By Darin Z. Krogh
I was saddened the other day at being fooled by an eight year old. My grandson. So I called up my Life Counselor, Daniel, and he met me at a local Spokane watering hole.
"How did it happen?" Daniel began, speaking in his deepest counselor's voice after he had taken a significant gulp from his pint of beer.
I told him that there was a B-17 flying around Spokane, a plane used in the movie "THE MEMPHIS BELLE". The crew of the MEMPHIS BELLE earned fame by flying 25 successful bombing missions over Germany in World War II. “My grandson was visiting at our house, and we went out on the deck to look at the noisy B-17 circling above in the sky.”
I continued, “This was a good time to tell my grandson about Uncle Ken who was a tail gunner on a B-17 during World War II. I described how my Uncle Ken’s bomber had been shot down and ditched in the English Channel. Uncle Ken waited in the cold water until a rescue boat picked him up. Several of his buddies in the crew were not so lucky. They died before help came.”
My grandson, being eight years of age, is not familiar with World War II. "Grandpa, where was your uncle flying to?"
"He took off from an air base in England and flew to Germany where his plane dropped bombs. He was coming back from Germany but his airplane got shot up before it got to England."
"Did he ever get to fly in an airplane again?" This is an important consideration for an eight year old.
"Oh, yes,” I answered, “There were more B-17's back in England, so he went to work tail-gunning the very next day."
My grandson seemed to be taking it all in and happy for my uncle Ken.
As my grandson got ready to go home, he announced that he deemed my Uncle Ken to be a hero but qualified that status by remarking, "I don't think Shannon's family would agree with me."
(BACKGROUND: We have a friend, Shannon, who is from Germany. Shannon is the mother of my grandson’s best friend).
I was alarmed that my grandson didn't understand how war works. I told him that soldiers have a duty and that after the war is over, sometimes old enemies can become your best friends.
At that point my grandson put his hand on my arm as if to comfort me, and said, "Joke, Grandpa, I'm joking."
Unless you have been pulling big whoppers over on a child for a number of years, you do not understanding the pain a grandfather feels when that same kid turns the tables.
With watering eyes, I finished my report to Counselor Dan, who had already quaffed his entire adult beverage in order to stay composed during my tragic story.
He felt my pain and said, "I have nothing to comfort you except my own story of suffering, which like yours, was dealt me by a grandchild."
He began his heartbreaking tale, "We were seated at the Thanksgiving table. My young granddaughter sat next to me. At a quiet moment, this granddaughter announced that she had decided what she wanted to be when she grew up."
I commiserated, "Those career choices can be good and bad."
Counselor Dan waved off my remark and continued, "My granddaughter announced that she was going to be an astronaut. Everyone at the table encouraged her, except for me. I couldn't get excited about her choice because kids change their mind every week about their future career. My granddaughter apparently saw my lack of enthusiasm and tapped me on the shoulder. She motioned that she had something to whisper to me. I bent over toward her, she spoke loudly, "Or a Stripper."
Counselor Dan shook his head and ordered another bracer.
I took over the role of counselor and told Dan that I understood grandfathers are unfairly blamed when a grandchild makes that kind of a remark. "Whaddya do?" I asked, sensing that he needed to talk about it.
"I couldn't pretend not to hear, everyone at the table heard her. I was speechless, in shock,” he admitted. I could see the dismay on the face of my daughter who is the mother of the potential stripper. Eventually, I composed myself and was about to begin a stern lecture on the pitfalls of strip dancing, when my granddaughter winked at me, letting me know that I had been the victim of a worthy put-on."
My heartfelt sympathy poured out to Counselor Dan. “It must have been horrible,” I said. Dan was choked up and could only nod in agreement.
We didn’t speak for some time during which I began feel much better about being the butt of my grandson's joke about angry Germans.
We two fools found comfort in each other’s sad tale and with more adult beverages, spent the afternoon wondering, “What's the matter with kids today?”