early years

Piggy Back RideAs small children, most of us have no fear of things…at least not in the early years, before bedtime monsters tend to show up. We instinctively know that our parents will take care of us. Of course, part of it is that we don’t understand the possible dangers around us, and part of it…a major part is because, we simply trust that our parents are well able to keep us safe. It is a matter of trust. Things like going into a pool or lake with our parents seemed like no big deal, although if we had known, we would have realized that they were watching us like a hawk, making sure that we stayed safe. Most of us don’t really fully understand that until we have our own kids.

Like my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me, most kids think their dad can do anything. If you will notice, even though I am in back of Cheryl, and much lower on Dad’s back, my face shows no fear. I knew that my daddy would not let me fall. Somehow in his big strong hands, he had a hold on Cheryl’s hands, as well as my hands and feet. I was not afraid. In fact, I was smiling, as was Cheryl. We always knew that we could trust our dad to be there for us…not just as children, but all through our lives…for as long as he lived, we knew that he would do whatever it took to take care of us and to keep us safe. What a wonderful feeling that is. Trust…that is what it’s all about.

I think that for most kids, their dad is their first super hero figure. Like Superman or Batman, we think that they will always rush to the rescue, and they always will do their very best to be there. None of us wants to accept the fact that there might come a day when our parents can’t be there for us, whether it is because they life far away, or they live in Heaven. Most of us hope that day never comes, but if it must, then we hope we are grown adults, because we don’t want to live without them ever, but especially not as kids. Nevertheless, Swimming with Daddysomeday that day will come, and then we have to hope that the lessons we learned from our super hero parents will carry us through the changes in our own lives.

By then many of us have our own children or even grandchildren, and we have spent a number of years being the super hero for them. It is just a part of the journey we all take through this life. What we learn from our parents, we pass on to our kids, who pass it on to their kids. We can only hope that the lessons we pass along are of great value, and that we are worthy of the trust that our little ones place in us. I think that most of us are the kind of parent who deserves to be looked up to. I know that my own parents certainly were, and as I think of them, I feel a sense of pride and yes, still trust. I trust the lessons they taught me to shape me to be the kind of person they knew I should be. I have tried to train my children to be the kind of people my parents were…and the kind of person I am trying to be. It’s a matter of trust.

Grandpa's GirlsIn the early years of being a grandpa, my father-in-law had just girls…three in a row to be exact. That didn’t bother him one bit. They were grandpa’s girls, and he thought that was just fine. He loves kids, and as I have seen in letters he wrote to my mother-in-law, before their marriage, he had a special place in his heart for those little girls. His future sister-in-law, Margee had been just a little over 5 months old, when he and my mother-in-law were married, and he thought Margee was just the sweetest thing. His thoughts on baby girls didn’t change much over the years.

The girls felt the same way about their grandpa as he felt about them. They just thought he was the greatest thing going too. He loved to get down on the floor and play with them, and even if they were having one of their drama filled moments, he just didn’t seem to mind…he just redirected the play, so the drama would end, and the fun would begin. It was always fun to watch him with the girls, because he just loved being a grandpa, and it showed. In fact, he had always loved kids, so maybe that’s where Bob got his way with the little ones…softies, both of them.

I sometimes wondered where my father-in-law got his patience with the girls when they were fighting or crying…usually in the form of screaming, both. He didn’t lose his patience, like I felt like doing, but rather just separated the two fighters, and hugged them when they had their little boo boos. The screaming and crying practically drove me up a wall. If they were in that kind of a mood, I was very happy to let them go visit their grandparents, so grandpa could settle them down some.

As the years went by, my father-in-law would get one more granddaughter, and three grandsons. While he was wonderful with all of them, and it was obvious that he was simply partial to babies and kids in general, I will always remember those early years fondly. Thoughts of him happily surrounded by his girls playing and laughing put a smile on my face. The girls were so blessed to have him for their grandpa, and I hope they know that. Not every child gets to live near their grandparents, and the fact that they did is very special. While my father-in-law is gone now, I’ll always see him surrounded by his loving family, and I’ll always hold a special memory in my memory files for him and Grandpa’s Girls.

Corrie, Amy, & Machelle 1978As little girls, my daughter, Amy and her cousin, my niece, Machelle had an up and down relationship. One minute they were friends, and the next minute the were at each others throats. Being just six months apart in age, and both pretty headstrong, they each had specific ideas about how things should go when they are playing together, and when the other one disagreed…wow!!

Being the younger of the two, Machelle often thought it was ok to take Amy’s toys away from her. Now Amy tends to be slow to anger, so she would pick up a different toy, only to have Machelle take that one too. After a few such episodes, Machelle’s mom, my sister-in-law, Debbie said, with a laugh, how cute it was that Machelle kept taking Amy’s toys away. Knowing my daughter, as I did, I knew that she would be patient with her younger cousin…for a Little Machelle & Little Amywhile, and then my little girl would handle things in the only way she could…she would pop her cousin one, squarely in the nose. I felt that I should warn my sister-in-law, so I told her what was about to happen. She decided that it was best to move her daughter a little further away from mine.

Of course, not every encounter was like this one, and Amy was not always the winner, but the girls did tend to…disagree a lot in those early years, and because they were just kids, they didn’t always grasp the whole “don’t hit your cousin” thing. It happens sometimes, and often when the cousins are the same sex and near the same age. There were times when the girls could easily drive us crazy back then. In fact, sometimes I wondered how we managed to survive those fighting years, since they fought every time they were together.

Still, there were times when the girls were best friends, and we wondered how long it would imagelast this time. How could two girls be such strong enemies one minute, and the next minute, such good friends. A number of years have gone by now, and those little girl days are long past. Amy and Machelle no longer fight like they used to. In fact, they don’t fight at all, and Machelle was even a bride’s maid in Amy’s wedding. Maybe they got all that fighting over with when they were little, or maybe it had nothing to do with the two of them, and everything to do with normal child interaction. I guess it doesn’t matter really, since we no longer have to separate them. They have both turned into wonderful women, who have proven themselves to be sweet and kind to everyone around them.

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