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Dealing with being mistaken for a grandfather
Rich DeLong

It was 10 years ago this spring that my youngest daughter, Sydney, was getting her first taste of T-ball.

For the first five years of her life, she attended just about every softball, basketball and soccer game her older sister participated in. Now it was her turn to show everyone in the family what she was made of. I’ll never forget her first time up to the plate. After swinging the bat a few times at the tee, she finally connected and was promptly encouraged to run to first base. Mind you, this was a girl who still liked to be carried around on her father’s shoulders wherever we went.

After arriving at first base, she thanked the coaches and all the other players, and then said, “I’ve had a great time. Now I’d like to go home.”

Needless to say, softball was not a game she was going to pursue as a future endeavor.

That same game, I remember a man slightly younger than I cheering for a player in the outfield. He looked directly at me and asked, “Which grandkid is yours out there?”

I smiled at first and then with a soft voice answered, “That’s my daughter in the outfield rolling in the grass.”

I went home that evening, proud of my daughter for her willingness to try a new sport — and at the same time, a little put off by the comment that made me appear to be older than what I was really feeling. I asked my wife if I looked like I could be our daughter’s grandfather. I can’t remember her response, but I’m sure it was tempered with love and affection.

Yes, we had Sydney a little later in life, but she is a blessing from God for sure.

Fast-forward 10 years, and I’m now teaching that little girl how to drive. Oh, my God! What did I do to deserve this? Now I know why God gives children to young people. I know Abraham and Sarah were the exceptions, but Abraham never had to teach Isaac how to drive a car.

Learning how to drive nowadays has got to be one of the harder things to do for a teenager who is moving into young adulthood. There are so many distractions out there that I have a respectful fear even when I’m driving all alone. Put a newbie in the driver’s seat, and things can really start to get interesting. Focus is a word that comes to mind quite often when we are out there training. The other word is “brake” — that comes out a lot, too.

I’m not sure whatever happened to driver’s education in the schools, but I’d like to lobby to have that curriculum reinstated into the system. My guess is they could not find enough teachers with nerves of steel to climb into the passenger side of the car.

I’m sure with time, Sydney will be a great driver. She has already learned so much. And I’m confident that I will stick this out because all of our lives depend on it.

I just hope we never get pulled over by a policeman who asks, “Where are you taking your grandfather?”

Stay on the road to happiness, my friends.

DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. Call him at 912-531-7867 or email SeniorMo

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