© Herald photo by Ed Olfert
Jordan (left) and Josh pose on the little ATV. The boys had much to teach opa during a recent visit.
Holly was away this past weekend. Pathetically, I invited myself to my son’s home. On short notice. In the late afternoon. These are precisely the things that drive Holly to madness.
I arrived to find the boys, Jordan and Josh, admiring dad’s Kenworth on the driveway. They informed me that they had just helped him wash it. Now he was installing a bunk bed in their bedroom, and it was a terribly exciting day.
Jordan also led me to the little ATV. It too had just been washed and was a little reluctant to start. A few yanks on the rope by opa failed to prod it to life, so dad appeared again with a screw driver, fiddled on the carburetor, pulled a few more times, and it sputtered to life. Jordan, five, pulled on his helmet and roared off into a nearby field. I suspect that dad hasn’t told him about second or third gear yet, but he’ll figure it out.
Josh, two, meanwhile now had my complete attention and led me into the garage. There, mom’s bike, brother’s bike, Josh’s trike, dad’s truck, and a whole host of other important implements were pointed out and discussed. We then wandered into the back yard where we could observe “brother” cruising in the hay field. After commenting on a corner of the yard that held a plethora of dog poop, we opened a gate and wandered out to join Jordan. I took note that there’s a certain fiercely determined visage that seems to be required for ATV driving, but that fierceness is given the lie just a little by the beaming grin peeking through.
As Jordan roared around us, Josh and I continued on our walk across the field. Ahead of us lay a huge mound of dirt, higher than a house, the remnant of some past construction project. Josh was determined to climb it.
“Opa, will you hold my hand?” Up we went, slipping and scrabbling. As we approached the peak, the thought formed that by next summer, Jordan’s ATV would be up here as well, causing mom no end of panic. Josh and I held hands again on the way down.
On our way back to the yard, Jordan’s circuits came closer and closer to us. I stopped him, asked him to keep a little more distance. It didn’t happen again.
Back at the house, both boys insisted that I come to the bedroom where the new bunk bed had been assembled. Jordan flew up and down the ladder, considered jumping from the top, decided against it. That jump will happen within a week, I’m guessing.
“Opa, sit down and play with us. You can be the tractor driver!” Boys jumped over me, around me, toys whizzed past, six conversations happened at once.
As I pulled myself to my feet, Jordan was suddenly close, put his arms around my leg. “I love you, dad!” He looked up, grinned shyly, and corrected himself, “I love you, opa!”
Mom meanwhile had creatively made supper appear, (enough for everyone!) and the vortex of energy was herded in the dining room direction. Supper was delicious, which the boys acknowledged but still it proved a struggle to harness their energy for those few moments. (“Josh, don’t stick your arm in that water bottle, it’ll get stuck in there again,” said with a sigh.)
After supper, Jordan bounced on my lap, while Josh danced on his chair. Of course, he missed a step and crashed to the floor. He was soon wailing in his mom’s arms. Jordan bounced once more, this time to the floor as well, disappeared down the hall, returned with Josh’s blanket and teddy bear. Into “brother’s” arms, and onto my lap once more, chattering and bouncing.
The next day would be mom’s birthday, and as mom and I visited at the table, dad and his boys began the undertaking of building a cake. Between arguing over who got to stand on the stool and stir the batter, arguing with mom about which bowl to use, it somehow happened, and as I left, two boys were peering into the oven window, mere seconds after dad had set it in, to watch the cake bake.
I don’t know how you express faith, or the lack thereof. It doesn’t really make much difference. But I suggest you cannot have anything close to the experience described here, without feeling hope. Human kind, when invited to grow in good places, when nurtured with holy love and affirmation, will grow in good directions, assuring us all of a future that includes brightness.
In a recent column I described being somewhat in awe of the responsibility to tell important stories to those who come after, stories that remind the little ones of who they are, why that is good.
Today I suggest that just as much, those hopeful and important stories come from the innocence, the impudence, the energy, the creativity, the honesty, and the compassion of little ones, living and loving well, and reminding the big ones where they belong.
As I left, I told Jordan that he would have to load the ATV in dad’s truck and bring it to our house, to explore a new yard. He looked into my face eagerly, “Yeah, and then you can start your ATV!”
I told him it hadn’t run for a few years, but I was pretty sure we could get it going. Jordan (remember, five) looked at me sagely, and advised, “Yeah, it’ll probably need fresh gas.”