Sunday, June 5, 2016

Grandpa's diary: Payback time

Our oldest son, Ben, calls every Sunday, the only time we get to talk with him all week. He works long hours and, on those weekends he doesn’t have to go into the office, is kept busy with his two sons, 26-month old Teddy and two-month old Isaac.

During this morning’s call I asked him how Teddy, who was basically ignoring Isaac when I visited last month – as if he somehow hoped that Isaac, like grandpa, had just stopped by for a visit – is interacting with his new brother.

He said that yesterday he, his wife and the boys went to Costco. En route home, with both boys strapped into their infant seats, Isaac, who apparently likes the motion of the car, started crying whenever the car stopped, prompting Teddy to order him to be quiet. This went on for the entire ride from the suburbs back into the city, with both Isaac and Teddy becoming more agitated and more vocal at each stoplight.

I can’t tell you how happy this news made me. For years, our sons, who were three years apart, made every car trip – whether to the supermarket or cross country – approximately as pleasurable as the Bataan death march. They argued, they hurled accusations, they cried, they whined. The one that never failed to make me pull over, stop the car, jump out of the driver’s seat, yank open the back door and order them to settle down or else: “Make him stop looking at me.” Whenever I'd lose it, my wife would also lose it, yelling at me to act like a grown-up, then we'd all sulk for the remainder of the ride. This went on for years (and years and years) and, even today, now that the boys are 33 and 30, I don’t like to ride in the same car with both of them lest they start up again.

“Better get used to it,” I told Ben, not even trying to disguise my delight. “Payback time.”