Those Little Aliens In Our Lives
Wednesday - June 28, 2006
When writer Gore Vidal quipped “Never have children, only grandchildren,” I doubt he’d yet had the experience of stepping on a tiny, sharp Lego piece deviously disguised as tuft of carpet.
While our grandchildren, boys between the ages of 8 and almost 3, were visiting last week, I had this painful experience.
Evidently I haven’t been paying attention for a long, long time because I had no idea how much Legos have changed since my children were children. In those days, my little geniuses connected red, green and blue Lego blocks together to make still bigger blocks. Later they graduated to making what they called “buildings” with smaller pieces, which still resulted in blocks, only bigger.
Now our grandchildren, at 3, 5 and 8, are building aircraft carriers and nuclear power plants out of Legos using more than 4 jillion plastic parts the same color as our carpet. Then they dismantle their work and create space ships and vast armies of robots they call Bionicles.
All this leads me to believe that grandchildren are really not children at all, but actually aliens from another galaxy sent here to mess with us Baby Boomers as punishment for the 1960s. It makes so much sense.
Think about it. Take your cell phone, for example. How long does it take you to figure out how to send a text message, or take a picture and send it by e-mail? And how long does it take your grandchild to do it?
I rest my case. They can’t really be children.
My theory was further proven at Bishop Museum’s Science Adventure Center, where an exhibit actually lets you control an underwater camera used for oceanography and shipwreck exploration. The 8-year-old twins took the joystick and throttle and made that camera move, while I was still carefully reading the directions.
Then there’s the Grossology exhibit, aka “How to Make Grammy Nauseated in 20 Minutes or Less.” Any human would be totally grossed out by displays of fake vomit, bowels full of poop, and the chance to guess smells: Is it B.O., flatulence, stinky feet or bad breath? Not these kids. They were totally fine with stirring up stomach gases to make a burp erupt on the burp-o-meter and lob balls into hairy nostrils. They’re aliens, all of them.
But then it can be confusing, too. When they say, “Grammy, look what I made for you,” and it’s a stone from the garden with a happy face drawn on it or a Lego creature that’s supposed to be you, you wonder. When they crawl up in your lap and give you a kiss or reach their little hand up into yours and say, “I love you, Grammy,” you wonder. Are they really so different from your children when they were little? Are they really aliens?
I think of the more than 3,000 grandparents on Oahu who are raising their grandchildren because their own children weren’t mature enough, healthy enough or responsible enough to raise them. It’s sobering to imagine Lego pieces permanently underfoot.
Then I think of the sticky little hand reaching up and the I love yous, and realize the real reason God made grandchildren: to show you he’s forgiven you for the ‘60s.
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