadblocks out of Rubbermaid containers filled with toys we saved from our children to keep her contained to certain rooms. Fortunately, she is about as good natured as human beings come, so she takes all this in stride.

Her brother is a little tougher number.

From the moment his eyes open in the morning until they close at night, he is thinking of two things: “play” and “food.” This is pretty much the same approach to life his two uncles had many years ago, so I wasn’t surprised.

He is particularly enthralled with Nerf guns, balls of any kind, cars and now that he is three, Legos. He’s not so much at building things with Legos yet, but he is a professional at knocking things down. It only takes seconds for him to knock things down, but it sure takes us a long time to clean them up.

Then there are the surprises. I wonder what prompts him all the sudden to jump up, act like he’s an airplane, start running around the room while saying, “Mosquito on the starboard bow! Fire!”

I get exhausted just watching him move around, which only happens part of the time because most of the time he wants me to be part of the action. How you can you turn a three-year-old down, even if you are hyperventilating? Especially when he runs around you and says, “Come on Bapa, save the day!” I don’t know how to save the day for him but I always give it my best try.

There is one other thing I should mention: it’s not all constant movement. He also loves books. At times, he’ll sit down and pull out a half dozen books and, one after the other, say “read this one.” It reminds me of reading books to my children many years ago. Sometimes we would all fall asleep together. Sometimes I would try to skip a page or two and my daughter would grab my hand and say, “you missed a page.” I get some consolation from the fact that her son is now doing the same thing to her.

My grandson has some of the books virtually memorized. I start the lines, he finishes them. I wonder if he realizes it might not be all that long before he has to read books to me.

The two-week visit went quickly. Before we knew it, they were back on the plane, heading home. My wife and I came home from the airport, put away the Rubbermaid barriers, put plants and various other objects back on tables from which they had been moved so they could survive a visit from a 1 year old, cleaned up the basement and then came to a realization: it sure was quiet in our house. Blissfully quiet, at least for a while. Once we recover, we’ll be looking forward to another visit so our grandchildren can save the day.

David Lindeman

Contributing Columnist

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at