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Stuck Middle: Grandsons nail the bottom line

I think that we all could use a good laugh, and as usual, my grandsons have provided the best grin I have enjoyed in months!


“Buzzy?” inquired Liam, “Why is the virus a pain in the a**?

“Where did you hear that?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“Mason says my a** is the same as my butt …” I was informed candidly as Liam (age 5) pointed to his backside, “and Mason says he heard you say that the virus is a pain in the …”

Oops. Sometimes children can be brutally honest. “Big brothers don’t always tell you things you should hear,” came my retort. “I had two of them, I should know … and you’d better not let Mama, Bubbles or Mimi hear you use that word! Tell Mason I said so.”

“Buzzy?” came the next brutally honest question, “Will my butt hurt if I get it?”

“Probably not.” I replied, thinking that his revised verbiage would never have passed my mother’s muster. I can hear her reminding me not very gently to mind my mouth. She had three sons with occasionally wayward mouths to mind.

Well you would just never guess it was already the middle of summer, would you? Here we are still in this strange Never Never Land, one timid foot firmly hiding under the bed, and the other just itching to trip almost any Light Fantastic. Talk about a conflict of interest. It is making for a very odd season. And yet we persevere, as we must … life will go on either because of us, or in spite of us, and most of us, I think, would rather act than react. Most of us can only lie still for so long.

Now here is the billion-dollar question: how do we act reasonably, intelligently, and safely? Is hiding under the bed in full, NIOSH-approved N95 respirator and gloves armed with an ultraviolet light stick and antiseptic wipes really the only way to be safe until there is a vaccine? Or is a socially distanced dinner out somewhere really no great sin? I will not presume to sit in judgement of those who are simply carrying on with their lives; I understand that many are no longer afraid and will do what they will do, however they choose to do it, virus or no virus. Indeed, life will go on. But most of us, I think, need to find sensible compromises before we can be comfortable, and it is important for us to recognize that one size will not fit all: what I find acceptable may not be so to others. And I know that tolerance is neither natural nor easy, but we must try. Patience is virtue.

“Buzzy …” a troubled Mason (almost 8) began, “I did not tell Liam to use that word! I just told him that you said that the virus is a pain in the … well … you-know-where. Do I have to sit on the steps??”

“No, Mason. You do not have to sit on the steps. But you do need to be careful what you say to your brother because, as I think you know perfectly well, he will repeat you.”

“Buzzy …” continued a relieved but still concerned Mason, “will my butt really hurt if I get the virus?”

“I think your SEAT will be just fine, Mason. Please don’t worry. Now, run and play.”

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Bill Humleker's Stuck in the Late Middle column focuses on children, grandchildren, friends and culture in what he calls HendoRock.