Dressed up, Hair down b I picked up my granddaughter, Kelley, from school last week and we stopped by McDonalds on the way home. I wanted some tea and since Kelley hadn’t had a chance to eat her snack, I thought I would get her a happy meal for a treat as well as a smoothie for Cyndy. We were getting back in the car when Kelley spotted a dead bird between the sidewalk and the street.

“I’m sad because I see a dead bird,” she said, and I turned around to see the bird as I opened the door.

“It is a dead bird isn’t it?”

“I’m sad when nature dies,” she said as she climbed into her car seat. “I already named that bird one time,” as I buckled her in.

I said “oh really,” as I shut the door, and walked around the car.

“I’m sad for Enchilada,” Kelley said as I got in the car and started the engine.

“Oh, yeah?”

“That’s what I named her.”

“Oh, okay.”

We pulled out of the parking lot and headed for our house. As we were nearing the train tracks that cross the road, the lights began to flash as the barriers came down. I have not counted train cars for quite some time – they do not run as often as they have in the past – but it was the first time I had waited on a train with Kelley, so it was fun – again – to count the cars. There were two engines in front, 133 cars, and three engines on the back. Kelley was counting with me until there were about eighty cars.

We hadn’t been at our house long before her dad came to pick her up. I was telling him about counting the train cars when Kelley piped in.

“I was helping him count until my mouth got tired,” she told her dad.

That is why I love being a grandfather. I enjoyed being a father, too. But as a father, I had to use those moments as teaching moments, and inject a sense of reality, to a childish degree. As a grandfather, I still have a responsibility, yet I also have the chance to indulge in the weirdness of a child’s mind – and my own.

As Hunter S. Thompson used to say – and I have a t-shirt – “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” And five year old girls – or boys for that matter – are really good at weird.

Peace be with you.

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