The Sword and the Diaper

“Wah-SHAWWWW!” He cries, waving the plastic sword at me menacingly, a gleam in his eyes and his sagging diaper threatening to fall at any minute. He attacks with full, fierce force. I jump back, the blade barely missing slicing me in half.

Having driven me off, he slides the sword into its invisible scabbard, the tight space between his diaper and his hips. His belly bulges forward as he struggles to find the narrow opening, but he’s gotten efficient at it in the past 3 days. He narrowly escapes slicing the tab in two (much more difficult with plastic, but still doable!), and turns his focus on adjusting his knight’s helmet.

“LUKE, I AM NOT YOUR FAHD-DUH!”  I intone in my deepest Darth Vader voice. Ignoring me, he races off to run the gauntlet around the kitchen island. But before he gets there, he turns to face me, wiggles his hips back and forth, and sings out his challenge: “You can’t get me, nanny-nanny-yellow!” Waiting for me to respond, he tries to evaluate whether I’ll come at once or whether he’ll have to dare me again. I stalk toward him like the monster he envisions, and he waits till the absolute last second, then turns to flee as I snatch him off the floor and start devouring his back, snorting and snuffling, all the time him squealing with glee.

Later, I’ll be Big Bear, threatening to eat up Little Bear, or protecting him by covering him and warding off wolves and mountain lions, or smearing him with magic water to make him invisible, leaving only a sword and a diaper hanging in thin air.

The joys of a 3-year-old and grandparenting! Such is life with my grandson, every day a new adventure—except when it’s not. When there’s a continuing fever and coughing and hacking. When there’s nothing obvious but he’s so cranky he’s unbearable. Still, I wouldn’t trade it.

I get to see the world through his eyes, and I realize I must have seen it before over a half-century ago. How did I lose it? How did I forget? It’s like being a child all over again!

And I get to be a father all over again too. The things I missed out on with my own kids, the times I was too busy or distracted, or just plain too wrapped up in myself—I get to do an extreme makeover, a do-over.

Not to forget grandfathering with fresh eyes. I have a granddaughter who’s about to turn 19, so I’ve been here before. How did I miss so much then? I can remember holding her in the hospital, newly born and so small and fragile, and understanding why grandparents were crazy and acted so loony over their grandkids.

But somehow in the long journey from these foreign lands to here, I’d forgotten these things. Life got too frantic, pressed in too hard, demanded too much. And I gave it willingly, unknowingly, cluelessly unaware that I was losing my soul.

Maybe I never had it to begin with. Maybe it was taken captive by some monster when I was a child, and here’s my chance to reclaim the treasure.

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