John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/11/2014)

There’s something about the excited cry of a three-year-old calling “Papa John !” across the yard – or the living room. I am still warmed by the memory Granddaughter Kass running from behind the house as I pulled up, singing my name over and over as she approached my vehicle.

Lately, the warm feeling has been instilled by Grandson Peter demanding similar attention. He wants help with something, or wants to show me something, or sometimes is just happy to see me appear.

He has the coolest laugh, too, especially when he’s been playing hard and it’s late and he’s grouchy and tired but doesn’t want Daddy to take him home to bed – the way kids get when they don’t want to do anything the resident adult suggests.

“You want to go home?


“You want to give Grandma a hug?”


“You want some ice cream?”

“No!” Even though that’s just about his favorite desert, next to Skittles and chocolate bars.

So on the way out the door, I tell him, “No Laughing! There will be no more laughing the rest of the night.”

And he starts to giggle enthusiastically, from someplace deep inside.

He’s a jokester, alright. One of his favorite tricks is doing the Lucy thing with a flashlight. He shines the light on the ceiling.

“Get the light,” he laughs. “It’s up theah.”

Just as you go to grab it, he snatches it away.

“I moved it,” he laughs. “Try again.”

No, I think you’ll just move it again, I complain, and head for a chair to rest my bones. Pretty soon, Peter The Laugher is in front of me, shining the flashlight.

“Get it,” he giggles. “It’s on your shirt.”

You know where that goes.

The little guy is hardly ever still. We went to see “The LEGO Movie” the other day. It’s a not very good animated Transformers-style movie done with LEGO blocks that were only suggestive of LEGO blocks. Most of the action centered around Emmet, a LEGO construction worker who can do his part to build anything as long as someone gives him the plans and directions. Imagination, in Emmet’s world, not only is not required, but is to be enthusiastically avoided.

The aforementioned three-year-old played at gymnastics on the railing. Periodically, I had to reel him in to keep him from somersaulting off the top rail. It was clear he wasn’t paying much, if any, attention to the movie.

Then we got home, and he headed straight to the LEGO stuff that was the reason Grandma thought he would like the movie. He grabbed the only LEGO construction worker he had and started flying around the house the way Emmet had flown around his imaginary world.

He flew past each person in our living room, and each time we’d go to grab him, he’d dodge away.

Apparently, the little guy had been paying more attention than was obvious at the time.

Two kids and a pile of LEGOsAnd he really loves his 11-year-old cousin, Ari. The other day it came time for her to leave and he tried to stop her. He put his arms around her legs, then stood in front of her with his arms spread.

When it became obvious his efforts were to no avail, he turned back to his LEGOs, and ignored Ari and me as we tried to say goodbye. Clearly, he was done with us.

Sometimes, he’s too darn mature.

Grandkids are life’s reward for having our own kids. Truth is, I can’t look back and find a time when I didn’t enjoy our offspring. Some people say we block out the bad spots. I’m certain grandkids are the cosmos’ way of ensuring we don’t unblock them.