It’s a bittersweet transition when grandkids graduate away from the “little kid” status you’ve enjoyed for so long. I had a Christmas Day phone visit with Miles – he just turned 11 – and he informed me that he and Dad were watching NFL games together.
“Wonderful!” I said. “So you’re liking football?”
“Yeah. It’s fun watching.”
I asked him what teams he liked, and was pleased when Miles denounced the San Francisco Forty-Niners. “Good boy,” I told him. But decided to say nothing when he said he and Dad were rooting for the Packers to get into the playoffs.
Then “Papa” proceeded to give him a brief phone quiz. “All right, smart-o. You’re the quarterback. It’s third and eight. What are you gonna do?”
To my surprise, he equivocated. “Um, well, it depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“Well, what did we do on the first two downs? Run or pass? If I already passed on second down, I wouldn’t pass again.”
“Wrong!” I shouted. “Wrong! If it’s third down and you need eight yards for a first, don’t you have to pass? Isn’t that kind of automatic?”
(GRANDPA NOTE: pretty much true unless you’re leading in the fourth quarter and are just trying to run out the clock. Then running on every play is standard NFL dogma.)
“Um, I don’t know.”
I was sensing a sports-talk rift building between us, and hastened to mend bridges. “So you like the Packers and don’t like San Francisco. Any other teams you cheer for?”
His answer was crisp. “Well, Dad and I totally hate the Dallas Cowboys.”
It took me a few seconds to find my voice and when I did so my eyes were brimming with tears. “I love you so much, Miles,” I choked. “You’re a wonderful grandson.”