Publisher's Pick: Grandparent's fashion tale celebrates uniqueness


All right folks, you must stop leading me on. Really.

Some readers — I emphasize some not all — tell me they like it when I occasionally write about my grandchildren. I am tempted to believe what I hear. Never seduce a proud grandpa who writes a newspaper column.

First, the temptation leads me to believe the sun rises and sets on my little darlings. It does seem to shine brighter when we're together, but then again, they are MY little darlings. Of course, the sun does what it must, and I will not argue.

Second, there's already a fine grandpa column by Loren Else every Wednesday in another section of this newspaper. I try not to envy that his little darlings are closer to DeeDee and him while mine live in Illinois. That is to say, I don't begrudge the check I sign to pay Loren for his license to indulge his weekly grandparent-ness. It's that I just glow a little green each week when I read his charming commentary.

Flurry of phones


If you panic that the grandparent whimsy of my column today will not be your cup of whiskey, please do not read on. My defense is to lay blame on Julie and Steve Troutman, a lovely couple if ever there is. Julie told me Saturday she likes it when I write about my grandkids. Thus, today's tale is because I fell easy prey to Julie's blandishments.

There I was, with Sheryl, Saturday afternoon on a Lanesboro sidewalk. We were in the company of Cindy and Steve Lehmkuhle, another pair of proud grandparents. Even more geographically challenged than the Chapmans, the Lehmkuhles' two grand-girls are in eastern Ohio.

Bursting out of a Lanesboro antique shop, Julie and Steve were glad to see us walking by. At long last, the Troutmans, who celebrate their first grandchild — a wee beauty only 17-weeks-old — had pictures to share.

Among the three couples, we have six grandchildren, all age 5 or younger. When we are together, it takes but a nanosecond for one granny or another to whip out a smartphone to share the latest gallery of kinder shots. All the other grannies follow suit, furiously finger swiping photo galleries, oohing and aahing and exclaiming as if no other grandbabies could compare than all our own.

I would be remiss not to mention the same explosion of photo-sharing occurs when we bump into Allie and Andy Good, Carol and Pete Carryer and other folks cut from the same grandparent's cloth.

If memory serves me correctly, there could have been as many as four smartphones and their fanatic owners blocking Lanesboro's sidewalk traffic for a good 15 minutes. We men just hung by, beaming, as kiddie kudos were shared like a bowl of salted bar peanuts.

Note to self: I need to start hanging out with younger couples.

Fashion lesson


Unquestionably, there is more than photo sharing among the grandparent's club. Patiently and politely, we hear stories from one another, the latest feats and misadventures. When all is said and done, we really do enjoy the camaraderie of a covey of grandparents.

I now must lay more blame for what is about to transpire next.

Bless his kind heart, Steve Lehmkuhle urged Sheryl to share a story with the Troutmans that he heard after my grandkids visited Memorial Day weekend. As you read what follows, imagine Sheryl as a shaft of sunlight, beaming from encouragement, to be what she was meant to be: a grandma.

The plan late one afternoon was to take the grandkids — Lizzy, 5; Charlotte, 3; and Nate, 8 months — for a walk on a nearby trail. Son Seth had taken early morning runs along the trail and noticed it dipped close to the shallow branch waters of the Zumbro River. What fun, he thought, to let the two girls wade with him in the cool, ankle-deep waters on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Getting the children changed and dressed for the watery outing was a byzantine affair of finding swim togs and athletic shoes suitable for a mile hike to the river bank. Charlotte was easy and always is when it comes to clothing choices. Lizzy's another story. Her 5-year-old fashion sense kicked in, not a trifling matter. Although she agreed to cute pink top and shorts, Lizzy balked at wearing pink athletic shoes.

This is the place in Grandma's story that child logic astounds.

"Let me see what this outfit looks like in Grandma's full-length mirror," Lizzy declared. Off she trooped to our bedroom. "Nope," she proclaimed, "these shoes just don't work."

Lizzy insisted on wearing brown cowboy boots with her pink shorts outfit, quite a fashion statement. Lizzy took notice when Mom and Grandma rolled their collective eyes. She couldn't care less when advised that a mile hike each way would be uncomfortable in cowboy boots.


It was then when Lizzy exerted her 5-year-old view of how the world should work.

"Look, Mom," said Lizzy confidently. "I have a different style than Grandma and you." To further confirm her wisdom on such matters, Lizzy pointed an index finger, declaring, "Mom, you know about fingerprints, don't you? All fingerprints are different. Just like my fingerprint, Mom, my style is different than your's and Grandma's."

Fashion case closed. No sense arguing fingerprint logic with a 5-year-old, a lesson we all should grasp.

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