Help! I’m Taking Care of a Six Year Old!
by Dan Vander Ark
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About a month ago I asked my daughter if it would be ok if I took Noah with me back to my mom’s for the weekend (about a 200 mile trip to her lake home in western Minnesota).
I am 53.
My grandson is 6.
“Sure,” she said, “He would like that.”
I picked him up at about 10:00 AM on Friday and promised to have him back at about 4:00 PM on Sunday. That’s about 54 hours; I figured I ought to be able to survive that.
Before I left my wife gave me some very explicit instructions. Like, “Make sure you don’t lose Noah!” And “If he’s down by the water make sure he has his lifejacket on!” And this, “Make sure you put plenty of sunscreen on him.” And this reminder, “Make sure you feed him!” Now like I’m gonna forget that. And finally this, “Remember, he’s a six year old!”
We made the trip there in about 5 hours. Noah brought along his portable DVD player. Wow, are those cool…it’s like having a Nanny riding along with you. As I was driving my S-10 Pickup, he pretty much just watched a couple of movies on the way there. When I glanced at him watching the video I began to wonder. I wondered how, when our kids were young, we ever made it across the Dakotas in the old 63 Plymo Limo Belvedere with no radio, no tape player, no seat belts, no air conditioning, no air bags and a steel dashboard.
Anyway, back to the trip.
When we got there Friday the weather was a little cool but I took him for a ride on my brother’s jet ski. I cranked the throttle wide open on a calm portion of the lake and we were suddenly thrust backward with about 4G’s of force. Noah hollered, “Wow! That’s why they call it a JET ski!”
A long time ago Charles Dickens wrote a novel titled “A Tale of Two Cities.” He began the novel by saying, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That summed up Saturday.
About 11:00 we went to play miniature golf and then we went go-carting. That was the best of times.
Around 2:00 Noah began to get sick, he slept a couple of hours and then got really sick about 5:00. That was the worst of times.
About 7:00 he began feeling better and we went for a long jet ski ride. It was a gorgeous evening. That was the best of times.
After the jet ski ride he fished for a few minutes off the end of the dock. He was dressed in shorts, sandals, t-shirt, sweatshirt and a lifejacket. When he went to get the worms and bring them to me he fell off the dock and was soaked. That was the worst of times.
I dried him off, had him put his pajamas on and got him a bowl of ice-cream. That was the best of times.
When I came back into the bedroom I couldn’t figure out why there was a white flakey substance all over the bed. And in his hair. The ceiling slopes in that bedroom, and yep, you figured it out. He started jumping on the bed and must have smacked his head pretty hard against the ceiling to knock loose all that white ceiling texture. I asked him if it hurt. He said, “Yep Grampa, it did.” That was the worst of times.
He played some computer games on my laptop and then we went to bed. That was the best of times.
The next day we left my mom’s about 11:00 and made it back in plenty of time
I thought about the checklist my wife had given me:
#1...Don’t lose Noah! Mission accomplished.
#2...Make sure he has his lifejacket on! Mission accomplished. And good thing – when he fell off the dock he floated just like the styrofoam container the worms were in.
#3...Put plenty of sunscreen on him! Mission accomplished.
#4...Make sure you feed him! Mission accomplished. My mom’s cooking, especially her pancakes, did the trick.
#5...Remember he’s a six year old. I remembered.
I also remembered I’m 53.
Note to self: to prepare yourself for next year’s adventure, first…go through Navy Seals Training.
Dan Vander Ark
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