Last week I found myself baby-sitting for my two youngest grandsons in a doctor’s waiting room in Dayton. Such duties are one of the benefits retired grandparents get.
The waiting room was very small to contain an almost 5-year-old named Scotty and a just turned 3-year-old named Jeffrey, along with a varied group of adults who already looked as bored as I knew the boys would soon be.
Since they slept most of the way to the city, the boys were ready for some action. They eyed another little boy who was quietly waiting with his mother. Jeffrey asked, “Can we play with him?”
Not knowing whether the boy or the mother was the patient, I suggested, “Maybe you should ask his mommy.”
With his big blue eyes and his biggest smile Jeffrey approached the mommy. “Can your little brother play with us?”
Before the mommy could answer, the little boy spoke up, “If you want to play with me why don’t you ask me?”
“Okay!” Scott and Jeff agreed.
Introductions were made all around by the boys. The new one was Derrick, age 4.
“What do you want to play? asked Scotty. “How about construction guys?” This was fine with Jeffrey who usually agrees with his older brother in public.
“No,” Derrick suggested, “Let’s play Stealing Food.”
His mom just kept right on reading, but he sure got my attention, and my daughter’s too. She reached into her purse and pulled out the boys’ treat bags. She offered Derrick a graham cracker which he ate quickly and happily while Jeffrey scowled and noted “That was the last one.”
“We have more at home, and Derrick was hungry,” she explained. Jeffrey accepted her explanation.
I don’t think I agreed with her charitable interpretation of Derrick’s game choice. I noticed both he and his mother were very well dressed and he had a good vocabulary and imagination for a 4-year-old. I thought maybe he was a kleptomaniac-in-training. As my daughter disappeared into the doctor’s inner sanctum, the noise level of the boys’ play increased. I glanced around at the waiting patients, but they were either oblivious to the boys’ noise or enjoying it.
I turned to see what they were doing and saw Jeffrey crawling across the floor. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“Scotty said I’m Scooby Do,” Jeff explained as he lowered his mouth to the carpet and said, “I’m going to eat my doggy dinner now.”
I got Scotty’s attention and said, “Tell Jeff to be something that doesn’t crawl on the floor.”
They all crawled under some chairs in an unoccupied area to play “explore secret tunnels.”
I told them if it was a secret they had to whisper. So, they did, for a brief while.
Then Derrick went with his mom to see the doctor, and I gathered my boys for a story time. They told me the stories. I don’t know who enjoyed them the most, the boys, me, or the other waiting patients.
When Derrick joined us again a little later, he greeted another lady who had come in, “Hi, Grandma!”
They hugged, then Derrick turned to Scotty and Jeff and said, “Now let’s play “Steal Food!”
The look on Derrick’s Grandma’s face made me wish I could hear Derrick’ s mom explain that game to her mother, or maybe it was her mother-in-law.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Feb. 16, 2000.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.