Friday, October 19, 2018

"Long-Shot Contender"

Dr. M is scheduled to babysit the grandchildren.  But an earlier three-hour dental-implant appointment knocks her unhappily out of the box.

No one else is available.

A coveted “Night Out” is precariously on the line.

(I like how this is building, don’t you?)

Dr. M reluctantly makes the call. 

“I can’t do it.”   

Rachel compassionately understands.  

With husband Tim otherwise engaged, the indicating signals say, “Cancel.”  There is no one to babysit the boys – Milo, hurtling towards seven, Jack, a dervishing four-and-a-half.  

Suddenly, a familiar voice calls out,

“I’ll do it.”

(Less “familiar” to volunteering, but identifiable in “Voice.”)

“Pappy” Pomerantz has offered to step up, and step in.

I really liked what I heard, especially how “what I heard” sounded out loud.  This was no tentative “I’ll do it”, a sighing surrender to practical necessity.  There was a confident certainty to the announcement:

Childcare for two pin-balling tornados.  

From a man who had never

Babysat them before.  

The immediate reaction to my generous proposal?


Well, Dr. M’s answer was “No!”, “Momma Raquel” choosing the more circuitous,

“Are you sure you wantto?”

With my magnanimous proposal publicly recognized, Rachel had given me “clear sailing” to back out, my reputation, shiningly intact.  (And possibly somewhat enhanced.)

But I didn’t.

I firmly stuck to my guns. (Who even knew I had guns?)

I kiss my cheek-swollen wife goodbye.  I call Lyft.  And it’s over to Rachel’s.

And beckoning “Babysitting Destiny.”

Rachel greets me with a hug, and wary, suppressed apprehension.  Understandable under the circumstances.  She is relinquishing her “Treasures” to an untested caretaker.

After last-minute instructions, Rachel exits the premises.

I am alone.

Facing the unchartered waters of two children and a dog.

I immediately make Milo my “Deputy.”  He has no idea what that is.  But when I explain his responsibilities – and my genuine need for his assistance – he seriously “straps on the hardware”, preparing earnestly for the job.

I am hardly a stranger to wrangling children.  I was a counselor, you know.  Though unused for more than half a century, I sense the latent skills and experience, rising to the fore.

Unbiased evaluation?

I was fun.  I was firm.  And I was focused.


(ROTELY)  “And those are only the ‘F’s’.”

Thank you.

Regular Bedtime Routine– “Check.”  (Glasses of milk.)  “Check.”  (Assiduous tooth-brushing.)  “Check.” (Three books, one about a magician, a hat and a bear.)

Final Nighttime Tradition:  Ten minutes of quiet, lying with each separately in the dark.  I throw in a few “wrinkles” of my own.  Following the Camp Ogama routine, I sing “Taps”  (“Day is done, gone the sun...”)  I then proceed to, “Relax your toes…”where , on the directed command, you send your breath to distinct areas of your body – from “toenails” to “hair” – transmitting calming vibrations, till you are totally relaxed.

And then – “The Big Test” – I step out.

Hoping it remains quiet.

And it does.  

“All is well.  Safely rest.”

Ten minutes later, Milo comes out.

“Pappy?  I have to pee.”

Then Jack comes out… because Milo came out.

Was this a telltaling signal of imminent trouble?  In the past, standing passively by as Dr M took care of “Bedtime”, I had seen seemingly harmless behavior elevate to a warring “Battle of Wills”, leading to the kids (embarrassingly) still being awake when their returning parents walked in the door.

Not this time.

Following the unscheduled “Pee Break”, I shuttled the children back to their (shared) bedroom, lay with them each for five minutes, and it was back out the door.

To yielding cooperation. 

Unbroken silence.  

And ultimate sleep.

And that’s the story.

“Mission Accomplished.”

Rachel returns.

“How did it go?”


I sense Rachel’s relief, appreciation, and startled surprise.

Not me.  

Deep down, I knew I could do it.  And somehow knowing that, I did.

True, it’s just a paltry “Sampling of One,”


When you “Pinch Hit” in the ninth, and you successfully come through…

(Taking a moment to re-live the experience)……………………………..

It’s as good as it gets.

One postscripting addendum, boundaried from the unblemished report.  

While monitoring the boys’ quieting bedroom, I hear the sound of insistent barking coming from downstairs.  I go down to check out the commotion, and discover “Bean”, the dog, accidentally locked in the pantry.  (After mistakenly tracking the barking to the refrigerator.)

Quoting former Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb, who flirted frustratingly with “No hitters” but never successfully pitched one:

“Tomorrow I’ll be perfect.”

BEAN:  “Great for you.  l get ‘flashbacks’, passing the pantry.”

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