The Pied Piper

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The little guy was absolutely precious. At first he was shy and self-protectively content in in close proximity to his mother’s arms or those of his father.  I understand that self-protective stance represents secure attachment and really should be regarded as a highly desired trait. Most folks intuitively think otherwise, but they don’t know what they don’t know.  I probably wouldn’t know it either, but I have the good fortune of having a child welfare background and I actually learned a few things about child development across the years.

Of course, as the evening wore on the little guy intuitively warmed to the General and myself.  It isn’t that I know all the tricks of the trade, I don’t. But having been a kid I know the things that were always a welcoming discovery for me.  Take for example, a bottle of chocolate milk. Anticipating the family’s coming for grilled burgers, I picked up a bottle of chocolate milk at the grocery store.  Pardon the pun, but that had to be good for brownie points with a two year old.

Maybe he picked up on the sparkle in my eyes when I talked of chocolate milk. I even had the thought as I talked that I wouldn’t mind having a glass myself.  I generally hate going to the grocery store for anything other than a steak to grill, but if I find myself in the dairy section, I have a tendency for a chocolate milk drift.  I buy a quart for my own consumption and it is gone before I get back home.  Sometimes it just feels good to be a kid again.

When I mentioned the chocolate milk, the mother said: “Maybe he’d like it. He’s never had chocolate milk before.”  Wow!  Could that really be true?  I countered, “Oh, then he doesn’t have to try it.  I just thought it was something he’d enjoy.”  She smiled and said, “No let’s try it. I like chocolate milk myself.”

The dad went out to the car to get the little guy’s Sippy cup and the rest is history. It was a “bottoms up” kind of experience.  The little guy really like it!  After dinner the General played the “pied piper” and appeared with a basket full of toys ideally suited for a two year old.  I was shocked by their appearance. After all didn’t we just rid the house of the non-essentials?  I’m sure we carried more than one box full of toys to Goodwill. 

Okay, so I learned something about the General. I’m not the only one that has difficulty letting go of things.  The basket of toys was all wooden objects that you’d find in a grocery store.  The apples and bananas and other assorted things were pieced together with Velcro.  So the toys were educational in nature and required eye-hand-coordination and the ability to experientially put things that came apart back together again.  These toys were not leftover toys from our children’s childhood. They were purchased for the grandkids. 

I made a mental note to ask the General about them later. I thought we were getting rid of all the non-essentials.  Of course, it worked out well that we had them for the little guy’s use. After all, he probably had never pieced a banana or apple back together before.  Add to that the chocolate milk, and he was on an adventure of sorts for himself.

I playfully asked if he’d like to go outside and feed the fish.  Of course, he was open to that.  As we neared the door I asked:  “Would you mind holding my hand?”  He reached out and took my hand. It was a “feel good” experience for me. I sensed it was for him as well.

In short order, the next thing I knew the little guy was periodically climbing up in my lap as the conversation had moved from out of the house to the patio.  His parents were very complimentary of our patio area and the outside view. They have only been in Henly for a couple of years.  Initially living in Houston, they made it to Austin and in a quest not to live on a postage size stamp lot, discovered property in Henly.  They purchased the property and subsequently had their first home built.

Speaking of their home, the mom said: “We really need to get a deck built. If you open the door it is a four foot drop to the ground.”  I had an immediately flashback to the first house we built in Henly.  When had an identical experience.  The wooden deck was built a couple of years after we moved in because money doesn’t grow on trees and we had to wait until we could afford it.

Actually, a good friend who had been a next-door neighbor when we lived in San Angelo came and helped with the construction.  Okay, so I helped with the construction and he provided the knowledge base and expertise to build the deck.  It instantly served as an outdoor sitting area for many a conversation and several years of enjoyment.  In fact, I’m sure the same is true for the family that purchased the home from us. They still live there.

Sometimes things seem more special when you have to wait and save to orchestrate their creation rather than having everything turn-key ready when you move in.  I’m one of those guys that need a project.  I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “I don’t half-do the projects I have now”. Just yesterday, the General mentioned my need to pull weeds out of the river rock.  With her recognition of the need there was also the veiled threat that if I didn’t do it, she’d call the landscape people and that would cost me.

I let her word of warning pass me by like water running off of a duck’s back. I didn’t mention to her that I spent some time earlier in the day pulling weeds. She’d make her own discovery of that soon enough when she noticed I didn’t bag and throw away the residue of weeds. She’d subsequently deliver “Lecture #3783” about not half-doing anything.  As for now, I’m content to wait and see.

At any rate, we had a delightful evening with a young couple and their two year old.  It is folks like them that will craft the kind of place that Henly subsequently becomes. Somehow I have the sense that things will be better.  They aren’t the kind of people who will settle for second best, but they will contribute the effort needed to make the community all it should be.

All My Best!

Don

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