Little One would not get into the car. No matter how the grandparents tried snapping her into her carseat, Little One would thrash and wail and remove herself from the seat like a Slinky made of syrup.
One second as pliable as taffy, oozing through arms and fingers and seat belt straps, the next as solid as a rock on the backseat floor.
Wailing a non-stop banshee song that would awake the dead, frighten ghosts and add to the frustration of well-meaning grandparents everywhere, especially the two trying to wrestle Little One into the car.
Then she became a tilt-a-whirl of arms, legs, torso, neck and head, which the grandparents could only weave and dodge like prizefighters against branches in a tornado, over and over again.
A crowd gathered as the grandparents huffed and puffed, red faced and exasperated. Little One’s slightly older siblings offered advice for restraining their little sister.
The grandparents had taken the three grandchildren to a pizza place while the kids’ parents were on a date night.
Sure, the grandparents said, we can take the grandkids out to dinner. We raised three sons. We dealt with refusals to eat. Temper-tantrums about the selected restaurants. Kids refusing to eat and talk. Kids saying awkward things to other tables or to waitresses. We raised three kids, day and night, night and day, for years. We can take all three grandkids out for pizza.
All went well for the pizza dinner. At first. The grandkids ate pizza, played video games and collected tickets for prizes. No fuss. No spats. No bother.
We got this, the grandparents said. Of course, they had this. They raised three sons. Why wouldn’t they have this? They had this to a point they didn’t even think about having it.
Watching kids. Been there. Done that.
Little One had an accident. The grandmother quickly realized, other than extra pull-ups, the change of clothes was incomplete. While the grandmother dealt with the accident, grandpa had the kids redeem Little One’s prize tickets for her.
Little One was not happy with their choice.
She expressed this outrage in the parking lot with the rage most people reserve for talking politics on Facebook.
So, the grandparents struggled to keep Little One wrapped in a blanket while strapping her into the carseat. The blanket was the first casualty of the battle.
Hair tousled, sweating, red faced, out of breath, the grandparents fought to strap Little One down.
Several of the kids arriving at the line of bars across from the pizza place stood by their cars watching two aging-more-by-the-minute adults wrestling an almost 2-year-old into the backseat of a car.
Between gulps of air, Grandpa mentioned that his wife and he probably looked like two Disney villains trying to shanghai 101 Dalmatians.
The grandmother said, “Are you saying I look like Cruella de Vil?”
“Nope,” grandpa said, then quietly went back to the struggle.
More kids watched from the line of cars. The grandson looked at the gathering spectators and yelled, “Everything’s fine. We’re OK. This is not a kidnapping.”
“Thanks,” grandpa muttered.
Then, finally, experience, skill and brawn won out, or more likely, Little One decided to quit; the grandparents had her safely in her car seat.
The older siblings got into the car. Grandmother got into the car. Grandpa looked at the watching young faces lined up by their cars, kids on dates, or looking to hook up with someone that night in the bars.
Grandpa straightened his hair and shirt, and said in a loud voice: “Let this serve as your lesson on birth control tonight.”
Then, exhausted, he climbed into the car and headed down the road.
Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times and editor of The Tifton Gazette.