Thursday, May 20, 2010
Generations. . .
For the past few years, there has been a little Starbucks stand tucked into the front of the Meijer store where we do a lot of our grocery shopping. I will stop there once or twice a week, and since my 'usual' order is a tad idiosyncratic (venti fat-free latte; three pumps sugar-free hazelnut, two pumps sugar-free vanilla), the retiree-aged woman who often works there notices me whenever I come by, and we've struck up a friendly little banter over the years. . . In the division of labor that Jen and I have worked out in recent years, the Meijer shopping has fallen into my pile, while she handles the rest of the grocery shopping, at the farmer's market, and a couple other places. . . 8M's birthday was a few days ago - he turned eight, which is a further indication that our childbearing years are drawing to a close (or that they have already). Which brings something of a combination of sadness and relief, along with being a marker that we're drawing closer to the end of our lives than the beginning. But this really isn't supposed to be a sad or dark post. Really. . . (bear with me; these seemingly unconnected strands will all come together eventually; I think) A week or two ago, I went out on my regular Meijer run, and I took 8M with me. When you have eight kids, taking them on errands is one of the ways you can wedge in a little one-on-one time with your kids. Which, honestly, works pretty well, for the most part. Except for the days when I'm craving a little solitude, but I've mostly written that off, for the foreseeable future. And 8M is a chatterbox of the highest order (a trait passed on to him from Jen's side of the family). Sometimes I just have to say to him, "8M, my ears are getting tired; could you be quiet for a few minutes?" Anyway, 8M and I were out doing some grocery shopping together. We filled our cart with all the items on our list, and after we had finished checking out, we wandered past the Starbucks stand, and on impulse, I decided to grab a latte for the road. My coffee-lady was there, and as I approached the counter (I don't even have to state my order anymore - she's memorized it; which is one of those little 'personal touches' that makes me want to keep going back there, rather than a different Starbucks, or whatever), she smiled, and started preparing my cup. Seeing 8M with me, she grinned and asked - "Is this your grandson?" Ummm. . . no. . . actually, he's my youngest son. . . I wanted to say something about how well my boys can swim, or somesuch, but I thought better of it. . . If I think about it, it really shouldn't be terribly surprising - I'm gray enough, and there are plenty of guys even younger than me who are grandfathers. But it was the first time that particular misperception has come my way (and maybe that's the 'truer' surprise; maybe I'm younger and more virile-looking than I think I am. . .) (or, you know, maybe not. . .) ------------------------- It reminded me a little bit of the time when I was in high school, and my dad was gone for a few days, and my mom and I, for whatever reason (I can't recall), were out to dinner. We had a nice time together, and when we had finished, the waitress put the check next to my place. With the implication that she perceived us as 'a couple', rather than a mother-and-teenaged-son. Which tickled my mom no end. And that waitress got a very generous tip. . .