You never know where that special bond with a grandchild is going to come from. Paterfamilias has long had a special relationship with his grandson, who's now 11. When we go visit our son and his family or they come visit us, PF and grandson kick the soccer ball, throw basketballs through hoops, have a catch with a baseball. And then there are the touch football games at Thanksgiving: women, and more particularly grammies, are not specifically excluded but they aren't exactly welcome either.
This year, when our families were vacationing together in Vermont, we were blessed with a rainy Monday morning. I say blessed because PF had come back from his morning coffee run with the New York Times. After he and grandson poured over baseball stats and soccer results, I opened the paper to the crossword puzzle and asked my grandson for help with a clue--the name of some baseball player who had won some obscure award years ago. Of course, he knew it right off the bat. Nothing baseball is obscure to an 11-year-old. So he sat down and wrote the answer in the appropriate boxes. While he scanned the other clues for another answer he would know, I suggested he hold back. "Let's work around the answer we've got," I said. And so it went, we worked away at the crossword puzzle--the Monday Times crossword being the easiest of the week. We used my laptop to look up the names of Greek mythology figures and the like--this was, after all, a learning experience. We noodled over the many ways we could interpret different word clues. Reader, he finished it. Tuesday, I warned him, would be tougher. And it was, but between the Internet and occasional input from other adults, we completed that one, too.
We didn't have time for the Wednesday, the progressively more difficult puzzle--our son and family were heading home--but I promised I would save it. We were staying in Vermont another week but would be overnighting at his house on our way home. I would bring it with me and we could do it together then.
And so it was that we sat at his kitchen table and worked at the Wednesday puzzle with our usual tools. It took a while but we finished all but one little square. We were very pleased with ourselves. We may never crack a Saturday puzzle--it's only for the crossword Super Gods--but we now have our New York Times moments to look forward to. It's not soccer, but it is a special game we do together. Bring on Thursday puzzles. I now have a partner.