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Remember that time when…

I sat in the back seat between Granny and my big brother Roger.  Dad drove our family’s 1956 hardtop Dodge, and Mom held a road map as we travelled from Tennessee to Oklahoma the summer I was ten years old. Granny and I sometimes swapped places and I could feel the breeze from the front seat window, rolled down just a few inches, and I’d crack my window enough to blow my ponytail.The reason for this trip was Granny wanted to visit her nephew’s family; it was my family’s only long-distance driving trip with her.  She wore a shirtwaist cotton dress, heavy black shoes and white anklets, and her white hair was cut short – all common for a 71-year-old-woman.  I thought she was old, really old. 

            As we traveled the two-lane highways, Granny and I played the alphabet game and searched for letters printed on billboards and road signs.  We could claim only one letter per sign from A to Z.  It took a long time to spot the end of the alphabet:  V, X, and Z.  Then we spelled words – our full names and random words.  

            Mom gave updates of how many miles to the next town, which might be just a gas station, grocery store and post office. We stopped at roadside parks to eat the picnic lunch Mom had packed.  Sandwiches, chips, cookies, and Cokes, in thick glass bottles. 

             Recently, I rode with Daughter’s family of seven in their ten-passenger van from Winter Park, Colorado to Cookeville, Tennessee.  During the first hour of travel, all eight of us took in the scenery.  Snow on the mountains above the tree line, arrow straight evergreens below, and deep slopes to valleys.  Switchbacks and steep inclines led to Bethoud Pass at 11,307 feet above sea level, then more curves down the mountain toward Denver.

            Son 2 and 17-year-old Grand sat in the front captains’ seats, taking turns as driver and navigator.  Four other Grands sat in their ‘regular’ seats: two-person bench seats, a three-person bench seat, and a jump seat.  During the two days travels, Daughter and I sat beside each Grand.  They had over-the-seat hanging bags filled with craft and drawing items, small toys, and snacks. And each had a device, a ‘screen.’

            Leaving the mountains, I sat beside Lucy, age 11, who stretched her legs across my lap, leaned against her pillow, covered herself with a quilt and listened to a book downloaded on an iPod.  Another Grand listened to music and solved Rubix Cubes.  Two watched a favorite movie for the umpteenth time.  Daughter took in a downloaded podcast.  All had earbuds or headphones.

            Enjoying the quiet, I read a book downloaded on my iPad.  But we weren’t quiet for the entire twenty-one hours trip, when I sat with my Grands we talked, played pencil and paper games, rubbed backs, and cuddled. 

            Maybe my Grands will have happy memories as I do when Granny and I rode side-by-side to Oklahoma.  They might say, “Remember that time Gran rode home with us from Colorado?” 

Helpful Technology Goes Awry, Again

Today’s guest columnist is Daughter Alicia.  After she read my column about my frustration with QR Codes, she shared a recent technology experience at her house.

Background: our laptop has a pesky habit of interrupting on-screen work with a multitude of notifications. It interrupts with no regard of manners or propriety. No doubt, there is a way to stop notifications, but I haven’t done that. 

When it was time for 15-year-old Elsie to take the drivers’ permit test, we learned it could be taken online. Hooray! How convenient!  I registered to become Elsie’s test proctor and jumped through the hoops downloading the TN proctor ID application, and we were good to go.

I welcome a second teen driver. Every time I get behind the wheel, my offspring share much needed tips in the form of side-eyed comments: “Blinker,” “It’s yellow, Mom,” and “Turn here.”   

Elsie had studied diligently; she was ready. Step one: scan a QR code, after my proctor ID app recognizes my face. In the two weeks since I had installed the app, my face must have morphed to a state of non-recognizability. I timed out three times due to ‘security concerns’ for having the wrong face.    

After a live chat with Josh, an online assistant, who verified I was who I said I was, we were admitted to the testing site. I tried to play it cool as my girl was a shade anxious, but I sweated from the effort of being recognized by the wizardry of biometric identity. 

Elsie read the instructions, which told her to not have any web-connected devices nearby and to not open other on-screen windows (presumably to prevent wayward teens from on-the-spot research/cheating/tom

foolery). Ever the rule follower, she put her phone and Apple watch several feet away. She began.

I sat quietly. No hints. No ‘Are you sure?’ mom-interference. About a dozen questions in, an email notification popped onto the computer screen.  To be able to see question behind the pop-up,  Elsie hit the x to delete the notification.

Immediately, the test screen blacked out and words in big red letters appeared: YOU HAVE FAILED.  Surely not. Oh, but yes. “An alternate tab was opened. This is against the rules. This test is marked FAILED.” 

We stared at each other in disbelief. I cannot think of one thing Elsie has ever failed, and to be suspected of cheating – devastating. I was gobsmacked when I realized she FAILED because she closed a notification: ‘You have a new email.’ Good grief.

Elsie buried her head and came out laughing. We laughed until we cried. I don’t know which was worse for my girl: failure or being found guilty of cheating without a jury of peers. She carries the burden of being the oldest daughter who has a rather high self-imposed bar of success.  The next chance to take this test is 24 hours later.  At which point, we’ll load up and head to the good ole Department of Motor Vehicles Office to test in person, just like God and Henry Ford intended.

Curiosity and Determination

When a Grand asks to play our pump organ, I say, “Yes.” And I often say that my grandfather and his two sisters bought the organ about 1915 when they were young adults. 

            “Did one pump and one play?” eight-year-old Micah asked.  I shook my head.  Micah had played our piano and organ since he was a toddler – old enough to reach the keys.  Creating his own melodies, his little hands have run up and down the keyboards, and he learned to play with fingers, not fists. 

            He pumped the organ pedals and played, and like every other time, my Grand declared that you needed strong legs to pump.  When it was my turn, I played ‘Jesus Loves Me’ while Micah sat quietly studying my fingers and the hymnal propped open on the organ.  After I played the last note, he asked, “Gran, how do you know what key to play by looking at that book?” 

             I quickly found Lesson Book – Level 1A that Micah’s big brother and sister had used.  Knowing Samuel and Annabel used the same book made this young Grand throw out his chest. He asked to play the piano so he wouldn’t have to pump. 

            Micah is methodical – before he rides his bike, he puts on his helmet, arm and knee pads, and riding gloves – so when I flipped a few pages to one that showed black notes and finger numbers for ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ he stopped me.  “Gran, what if I miss something important in the front?” 

            He practiced sitting tall and curving his fingers like a cat’s paw.  We both numbered and wiggled our thumbs and fingers. “Are thumbs always number 1, even in a different book?” Micah bent his thumbs.  What a relief that music books uses the same numbered fingers. 

            We counted quarter, half, and whole notes in a measure. Micah played all the black keys in groups of two; then those in groups of three.  Forty-five minutes after opening the Lesson Book, we turned to ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and we sang the numbers over the notes: 2343 222 333 222.  (Keys are named as letters in later lessons.)

            Micah put three left-hand fingers on the three black keys below middle C, and I put my index finger over the first note in the lesson book.  “No, Gran. I think I’ve got this,” he said.  And he did.  Maybe because Micah is left-handed, playing with his right hand was more difficult, but he tried over and over to master ‘O’er the Deep Blue Sea.’  

            Micah took home copies of two pages from the lesson book. “I’ll play on our piano.  Everyone will be so surprised!  It’s kinda’ like reading.  When can I play the next page?”  Micah will learn the names of keys and he’ll understand that notes for ‘Jesus Loves Me’ are written on five straight black lines.  My Grand’s curiosity led to learning and his determination to success.  And I got to watch. 

One Night’s Adventures of Ralph S. Mouse

My Grand snuggled beside me on the couch, lay a book on my lap and asked, “Can we finish this book now?”

            I opened to the bookmarked page of Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Clearly and began reading aloud in the middle of a chapter, the top of a page.  Micah nudged me. “Gran, it’s okay, but do you know we’ve already read this?”  It had been three weeks since we last read about Ralph.  How could Micah remember?

            If you have read one of the three Ralph books, you know that Ralph is an unusual mouse.  He had listened to so many children and watched so much television that he learned to talk, and he rode a motorcycle that was propelled by his voice, “pb-pb-b-b.”

            Ralph lived at a hotel where Ryan, the young son of a housekeeper, was his best friend and confidante.  Ralph became frustrated with his cousins because they begged for motorcycle rides and were leaving signs of a mice infiltration at the hotel so he convinced Ryan to take him to school.  Ryan’s classmates discovered Ralph.  He had to escape a maze they created, avoid being seen by the school custodian, and deal with the class bully who smashed Ralph’s motorcycle.

            Micah remembered that we’d read about the motorcycle being destroyed.  As we continued reading, Ralph was given a sports car, a Laser XL7, but it didn’t move by pb-pb-b-b.  Ralph was told that he had to make a sports car noise to make it move.

            “Vroom!!” The car rolled across the floor.  My Grand clapped.  When the car needed to move backwards, Micah read the word much easier that I did, “Moorv.”   Micah said, “Stop!” He ran upstairs, came back, plodded down beside me, and ran his red Hot Wheelssports car along his leg while I read the last pages of Ralph S. Mouse.

            After brushing his teeth, putting on his pajamas, and snuggling under the covers, Micah asked, “Will you tell me a purple cow story?”   A story that I’d make up as I told it.   

            Purple Cow, tired after a day of picking grass in the pasture and playing outside, lay down on the straw covered floor in her barn.  She heard a noise, a squeaking noise.  My Grand grinned and whispered, “It was Ralph.” 

            I continued, “Purple Cow looked around, but she couldn’t see anyone or anything.  She asked, ‘Who’s there?’”

            My Grand raised his hand.  “Stop, Gran. I’ll be Ralph.”  Oh, the conversation between Purple Cow and Ralph!  They talked about what they’d done that day, the places they’d been, and what they liked to eat.  When Purple Cow said it was time to sleep, Ralph asked if she’d forgotten that he was nocturnal.

Purple Cow didn’t understand so Ralph explained the meaning of nocturnal.              In several columns, I’ve written about Heart Tugs, those times when heartstrings tighten and I want to imprint t

Can I Ask You a Question?

Lucy lay in the bathtub completely immersed, except for her face, and hidden under a thick layer of bubbles.  “Gran,” she said, “can I ask you a question?”  This from my 10-year-old Grand who once asked, “Gran, how does a baby get in Mommy’s tummy?”  Who once said, “Don’t you think belly buttons look funny?”  Who often asks riddles. 

            “Yes,” I answered, “what’s your question?”  Will it be frivolous?  A question that makes me laugh? A question her mother could better answer?

            My Grand grinned.  “Am I your favorite?”

            Favorite among eight Grands? How can I have one favorite? I measured my words.  “Lucy, you are my favorite right this moment.” 

            “But, am I your favorite all the time?”

            Fairness led my response. “Let’s think about that. How would your brothers and sisters and cousins feel if I had one favorite all the time?”

            My Grand sat up  and soap bubbles fell from her shoulders. She named her two brothers, her two sisters.  “They said I’m your favorite.”  She threw a challenge.

            “They’re right.  You are.  You’re here and we’re together.”

            “But,” she again challenged.

            “No but.  And…..” I let the word drag.  “When others are here or need help or a hug, then they are my favorites.  You’ll always be a favorite. Right now, you are my very favorite!”  My Grand giggled and slipped back under the water.

             Thinking back to being 10-years-old, I know how it feels to be a favorite.  I was the favorite of my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles because I was the only daughter, only granddaughter, only niece.  I wore that invisible badge of honor and love with pride and confidence.

            Years ago, Erma Bombeck, a syndicated newspaper columnist from 1965-1996, wrote about a mother having a favorite child.  ‘Every mother has a favorite child. The one with whom I share a special closeness, with whom I share a love no one can possibly understand.’ 

            Bombeck explained that her favorite child messed up during a piano recital, ran the wrong way with the football, had measles at Christmas, had a fever in the middle of the night.  Her favorite child was selfish, bad-tempered, and self-centered.  She wrote that a mother’s favorite child is the one who needs her at the moment for whatever the reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hug, to flatter, to unload on – but mostly to be there.

            Bombeck’s words have always stuck with me.  Because I have one daughter and one son, it’s easy to say each is my favorite.  But how can I say I have a favorite Grand?  Children – no, everyone – needs to be a favorite.  Needs to know that someone loves and treasures them above all others.

            I’ve replayed Lucy’s and my conversation and wish I’d answered with one word.  “Yes!”  Wish I’d not tried to be diplomatic and fair. Wish I’d not tried to explain.            

Lucy is my all-time favorite, as are her brothers, her sisters, her cousins.

Tea for Two

“Gran, would this be a good day for tea?” my six-year-old Grand asked.  She’d just finished eating breakfast: bacon, eggs, and toast.

            “It’s a perfect day for tea,” I said.  “Maybe later and we’ll invite others to join us.”  Her mother and her three girl cousins and their mom, I thought.

            Ann wrinkled her nose and leaned her head toward her right shoulder.  “Hmmmm.  How about now and just me and you?”

            Ann’s mother stood behind her and nodded to say she thought her daughter had a good idea.  “I’d like morning tea and just the two of us,” I said.

            My Grand put her breakfast plate on the kitchen counter and said, “Let’s get ready!” A few minutes later Ann was dressed in a brightly colored dress and wore a bow in her hair and a huge smile on her face.  I’d changed from a t-shirt with writing across the front to one with no writing.  We were dressed for a Monday morning tea party.

            Ann chose peppermint tea; I chose Earl Grey. “Which teapot would you like?” I asked.  I offered a small blue one that my mother’s friend gave me when I was a child or one that a friend brought to me from Japan. My Grand chose the Japanese teapot because she liked its fancy designs. “It’s so pretty,” she said as she held it.

            Ann refused my offer of fine china, instead she chose everyday Fiesta pottery.  “Green is my favorite color.  What’s yours?” she asked.  She placed her green and my gold-colored cup and dessert plates on trays.

            Since I didn’t have scones or tea cookies, I cut chocolate brownies and peanut butter bar cookies, into one-inch squares.  Ann arranged them on our plates, and I poured hot water into our teapots. 

            My Grand wanted to sit at our round glass table outside so we carefully carried trays to the front porch.  I corralled Husband to take pictures and Ann and I posed after she staged the plates and cups.  As I poured tea, Ann asked, “Gran, don’t you think we should get rid of that big bug before we eat?”  She pointed to a dead beetle, across the table from me, but within her reach. 

            Finally, after the beetle was on the ground, three spoonsful of sugar had been stirred into Ann’s tea, and fancy napkins lay on our laps, we sipped tea and ate brownies. I talked about traditional foods served for tea.  My Grand shook her head to show dislike for scones, chicken salad sandwiches, and smoked salmon, but her eyes lit up for cucumber sandwiches.  “Can we make some now?” she asked.

            So together we trimmed off bread crusts, cut each piece of bread into four squares, spread cream cheese, and cut thin round cucumber slices.  Ann declared that they were the best cucumber sandwiches she’d ever eaten.

            I declared tea time with just Ann one of the best teas ever. Actually, anytime with Grands, especially doing what they choose, is the best of times.

You got any Strawberry Jam?

“Hey, Gran, you got any strawberry jam?” When my Grands ask this, they mean homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam and they know the answer is yes.  

            As long as I can slice and chop and stir and pour, there’ll always be strawberry jam in my freezer.  It’s a family tradition. Mom served homemade jellies and jams alongside hot Martha White biscuits, and her strawberry jam was my favorite.

            After I married, Mom gave me jars of strawberry jam for my birthday. It was a gift of work and love; she picked the berries from Dad’s and her strawberry patch and washed, chopped, and cooked. My children ate peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches so I get a bit sentimental when my Grands do the same.

            Last week as I watched twelve-year-old Annabel stir peanut butter and jam together in a bowl and then spread it on bread to make her sandwich, I remembered that both her mother and I had done the same at her age. And another Grand, age 10, takes PB & J sandwiches in his school lunch bag every day so he makes five sandwiches at one time and freezes them to have throughout the week. 

            Strawberry jam isn’t just for biscuits and sandwiches.  Have you tried it on cornbread?  That’s 10-year-old Lucy’s favorite.  Her older sister, Elsie slathers sour dough rolls with butter and jam.   Muffins baked with a spoonful of jam in the middle are a treat. A plain soda cracker topped with strawberry jam would probably be tasty – a bite of salty sweetness.

            Strawberry Freezer Jam could be called Congealed Strawberry Sugar since the ingredients are twice as much sugar as fruit and pectin.  One time to cut cost, I used a less expensive store-brand sugar and the jam never “set-up,” but it was delicious ice cream topping.  I learned my lesson: use name brand, high quality sugar. 

            But all pectin may be the same. Because only store-brand pectin was available where I shopped recently, I took a chance and bought two boxes.  Last week, I made six recipes of jam, four with expensive name brand pectin that I’d bought earlier, and two with the cheaper store-brand.  There’s not a smidgen of difference in the taste or consistency.  

            I’m sentimental about jam jars.  Store bought jelly jars and recycled grape jelly jars work well, but my granny’s snuff glasses with tin tops that Mom filled fifty years ago are my favorites.  Last week, my Grand teased me as she wiped clean the tops of the filled jars and put lids on them.  “Gran, what if someone thinks it’s snuff?” she asked.   

            Six recipes make a lot of jam – thirty cups!  All eight Grands, those who live across town and those who live an airplane ride away, eat it.  And jam in tightly sealed plastic containers travels well inside a suitcase.

            A day spent making jam is a day well spent.  It isn’t just about good eating for my Grands – it’s also reliving happy memories.

When Clothes Talk

“Hi, Gran, you look like Dad!”  Micah said.  I’d walked up behind my six-year-old Grand while he played with Matchbox cars on a track he’d made in the dirt.  He turned quickly and looked up to greet me.

             “Micah,” I said, “why do you think I look like your Dad?”  Son2, aka son-in-law, and I are about the same height, and he could wear my t-shirts, but his would be a bit tight for me.

            “What you’ve got on,” my Grand answered. “Doesn’t Dad have a shirt like that?” My t-shirt had a bicycle on it and because Son2 has ridden in many biking events, he often wears t-shirts with a picture of a bicycle.  I shook my head to answer Micah, and realized I was wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes, like Son2 wears most days since he’s been working at home during these months of the pandemic.

            Now, I love Son2, but Micah’s words that I look like him made me think about the clothes I wear. What other time in history would a child’s father and grandmother wear the same type of clothing?  I can think back one generation when my mom wore pants, but not jeans.  Her pants often had elastic waistlines and were made of stretchy fabric, and Mom wore long Bermuda shorts in the summer.  I never saw either of my grandmothers wear pants; even when Granny hoed the beans and pulled weeds from her flowerbeds, she wore a cotton shirtwaist dress. 

            History tells us that in the mid-1800s, women wore bloomers under dresses. By the early 1900s, women’s trousers appeared on high-fashion runways. During World War II, when more women entered the workplace, they wore pants for comfort. It wasn’t until the 1960s that pants became fashionable and popular for women.  And even then, we college students in the late 60s remember that pants weren’t allowed in classes.  I often wore my lightweight knee-length raincoat over shorts or pants to class.  

            By the early 1970s, pants suits, made of matching or coordinating fabrics, were poplar and comfortable.  The long tops were several inches above the knees and covered loose wide-leg pants.  And then the hippy revolution hit, with bell-bottom pant legs and jeans, and women began to wear pants everywhere.

My favorite jeans were bell-bottoms, wide legs that dragged so long that I almost tripped.  Now, like most women, I have several pair of jeans and I’ll keep wearing them.

            Who doesn’t have a collection of comfortable t-shirts?  We wear them to support sports teams, state our beliefs, and show where we have travelled.  But Micah made me think that I’ll wear other shirts when I’m out and about.            

The day I wore a t-shirt without writing or a picture and visited Micah’s house, his mother said, “You’re dressed up.  Going somewhere special?”  I didn’t tell Daughter that I was wearing a plain pink t-shirt because of something her son said, instead I said, “Yes, to visit with all of you!”

Weaving Away the Summer

“Gran, did you get more loops?” Lucy and Annabel have asked this question many times recently because these two Grands are weaving potholders.  Cotton, square potholders like many of us made when we were children.

            I’ve had a metal loom and a supply of loops for many years since our oldest Grand could understand over and under and his fingers were strong enough to pull a loop over a hook and his patience long enough to complete a project.  All our Grands have made one special potholder for their mothers, but after Lucy, age 9, made three in one sitting a few weeks ago, I casually said, “Maybe you could sell some of these.” 

            “How much?  Where?” Lucy asked, her eyes open wide.  I sent pictures and a text to two friends and they bought Lucy’s first for-sale potholders.  A picture couldn’t capture Lucy’s pride and excitement when she exchanged potholders for money. 

            Lucy and I made a deal:  she would make and sell potholders for $5.00 and give me one dollar to pay for supplies.  I’d advertise and drive her to make deliveries.  By the next day, she’d made five more.  I sent a picture of those to three people thru Facebook and all agreed to buy.

            Annabel, Lucy’s older sister, wanted to get in on the action so she began weaving.  When each girl had five completed, they sent me pictures and asked, “Gran, can you put these on Facebook and see if anyone will buy them?”   I did and offered in-town delivery. 

            Within hours, those ten potholders were sold and there were orders for more.  The girls were excited and I was a bit surprised.  To date, we have delivered twenty-six potholders and there are orders for twenty more.  

            I asked Lucy and Annabel, “Why do you like making potholders?” Simultaneously, they said, “Money!”

            Then Annabel added, “It’s fun to make them,” and Lucy said, “We get to talk to people.”

            Neither of the girls has a plan for their money, but each can tell you exactly how much they’ve collected.  “Maybe I’ll get something special with it,” Annabel said.  “I just like having it,” said Lucy.

            Making potholders wouldn’t be so much fun if the community center swimming pools were open and my Grands could go places and enjoy their normal summer activities. 

            Lucy’s answer sticks in my mind, “We get to talk to people.”  She and her four siblings have seen very few people since early March.  That Lucy likes to talk with adults, most she’s never met before, while standing outside their homes and while all wear masks, is a sign of the pandemic.

            Lucy and Annabel will remember this summer when they couldn’t go to the pool or have friends over to play or go to church or even go to the grocery store.  The summer when they had fun making and selling potholders.  What began as a way to keep Lucy’s hands busy one afternoon turned into a silver lining of the COVID pandemic and I’ll buy loops as long as my Grands weave.

For the Want of a Sucker

My five-year-old Grand is my ride-around town partner for drive-thru services. After making stops at the bank and the library, Micah and I went to the drugstore.  When I saw several cars in line, I thought the wait might be longer than Micah’s patience so I suggested that I take him home and I’d pick up my prescriptions later.

            “But Gran,” he said, “I want a sucker.”

            “Micah, I don’t think they have suckers,” I said. 

            “Why?” Micah asked.  I hope this question stays in his vocabulary forever and it always deserves an answer. 

            “Every drive -thru doesn’t offer suckers,” I said.

            “Oh. If they do, can I have one?” His hope for a sucker encouraged me to line up behind three cars.

            We sat quietly for a minute and then Micah asked, “Will you ask for six?”

            “Six? Why six?”

            “For my brother and sisters.  Wait! that’s not right!”  And then he began a ten-minute monologue, with many pauses, that required few responses.  Micah named his siblings.  “I need one for Lucy.  For Annabel.  For me. Is that three?  Did I say Elsie?  For Elsie.  How many is that?  Four?  Samuel probably doesn’t care.  That’s right. I need four.”   He had named his older siblings from youngest to oldest.

            “But if they only give you three, they’re for Lucy and Annabel and me. What if they only give you two?  That’ll be for Lucy and me.”  

            “Gran, do you like suckers?”  I do.  “So maybe they’ll give you one if you ask.” 

            “What if they give you only one?  I’ll eat it real fast before we get to my house. Wonder what kind they have? I like every kind. It doesn’t matter what kind they have.”

            Finally, it was my turn at the window. Micah sat right behind me in my van.  I rolled his and my windows down; he stuck his head out the open window.  After hearing my name and birthdate, the pharmacy clerk turned her back to us and I whispered, “I don’t see any suckers.” 

            Micah said, “Me, either, but maybe they’re hidden.”   I wasn’t surprised when the clerk said hello to Micah, but didn’t offer a sucker.  No, she didn’t have suckers.

            The clerk handed me my prescription and said, “You two have a good day.”

            As we drove away from the store, Micah said, “That’s okay, Gran.  I didn’t really need a sucker and nobody else will know that she didn’t give us any. Don’t tell them.”

            A lump rose in my throat.  My grandmother impulse was to buy a bag of suckers, but I didn’t. And I didn’t go to my house and get four suckers out of my chewing gum and sucker stash.

            Micah had accepted a disappointment, a seemingly small one.  Would it help him accept larger ones?  And what about not telling his brothers and sisters?  He protected them from disappointment. 

            My ride-around-town Grand is learning some life lessons that are learned through experience. And I thought we were only running errands.