Thursday, February 19, 2009

Out of the mouths of........

I’ve mentioned before that my mother-in-law is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the things that seems to keep her more alert or aware is when she is around her great grandkids. During the day my daughter-in-law Melina stays with her and my two year old granddaughter, Angelina and my six year old grandson, Alex, get to visit with their great grandmother. (When he gets out of school)

You never know what those kids will say.

I had to run up to my mother-in-law’s house yesterday to meet a plumber.

“Hey Poppa.”

“Hey Alex.”

“Hi Tony.”

“Angelina! That’s your Poppa not Tony.”

“That’s okay Melina she can call me whatever she wants.”

“Hi Poppa. I love you.”

“I love you too sweetheart.”

“Look at me. I’m pretty.”

(I might as well get the money clip out right now because that little girl is going to cost me a fortune.)

“Hey Poppa?”

“Yes Alex.”

“I’m sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Because of the recession.”


“The recession? Why would you be sad about the recession?”

“I don’t know what it is.”

“Well you’re not alone little buddy.”

“A lot of my friends at school are sad too.”

“You talk about the recession in class?”


“Um… so where do you talk about it?”

“At lunch.”

(I have this image in my head of a group of six year olds sitting around eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches debating the stimulus package.)

“Alex why would you talk about the recession?”

“Cause a lot of my friends can’t get toys and stuff because their parents don’t have any money because of the recession.”

There’s not a lot that can make me speechless but when you hear something like that from the mouth of a six year old you need to take a moment.


“The recession sucks Poppa.”

“Yes it does.”



“Do you know what a recession is?”

“Yes I do. A recession is when gross domestic production slows, businesses stop expanding, employment falls, unemployment rises, and housing prices decline.”

“Poppa I’m in the first grade now you don’t have to make stuff up anymore.”

“You’re right. A recession happens when you have eight years of ignorance and incompetence from your elected offcials.”

“What’s a depression?”

“Well a depression happens when the Democrats control the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives or when your grandmother misses the Nordstrom yearly half off sale.”
“Okay Poppa.”

At this moment my beautiful angel of a granddaughter comes over and socks her brother in the nuts. And then “she” starts to cry!

“Alex! Did you touch your sister?”

“No mom honest! I didn’t! Honest! She just socked me in the privates.”

“You must have done something.”

“Honest mom I didn’t! I can’t lie. I’m honest it’s a character trait of mine.”


“A character trait? Alex when did you learn about character traits?”

“Helloooo Poppa. I’m in the first grade.”

“He’s right Melina. Angelina just walked up and socked him in the nuts.”

“In the privates Poppa, we’re not supposed to say nuts.”

“Sorry… She socked him in the privates.”

“Angelina why did you sock your brother?”

“I’m pretty.”

“I think she was upset that I was paying too much attention to Alex.”

“Well she can’t go around socking people in the nuts.”

“You mean privates mom.”

“I know Alex.”

So I met with the plumber and hung out for awhile with the kids.

As I was leaving……

“It really was my nuts Poppa. I don’t see what the big deal is. Nuts are nuts. It’s not like I said she socked me in the balls.”

“That’s true.”

“Give Poppa a kiss goodbye Angelina.”



“Poppa stay.”

“Poppa has to go sweetie. I love you very much.”

“Look at me. I’m pretty.”

“Yes you are. You’re gorgeous.”

“Bye Tony.”

“Poppa Angelina! Goodbye Poppa!”

“Boy my sister can be a real pain. I’m glad I don’t have to be married to her. Give me a hug Poppa.”

Now she starts crying…..

“Okay sweetheart Poppa will hug you too.”

Alex shaking his head…. “She gets everything with that.”

As I was driving away the thought hit me that all the stress of these tough economic times doesn’t just hit adults. How our children and grandchildren deal with it goes unseen by many of us. I suspect even high school age young adults are feeling the effects and feel scared and unsure.

Many of us have lost jobs or know people that have. We know people that are losing their homes or businesses. Things are going to get a lot tougher before they get better. There are no simple solutions and whether we like it or not the world we live in today is going to go through tremendous change over the next few years.

In times like these there is nothing more important than family. Communicate with everyone, kids included. Don’t frighten them but explain the facts to them as simply as possible. Above all listen. You’d be surprised at some of the ideas kids can come up with.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he said that all the negative news was making people sick. He told me that more and more people that he knew were diagnosed with cancer or some other illness. He was positive that negativity breeds negativity. That stress causes illness.

I think he’s right. We can’t ignore reality but we can control how we react to it. Jim Valvano, The North Carolina State basketball coach said the following while he was fighting his battle with cancer.

"I'm fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how's your day, and nothing is changed for me. I'm a very emotional, passionate man. I can't help it. That's being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love. And when people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it's the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

There isn't much I can add to that.