Skippy Takes A Lickin’ But Keeps On Tickin’


We warned him, but he didn’t believe us. Because my grandson Skippy, age 3, would really rather climb up the slope of the slide than the steps. It’s easy… it’s fast… and you have the fun of challenging the child trying to slide down.

That’s why Skippy now has a black eye and a footprint on his face. Little Johnny accepted his challenge.

Playground politics is interesting — a lot less posturing, a lot quicker results. And long-lasting results. Fourteen years from now, when Skippy and Johnny are both after the same girl, Skippy will probably back off. (“Oh. You’re asking Ashley to prom? Well, I’m thinking of asking… um, Stephanie. Yeah. Stephanie.”)

But back to the playground. Skippy was hurt, but he also knew that he was in the wrong. So he did what any macho 3-year-old would do and sauntered casually past the teachers until one looked down (way down, since these kids are pretty short) and noticed him. “Oh my gosh, Skippy! What happened?”

“I fine.”

“Did you fall? Run into a tree? Trip over a dump truck? What?”

“I fine.” Meanwhile, his face was starting to swell.

“You can tell me, Skippy. You’re not going to get in trouble.”

So, with the promise of immunity, the ugly truth came out, and Skippy was rushed to the school nurse for an ice pack and to have his vision tested.

Once it was ascertained that the little guy didn’t need an ambulance, a call went out to my daughter, asking if she wanted to come pick him up.

“Is he crying?”

“No, he claims to be fine.”

“I’ll be there in an hour then,” Jen said. She had already planned to get to the school early because it was the class Valentine’s Day party and parents were invited. Skippy’s dad also attended, oblivious to the scene that would greet him. Actually, it made quite a picture — construction paper hearts everywhere… happy kids dressed in pink and red… proud parents lined up behind them… and one little guy up front sporting a black eye and a heel mark.

I’m sorry to say that the black eye only got more prominent as the days wore on. Over the weekend, it really started to bloom. Jen is hoping it will fade dramatically this week, since her best friend is getting married on Saturday and the whole family has been invited. The wedding is in Wisconsin, so they’re stopping to see Skippy’s great-grandparents on the way. I take this as proof that children are ultimately out to get us.

They know when something important is coming up, and they want to make us look bad. My own kids would get their worst injuries the day before their annual check-up. I’m sure the pediatrician thought I was a horrible parent! And when the kids started to talk, I only looked more guilty.

“What do you do for fun?” the sweet old doctor would ask Jenny.

“Climb trees,” she’d answer.

“Well, don’t fall out and break your arm,” he’d chuckle.

“I won’t. There’s a pond underneath.”

What kind of parent lets a kid climb a tree over water? A neglectful one! But the happiest days of her life were spent in that tree — just as the happiest days of Skippy’s life are spent on the playground.

Eventually you just have to shrug and admit that life is full of risks.