“I turned into a short-order cook,” my Mom commented to me about her grandsons. “They’re acting like they’re famished.”
So she doled out yogurt and pretzels and raisins and her signature “happy face” American cheese to her four grandsons, 6, 4, nearly 3, and 2, around her kitchen table. The fact that the time was late morning and the boys recently ate breakfast was neither here nor there. Of all her grandchildren, five were at our house while their mothers scoured the city for garage sales with the youngest of their collection of kids.
Racket from the always-on-the-move boys and now mobile baby girl too, cascades throughout the house or lawn whenever they frequently visit. The 2 boy cousins 8 months apart, with red and yellow bandanas tied around their necks, dashed around the house and pretended to be superheroes.
“Tiger,” Max the younger of the 2 said later as he named an animal-shaped plastic paper clip stored in a long narrow box in my top right desk drawer.
Little Max never tires of following his usual ritual of shutting my bedroom door once the two of us are inside. He either climbs onto my bed to sing Barney songs into the fan or sits on my lap to open desk drawers and get stickers or the measuring tape or other objects that attract his attention.
“That’s a lion,” I replied.
“Tiger,” he insisted, so I gave in. Close enough.
Unfolding the bustling scene a few minutes earlier reveals this: Grandpa playing catch on the lawn with his eldest grandson and Grandma watching the other boys playing outside, after putting the baby down for a nap in her car seat in the spare bedroom. The 4-year-old stands in the garage while apparently deciding his next move. His little brother, not surprisingly, is perched on his favorite thing, Grandpa’s tractor, in the corner of the garage.
“Hey hey hey,” Max called. “Hey hey Grandma! Hey hey hey hey!”
The garage door remained open so bikes, scooters, bats, balls and other playthings could be taken in and out. Max, 2, scurried around the garage in search of nothing in particular and a few times ran to the lawn where his oldest cousin threw a ball with his former fast pitch catcher Grandpa. I sat in a folding chair near the boys.
“Hey hey,” the constant shouting went on. “Hey hey hey hey!”
The 4-year-old shot a haughty look downward to his yelling younger cousin. Then he tried – the operative word is “tried” – to deliver an infamous quote told to many youngsters guilty of incessant repetition of the three-letter word.
“Hay is for cows.”