Strolling Around With Skippy Is Now My Job


Now that I’m spending a lot of time with my new grandson, I realize he has much in common with the family dog — they’re both big opportunists.

Crockett (the dog, not the baby) is right underfoot if you’re in the kitchen. If you’re not in there, he still guards both its entrances in case a marauding thief shows up (a.k.a. The Newer Dog). If you’re eating, he sits politely at your feet with his chin on your leg (a discreet reminder of his presence), and if he’s in the car with you when you go through a drive-through, he makes sure the server sees his smiling (slobbering, panting) face hanging out the window. He is not as discreet at the drive-throughs and will in fact trample you to get to the window, dig his toes into your leg to lean out and catapult himself off your lap if necessary. But he’s not a beggar, just an opportunist.

Skippy (the grandson) is following his lead. Because he has no teeth and has known nothing but milk so far, Skip’s not a big problem at the drive-through, but he does like his walks — like Crockett, of course.

Walking Skippy in the stroller started out as my desperate attempt to get him to sleep when all else failed. It was probably too cold to take him out, but I bundled him up, put on his red velvet Santa hat (the only one I could find on short notice) and off we went. He was asleep within a block. But now he’s gotten greedy. The walks get longer and longer as The Skipster realizes there’s a great big, wide world out there that he needs to explore. He doesn’t want to go home. He cries when he sees the front door come into view.

As for me, I’ve lost about 10 pounds pushing him around, and my death knell may have sounded last week when a fleet of heavy-equipment trucks rolled onto our street. Evidently, a new water line is being dug. Oh, the excitement!

What is it about little boys and gigantic machinery? I mean, Skippy’s only five months old and already he’s mesmerized. He was just nodding off when we came upon the first dump truck, and the driver, who must have had young children of his own, politely put the motor on idle so as not to wake him. It didn’t matter. Skippy smelled machinery.

His eyes popped open, and the pacifier dropped out of his mouth in awe. The fact that a big yellow excavator was pulling dirt out of the earth was just too much. Then this thing lifted up the dirt and poured it into a dump truck. Could it get any better than this?

It could. The dump lumbered away and a second truck took its place.

Considering the show to be at intermission, I again began to push, but Skippy swiveled his head around about 240 degrees so as not to miss a single moment of the ditch-digging process.

So our new normal is for the baby to refuse to sleep, for me to walk him halfway around the block and then for us to stand there for 10 minutes or so while the city installs a water line.

Satisfied beyond anything a bottle or a pacifier could do, Skippy is then ready for his nap. While his engineer parents are at their jobs, working like slaves to earn enough money for his Ivy League education, Skippy is in Dreamland, blissfully planning his career as a heavy-equipment operator.