Someone locked the door to Hope’s bedroom. No one could find the key. All the windows were locked. There was no way in. There is a cold air return that opens into her room. Finally we came up with a plan. We took the grates off the cold air return and called our little four-year-old grandson, Koen.
“Koen, buddy, can you crawl through there and open the door.”
Fear on his face. Coxing. Pleading. No luck. He was not ready to crawl into the scary dark hole.
More pleading. More cheap psychology; “Are you a big guy? Are you tough?” No deal.
Finally bald, unadorned bribery. “If you crawl into the hole grandpa will take you to the Dollar Store.”
Koen loves to go to the Dollar Store with gramps and buy junk. It might be his favorite thing to do right after driving the car, driving grandpa’s tractor, and shooting his gun at things.
He immediately shot through the opening and emerged from the door with a heroic grin on his adorable little face. He stood there for a few minutes basking in the adulation due his accomplishment and then said; “I’m getting my coat. We have to go to the Dollar Store”
Keira chimed in saying; “I know just what I want and I only need four dollars.” She knew that if grandpa was going to take her brother to the Dollar Store he would never think of leaving her behind and of course she was right.
Off in the cold winter night we went keeping a sharp eye out for deer. Snow all around. Children in the back seat chattering happily. It was a sleigh ride.
We get to the store. Each child choses a toy. We grab a few other things and check out. I stop dead in my tracks…
“What is wrong with this picture children?” I ask.
They look at me puzzled.
“Do you have a candy bar Keira?”
“Koen,” I ask, “Do you have a candy bar?”
“No,” the little tyke says, searching my eyes for meaning.
“I will just tell you this… we don’t go the Dollar Store with grandpa and leave without a candy bar. That is just not how grandpa rolls. What kind do you like?”
I pick a jumbo peanut butter cup. Keira goes for the Oreos. Koen gramps gum-balls. Grandpa vetos the gumboils. Running out of time he grabs a Mounds Bar.
The lady behind the counter says; “I like KitKat.”
Everybody gets their candy bar and we toss a KitKat to the nice lady who reacts wonderfully as if she just won the lottery and we walk to car feeling like Scrouge on Christmas morning sending the prize turkey to Bob Cratchit.
On the way home I ask; “How do you like your candy bars?”
Keira; “I love mine.”
Koen; “Mine’s kinda mushy.”
Keira; “Here Koen. Have one of mine. If you want you can have another.”
I ask Koen; “Do you like your candy bar.”
He says; “I think it is for grown-ups.”
“Would you buy it again?” I ask.
I swallow the rest of his Mounds bar. I’m very grown up. Keira shares another of her cookies with her little bother.
Soon we are home. They run into the farmhouse announcing their treasures to mom and grandma and aunt Hope.
Tomorrow I will leave early and when I return home they will be gone home to Wisconsin. The house will be neat and quiet and nothing will get broken and the remotes will be easy to find… No one will lock the bedroom door and our hearts will ache to hear their little voices. We will miss their antics and the cute things they say and we will miss wasting money on cheap toys and candy bars at the Dollar Store.
Summit Township, Michigan
December 31, 2018