Weather Forecast


Where there’s a Will, there’s a way

Second Thoughts

“If you choke on that, you’d better hope someone here knows the Heimlich, because I’m not saving you,” I warned my grandson.

I was spending the week with 8-year-old William while his parents were on vacation, and the treat I had promised was supper at McDonald's after his karate class. For the second time, the boy stuffed an apple slice sideways in his mouth and gave me a big smile so I got the full view.

Will takes after his father, who repeatedly pushed me to wit’s end decades ago. You’d think I’d be more laid back this time around, but now when I watch Will, it’s with the knowledge that I must answer to his parents if he’s injured. And since the boy loves to slide down banisters, clamber on the big red ball outside the Target store and shove bigger and bigger pieces of food in his mouth, minor injuries are a sure thing. Major injuries are a definite possibility.

That night it was dark by the time we drove to Will’s house. I missed his block, went to the next one and turned around.

“Did you know that U-turns are illegal?” asked the boy in the back seat. I laughed out loud as I stopped at the sign, recalling his directions to his dad years earlier when Will kept insisting that the stoplight one block up was the one that mattered — it was the one the child could see most easily from where he sat.

“Grandma,” said Will as we neared his house. “I need a bath tonight.”

It was Wednesday. He usually has a bath every other evening, Tuesday had been bath night, and Will doesn’t especially care for bathing.

This time he said he wanted to wash the sand out of his short, short hair. I asked how he got sand on his head in the dead of winter and got only a cryptic response about his hair touching the playground. There definitely was sand in his hair.

I think Will has a future in the theater. Later that same evening, he yelled from the bathroom, “I’m bleeding,” followed by “It’s gushing.”

I took the six steps from the living room two at time and shoved open the bathroom door only to see that he had scratched a scab off his knee. A mere drop of blood had formed.

Later my clean, pajama-clad angel cuddled next to me on the couch and asked me to scratch his back.

“Where?” I asked. “All over,” he replied.

So I gently scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched.

“My wrist is getting tired,” I said finally.

“I could move to the other side so you could scratch with your other hand,” grinned the boy.

Playing Monopoly is forbidden at his other grandparents’ house. Something about an altercation between Grandpa Bob and his brother when they were children.

So when I visit Will, we play Monopoly, though it’s never been my favorite because a match can drag on for HOURS — way past my attention span. I learned something from the last recession:  buy up all the property you can and when a mortgage is offered, take it. You’ll be bankrupt and out of the game in no time. An added bonus is the grandchild wins.

As for other games, Will and I are pretty evenly matched. I don’t know what that says about either of us, but it avoids hurt feelings.

This visit we played Uno Attack, checkers and Multiplication Bingo. Earlier Will taught me Rock, Paper, Scissors as part of a class assignment. The directions said to play 20 rounds, write down the results and then decide if the game is fair. We played 30 rounds because Will and I tied 10 times. Then we each won and lost 10 times — a statistical tie that proves nothing. I told the child we were so evenly matched because I could read his mind — a conclusion he denied. But then I knew he would.

The last day of my stay, I waited on the sidewalk as the school bus pulled around a pickup and came to a stop in front of me with the driver waving cheerfully.

She kept waving as Will hopped down the steps, yelling “Grandma” as though I’d been lost, and threw his arms around me.

“He’s the sweetest kid on my route,” said the driver. I beamed.

FYI: If he had choked on the apple slice, I would have used the Heimlich.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.