Please enjoy this story of a grandpa as he helps his grandson learn an important lesson.
By Harvey Blumenthal
July, 2001, just two months before that calamitous event on 9/11 that changed American life forever, Grandma Sandy and I visited our children and grandkids in Wynnewood, a charming suburb just west of Philadelphia. Bill and Laurie lived on Overbrook Parkway, a couple blocks from a pocket of small commercial businesses at Manoa and Haverford Roads.
One morning, while four-year-old Stevie was at camp, I took two-year-old Ben for a walk, pulling him in a blue wagon. Soon, he climbed out and wanted me to get in the wagon so he could pull me, but then he tripped on the uneven sidewalk and skinned his hand. I applied pressure with my handkerchief, and at home I washed the wound and applied a Band-Aid.
After picking up Stevie at camp I took the two boys in the double stroller for a walk. We stopped in Howard’s Pharmacy on Manoa where Carol, the fountain clerk, recognized the boys and called them by name. We ordered a strawberry milkshake to share and Carol gave Stevie a cup to hold his pine cone that we had picked up along the way. Just then, a teenage girl came in for a large twisted pretzel, which Carol heated up for her. Upon seeing this Stevie wanted a pretzel, but he wasn’t drinking his milkshake and I said, no, you can get a pretzel next time. Stevie became angry, cried at being denied, and while seated on the fountain stool he began to kick me standing next to him. I slapped his leg with each kick and told him, “If you kick people, they will kick back.” His tears flowed and he told me he didn’t like me and, “You’re not a good grandpa!”
“If you kick people, they will kick back.”
Carol and the teenager, smiling, glanced at each other, obviously curious to see how Grandpa would handle this conflict. As I dried Stevie’s tears with my handkerchief he noticed the blood on the hanky from Ben’s hand that morning. The impasse spontaneously resolved while I told Stevie what had happened to Ben, and we simply moved on from the pretzel.
Sometimes just being calm and patient, and moving on casually and naturally to a binding or re-engaging experience, while always expressing a loving attitude, will defuse a tense situation.
About the Author
Harvey Blumenthal is a retired physician in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has published many essays and memoirs. He served two years (1970-72) active duty as a Navy physician during the Vietnam War.