Grandpa, Who’s John Burroughs?

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Elijah overhears Grandpa and Grandma talking about John Burroughs.

“Grandpa, who’s John Burroughs?”

“Well, Elijah, there’s John Burroughs and then there’s the John Burroughs. We’re not talking about the John Burroughs.”

EliC43CF607-9499-4D51-BF55-CFCEB806711C“I’m confused, and you’re confusing!”

“I understand. It is confusing. I can see why you’d be confused.”

“I’m only eight-weeks old, Grandpa! I shouldn’t have be be confused already. I have plenty of time to get like you.”

“Okay. I apologize. Grandma and I shouldn’t be talking about this in your presence. We’ll try to be more careful.”

“Thanks, Grandpa. I don’t want to be as confused as you are! So, who’s John Burroughs?”

“Okay, like I said, there are two John Burroughs. There’s a guy named John Burroughs who wrote a nice review of Grandpa’s book, and there’s the John Burroughs who’s famous. That John Burroughs died a long time ago. This John Burroughs is still alive. I know nothing about him. He likes my book.”

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The John Burroughs, American naturalist and essayist (1837-1921)

“Wow! You don’t know anything about John Burroughs, but he knows about your book? Maybe John Burroughs knows you quote John Muir, the John Burroughs’ close friend! Maybe this John Burroughs is the John Burroughs’ grandson!”

“No, Elijah. Not everyone who is the grandson of someone famous!”

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, July 20, 2017.

 

 

 

Grandpa, you gonna answer that?

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When the area code on the caller ID is unfamiliar, do you take the call or let it to go into voicemail?

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“Grandpa, did you put your hearing aids in this morning?”

“Yes, Elijah. Why?”

“‘Cause the phone’s ringing!”

“I know. It’s annoying.”

“Then why don’t you answer it?”

“I don’t recognize the number on the caller ID. I get lots of calls from solicitors.”

“What’s a solicitor, Grandpa?”

“Well, a solicitor can be lots of things. But, in this case, it’s someone who’s selling something over the phone. They intrude on my privacy.”

“Yeah, we like privacy, right, Grandpa? Just you and me! just the two of us after I’ve been fed.”

“Right.”

“But the phone keeps ringing. Just because you don’t recognize the area code doesn’t mean it’s a solicitor. It could be good news, like you won the Lottery or something! Maybe it’s the New York Times Book Review or The New Yorker telling you they’re going to review your book!”

 

“Okay, good point, Elijah!”

I pick up the phone.

“Mr. Stewart, this is Jane from the Anglican Journal. I’m calling to let you know that we’ll be reviewing Be Still! this fall.”

Eli C43CF607-9499-4D51-BF55-CFCEB806711C“Wow, Grandpa! What’s the Anglican Journal? Is it like the New York Times?”

“No, Elijah, it’s Canadian. Jane was calling from Toronto.”

“From Canada?! You got a call from the Anglicans in Canada and you almost didn’t take it? Next time the phone rings, you’d better answer it. It could be the New York Times!”

“It’s not going to be the New York Times, Elijah! Trust me!”

“Why? You’re a minister, right? You’re supposed to know your Bible!!! Jesus said you should listen to me. It says so right there in Matthew 21:16:

have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself?’?”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 19, 2019

Elijah’s dimpled smile

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On his eight-week birthday, Elijah lights up the world with a dimpled smile for Grandma.

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Elijah on his eight-week birthday

Elijah knows nothing of adult dangers, toils, and snares — like his mother’s seven weeks of sleepless nights or the evening news that seem to erase dimples from older cheeks.

He lives completely in the moment. Today’s a really special day. The first thing Elijah saw when he opened his eyes was a different kind of dimpled smile he’d not yet seen on Mom’s face.

He and Mom are celebrating the long-suffering love that has brought them safely through the night to his eight-week birthday, the day after their first nearly full night’s sleep.

“Grandma! Look what I did!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 18, 2017.

Elijah’s Joy: Life is beautiful!

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Elijah no longer watches CNN or any other news channels. He’s become a Gopher — a Minnesota Gopher fan, but he doesn’t care about sports or any kind of competition. He’s all smiles watching his mobile characters stroll across his crib, enjoying the music and his mother’s and grandmother’s voices.

We should all be so happy!

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, July 6, 2017

Elijah’s hunger strike!

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carseatFullSizeRenderElijah is not happy when he arrives at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s at dinner time.  Adult dinner-time, not his! Elijah still eats every two hours, all day, all night.

He hates his car seat.

He yells and screams at Mom for the 20-minute drive from Mom’s to his Grandparents’ home in Chaska.

The conversation begins while removing the straps of his straitjacket.

“Elijah, Mom needs you to be quiet when she’s driving. You need to be more respectful. Mom has needs, too.”

“No she doesn’t! Mom’s a warden! I hate that cell!!!”

“No, Mom loves you! She’s not a warden; the car is not a prison; and your car seat is nothing like a prison cell.”

“Uh-huh!!! I thought you were my friend! You’re just like Mom! You don’t care about me. You think I’m just a thing, like my car seat. I’m not coming here anymore.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. Do you want me to get you out of your car seat or not?”

carseatNo! I’m staying here just like Martin Sostre did in solitary confinement because he refused to submit to the warden’s rules.”

“Well, Martin’s case was altogether different. Martin was a political prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Chaska’s a long way from Dannemora.”

“You loved Martin more than you love me, and Martin wasn’t even your grandson!”

“Well, there’s a big difference between you and Martin. Martin was a man of courage. He didn’t scream and yell. He didn’t cry. Martin didn’t terrorize his mother.”

“You care more about people who aren’t members of the family than you do about me! That’s not right! Martin was a criminal. I’m a prisoner, but I’m no criminal.”

“Elijah, there’s a big difference. Martin was an adult. He wasn’t in solitary for his own safety. He was put there to humiliate him. Mom puts you in your car seat to keep you safe.”

“Uh-huh! And because she’s enforcing the law! Mom’s a warden and you’re a guard! How come you won’t help me! I’m your grandson! I’m gonna go on a hunger strike!”

“Well, okay. But remember. If you go on a hunger strike, you’ll still get strapped in your car seat. The only things a hunger strike would change are you’ll make Mom happy ’cause she doesn’t have to feed you every two hours . . . and you’re going to starve.”

“That’s not fair!””

“No, it’s not, Elijah. Life’s not fair. As my old football coach used to say, ‘Life is tough! You must learn to adjust.”

“Not in my car seat!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 1, 2017.

 

 

 

Elijah and Pumphouse Creamery

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Elijah’s Mom, and Grandma just learned of  Pumphouse Creamery.  They’re getting excited. They want Grandpa to drive them to the Pumphouse for ice cream.ElijahIMG_5621

Elijah’s never had ice cream.

In a pinch, he’s had pumped milk, but he’s never been to the Pumphouse.  Listening to Grandma talk about all the flavors and the Sundaes, Elijah’s starting to get excited.

Elijah, they have special flavors at the Pumphouse.

Like what?

Like Madagascar Vanilla, Fresh Rhubarb, and Belgian Chocolate.

Are they organic? I can only do organic.

Yes, Elijah, they’re mostly organic. It’s handcrafted ice cream that starts with natural, organic and locally-sourced ingredients. It says so right on the Pumphouse website.

Grandma, do I have to go in that car seat?

Yes. We’ll take you in your car seat.

I’m going to tell Grandpa! I hate my car seat! Sometimes Mom pumps right here in our own little pump house!

  •  Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 26, 2017

 

 

Grandpa, this is boring!

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Grandpa IMG_5556Grandpa, who are the Twins? What’s baseball?

Well, Elijah, the Twins are Grandpa’s team.

What’s a team?

That’s a little like us – more than two people working for the same goal.

Yeah, like us! Trying to sleep through the night so Mom can get some sleep. Right, Grandpa?

Right! Because you and Mom are on the same team. She’s the Manager. You’re her only player.

I thought you said we were Twins. How can I be the only player if I’m a Twin?

Well, you and I are Twins. Mom, not so much. Mom likes basketball.

We’re twins?! How’d that happen? You’re old. REALLY old. Poor mom! She must have been in labor a long time. Wow! How old is Mom?

No, Mom’s a lot younger. We’re not twins like that. We’re Twins FANS. We watch baseball. The Twins are our favorite team. When I was your age I was a Boston Red Sox fan . . . but I didn’t know it yet. Then we moved to Philadelphia and Grandpa became a Phillies fan. And then a Cleveland Indians, fan; and then a Cincinnati Reds fan; and now I’m a Twins fan. We love baseball.

e2aad2db16c6beb64a94489477ec11c8Yeah. That’s what we’re watching, right, Grandpa? BORING!

It is, Elijah. Baseball’s much more fun to play that it is to watch. Some day you’re going to be a slugger! But remember our conversation yesterday about day and night? You need to stay awake until it’s bedtime so you and Mom can sleep through the night. Mom’s the Manager. Without Mom you don’t have a team. You’re on Mom’s team.

Yeah. I’m on Mom’s team. And we’re twins. And night is when the sun goes to sleep. The sun went to sleep hours ago. Good-night, Grandpa.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 22, 2017.

 

“Elijah, Grandpa is God talking!”

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Elijah is confused. He thinks night is day and day is night. Which is very inconsiderate of his mother. 

Elijah, you’re three weeks old now. You need to start sleeping at night.

What’s night, Grandpa?

Well, night is when it gets dark. It’s when the sun goes to sleep.

I like to sleep in the light. It makes me feel safe. Mom’s happier in the light.

No, she’s not. She’s really not. You need to be more considerate.

Uh uh! Mom’s afraid of the dark!

No, Elijah, she likes the dark. She just wants to sleep all the way through the night.

But what about me? I get hungry in the night! I need Mom.

I know you do. And she needs you. She trying to teach you something important.

Like what?

Well, like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you don’t sleep at night, you’re not treating Mom the way you want to be treated.

Grandpa, I just get hungry a lot. Mom loves me as she loves herself . . .  . Doesn’t she?

She does, Elijah. She does! But she needs your help. Mom needs her sleep. She just needs you to get into a biblical rhythm, like it says in the Bible. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Wow! God can talk?!

Yes. And right now Grandpa is God talking. If you want Mom to treat you the way you want be treated, you need to sleep through the night. Otherwise you won’t get fed. There will be a formless void and darkness all the time!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 21, 2017.

 

Elijah’s third birthday

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“Grandpa, I’ve already learned to swim, and pretty soon I get to go to kindergarten, right? Will my kindergarten teacher teach me everything I need to know, like Miss Britten and Robert Fulghum taught you before you got to be decrepit?

“Remember, Grandpa, what Rev. Fulghum said? ‘Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.'”

When I’m old like you, will I still smile? Or will I be a frowning curmudgeon?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 13, 2017.

 

 

 

Grandpa, who’s Mr. Rogers?

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Well-fed Elijah has become curious about television. He has a new topic and questions.

“Grandpa, Mom’s been watching CNN. What’s CNN?”

“It’s a 24-hours-a-day news channel, one of many television channels.”

“Yeah, my great uncle John doesn’t like CNN. He told Mom she should be watching FOX. What’s FOX, Grandpa?”

“Well, Elijah, it’s too early for that discussion. There are more choices than CNN and FOX.

“Yeah, like MSNBC and Rachel Maddow! I like Rachel! I don’t like Sean Hannity. He’s mean!”

“I understand. But you need to be careful. Both Rachel and Sean only do one-way conversations.”

“Yeah, like ours, right Grandpa?”

“Sort of. But you get to talk back to me. Sort of. I can hear you. Rachel and Sean can’t and they don’t care what you have to say. When you get older you can choose your own television channel. You don’t have to watch the news all the time. But no matter what you end up watching, you’ll always have Grandpa.”

“But, Grandpa! There’s a lot of scary stuff out there in the big world. When I grow up, do I have to go out there?”

Big_bird_book_kids“Yes, Elijah, but this isn’t the time to worry about that.”

Ask Mom to turn on Sesame Street. There are lots of fun people on Sesame Street, like Big Bird, to help you get ready for the big world. Or you can come to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house and watch re-runs of Mr. Rogers.”

“Who’s Mr. Rogers?”

“Well, Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister.  Like Grandpa.”

“What’s a Presbyterian?”

“Well, that depends on who you ask, Elijah. Some people call us ‘God’s frozen chosen’  ’cause they think we think we’re special and we don’t show a lot of emotion in worship. But for me, a Presbyterian is someone just like Mr. Rogers.

“So . . . will you help me to tie my shoelaces when I get shoes?”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 1, 2017.