My husband, Roy, is generally considered to be the most patient and the mildest of men. He has to be, or I would have been pushed off a bridge by him years ago. He does have limits, though, and it is never a pretty picture when he is pushed past them.
This week, we played host to our grandsons, hereafter identified as Grandson A, who is ten years old and Grandson B, who is 8. We put these two little boys in the car for an extended road trip on Wednesday, knowing full well that neither of them was excited about a long drive, having endured a six-hour travel time just to get to our house.
Nevertheless, we had business to take care of in Sioux Falls that we didn’t want to put off and then, we planned to drive to the Missouri River near Pierre to enjoy some swimming. Roy had taken the boys before and they had enjoyed it a great deal, so he began this road trip in great anticipation that everyone would fall in line with his plans.
He reckoned without a number of things: First, the business in Sioux Falls involved a medical appointment for me. It was for a treatment which, while it was important, involved having a sore back. It took away a lot of my enthusiasm to do anything afterward besides go home.
Second: The weather. Wednesday was predicted to be a day of over 100 degrees. I am not a fan of hot weather in any case and since I was also not enjoying great health, I began expressing my wish to not stand on the river banks and cook while being eaten alive by little bugs made lively by the heat. When I say I was expressing myself, I mean that for the entire trip from Sioux Falls to Pierre, I gave the weather report every two minutes. “Now it’s 101, good grief, we’ll cook.” “Well, forget it, now it’s 105. We are all going to have heat stroke.” “It’s 103 now. I will not be responsible for the sunburns…I just hope we have enough aloe.”
Third: Grandson A was unimpressed by the road trip and refused to be cajoled over the fun times we would have when we got to the river. In an increasingly loud and plaintive voice, he demanded that we go home, that we not go to the river today, demanding to know whose dumb idea this was, how much longer we had to go, etc. It might not have been quite so bad if we had not forgotten the car chargers for the boys’ tablets. Once they ran out of charge and the only entertainment was to look at a blank screen. Things went downhill from there.
Fourth: Grandson B is now brought into the cacophony of noise in the car when Grandson A, discovering that his protests were not helping, began annoying his younger brother, who reciprocated by hollering and whining for him to “stop that!”
Fifth: The wife employed sarcasm when she remarked (over the noise coming from the backseat), “Oh, now we’re having fun.” This brought increased wails from the back seat where Grandson B cried, “I want to go to the river and have fun!” while Grandson A joined in with a loud lament, “This is NOT fun at all!”
And it is at this point, with a trio of dissenters singing the blues, that the wheels came off of this particular road trip. Fed up to his eyes with the hours-long lack of gratitude for his plan, Roy exploded. He gave that familiar “dad speech” in which he threatened that unless everyone shaped up and had fun immediately, there would be dire consequences. It was the sight of their otherwise patient grandfather and my calm husband, shouting at the top of his lungs and declaring that we were going to have fun if it was the last thing we did, while his face turned scarlet and spittle sprayed everywhere that finally silenced the rest of us.
We traveled the rest of that hideous trip from hell in silence and finally made it to the river with no bloodshed. Once everyone had swimsuits on or like me, sat in the shade with a cool breeze blowing off the water, we all discovered that it was a pretty good plan on such a hot day after all. Thanks to sun screen, water shirts, and late afternoon temperatures, everyone enjoyed the trip to the river a great deal…even if we had been threatened with a good time.
And Grandson A, Grandson B and their grandmother may have learned that there is a point at which Grandpa can lose his famous cool and the wheels can fly off the cart!