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The Sabbath day was not made for man, but rather for Mom and kids.

It seems like only yesterday that our kids finally outgrew their hobby of horsey-back rides on the horsey-bent back of dear old Dad. Now along come their kids expecting dear old Gramps to provide equal entertainment on perfunctory Sunday visits.

Be it a normal Sunday, the little fellers may be content to while away the day in normal childish pursuits--drawing mustaches on family portraits, plugging the toilet with cat food, or (on one special occasion) creating a snowman from dear old Gramps' shaving cream, to name a few.

Then there are Super Bowl Sundays, World Series Sundays, and Sundays that decide the U.S. Open golf title--when nothing will do but to rip old Gramps from the tube and shove him into the car to compete in Sunday-afternoon traffic.

Another problem--if another problem should be required--these two grandsons run over their mother and grandmother like a steamroller runs over a bag of marshmallows. As for the father of these little tykes, if he isn't on the sofa watching the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the U.S. Open golf climax, he is on the sofa snoring up a storm that shakes the draperies.

I now give you the Sunday of two weeks ago, last Sunday being an off-day for dramatic sports on the tube. Once the dinner dishes were neatly stacked in the sink, I suggested that instead of Grandpa competing in Sunday traffic on the highway, why not just turn the boys loose in Grandpa's car with a bag of powdered doughnuts to powder the seat cushions and a can of warm Dr. Pepper each to spray the roof? For dessert, they could fight over a Frisbee-sized lollipop before parking it on the steering wheel between rounds. For success, the idea ranked right up there with panhandling at a nudist camp.

So away we went, all the way to the very end of the driveway without a stop. It was here that little Jason (names have been changed to avoid a possible lawsuit) decided he was hungry. I welcomed the opportunity to suggest that perhaps he wouldn't be hungry had he eaten his mashed potatoes instead of forming them into a castle and making a moat of the gravy (which the female element had found so clever).

With a little "tut-tut now" from dear old Granny (that would be my wife, Lois, on the grandkids' side of the family), she sprang from the car, from which she hasn't sprung in the last 20 years, returning with potato chips estimated to assure a life-threatening thirst by the time we hit the first exit ramp. By a miracle equal to the three days Jonah spent in the belly of the big fish, we made it past three exits before both of the boys were gasping their last.

Though Jason managed to survive with a Dr. Pepper, Chad clung to life only by means of a double-dip cone. He wisely selected tutti-frutti; it goes with everything--his shirt, his elbows, his pants, the car seat, even the back of Grandpa's Sunday jacket.

No sooner had we made a nice return to the highway than Jason, having already guzzled his can of pop, sent another chill down my back by blurting portentously, "Are we going to be stopping anytime soon?"

Pulling onto the shoulder, ironically just this side of an "Emergency Stopping Only" sign, I escorted my little grandson to an emergency bathroom behind a shrub of poison sumac. The best part was, had he not challenged me to a race back to the car, we would have missed seeing the final dip of Chad's tutti-frutti emerge from the bottom of the cone and plop into the ashtray. I pointed it out to the cat the next day.

Now comes a question for the pediatricians: Shouldn't boys born of the same mother--who was born of long-married, conservative Republican parents--be imbued with identical bathroom timing? To which the answer no doubt will be: in a pig's eye! Thus another emergency, brake-squealing stop.

Prudently, I refused Chad's request for a piggyback ride to the nearest stand of poison sumac. Lamentably, I failed to take his hand upon jumping the creek. Though this took care of his immediate problem, he discovered while floundering around in the water that it was teeming with polliwogs. And guess who wanted to take home a batch of these darling little darting devils? If you guessed it wasn't me, you wouldn't be far off.

But how does a doting grandfather (in his dotage, that is) go about collecting a representation of these (see above)? And should he somehow succeed, how could he successfully transport them home?

By removing a rear hubcap, of course. After rolling up the legs of my Sunday pants, I began trying to scoop up a batch of these energetic little @#$%!**s. How the @#$%!**s instinctively recognized that I'd as soon see them dead as hubcapped, I do not know. But they recognized accurately--and reacted accordingly.

At long last, with the rest of the family now gathered on the creek bank shouting instructions and, occasionally, encouragement, I finally made a lucky pass that brought up a total of eight polliwogs, and we headed back to the car. It was only upon reclaiming my shoes and socks that I happened to notice the legs of my Sunday pants had assumed the appearance of having come directly from a high-humidity night on a park bench.

Now nothing more than a straight shot home, hoping to keep our polliwogs still wogging by the time we arrive, right? That's what you think.

First, we had to stop and roll up Grandpa's Sunday jacket in the window to shade the dear little things--which at least would keep the jacket coordinated with his Sunday pants. Second, we had to explain to the officer of the law why we were doing 67 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone.

My excuse that I was trying to reach home with polliwogs still alive in a hubcap does sound a bit weak, now that I think about it. But the nice man, perhaps having at one time brought polliwogs home in a hubcap for his grandsons, allowed us to proceed without benefit of citation.

Both boys, as required by grandson tradition, fell asleep 20 feet from our carport. After carrying them in, I discovered that only one polliwog had made it safely to its new home among the dishes in the kitchen sink. And even it turned up its little wogger before our guests finally said, "See you next Sunday."

Free at last, I took a deep breath and expounded to my dear wife in this fashion:

"If we are to hit the highway on a Sunday outing from here on out, it will be in a rental van with a protective screen between the front and rear seats. If not, then let's at least put our dear son-in-law at the wheel. And if he can't be pried loose from the sofa, there ain't gonna be no Sunday drive after dinner."

To which she, with obvious concern, replied, "Did you remember to lock the back door?"
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Title Annotation:hectic Sundays
Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Sep 1, 1999

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