UPPER NYACK, N.Y. -- Babysitting two grandchildren, one half way to 5 and the other galloping toward 3 means an old codger like me has to be on his toes, literally, in order to survive. There are more questions, emotional turns, spats, hunger moments and funny faces than grown-ups are used to. So, the survival answer is to not be so adult, to join the crowd.
Which is what I did last Thanksgiving weekend, with Sam and Beatrice jumping all over me, the couch and each other. There is never a dull moment since kids do, indeed, say the darndest things. They also have sharp minds, recalling the mistakes you made last time you babysat. And their questions are so simple and direct that you wonder why the gods allow children to become adults. Perhaps our business and government decisions would be far less troubled if there was the young’s directness and clarity.
Children are also more trusting for they have not yet been let down. Beatrice, for example, likes to pretend that every small scrap she gets from rough-housing or other play requires a Band-Aid. And she knows where to get one when I am around since this not-always-watchful handyman carries them for my own cuts. After I once took a Band-Aid out of my pocket to stop her tears, she figured it was filled with all manner of items.
So, she is apt to come to me and ask, “Do you have a flashlight in your pocket? “Or a Gummy Bear?” “Or an iPad?’
Anticipating her needs, I have added things to my pocket, which I must remember to remove when I fly to Texas in a few weeks or the frown of Homeland Security will not see the humor.
The pity is that as the young get older and become us -- mature, ever-so-wise, know-it-all adults -- they stop asking what's in the Magic Pocket.
Therein lies the ruin of civilization.