Welcome to the merry-go-round

Welcome to the world, little blue eyes. It can be a crazy merry-go-round ride, but I do hope it treats you well.

By well, I don’t mean a life that comes easy, or is filled with excess. I hope it challenges you every day, even knocks you down some, because without that, you’d never learn how to get up. I wish you passions and adventures. Skinned knees and broken hearts, but more than enough laughter and joy to heal them over. You only get the one ride on this merry-go-round, blue eyes – use up every second of it. Climb, run, explore, jump in the mud puddle once in a while. Have your own mind and don’t be afraid to speak it, but try to listen a little more than you talk. Don’t let anybody push you around, but learn that real strength comes not from being able to push someone down, but in being able to pick someone up. Take time to walk barefoot on the beach, count the stars, stop to watch a sunset paint the sky.

Little blue eyes, we’re glad to see you. Within about an hour of your arrival in the world, your picture had been shown to 1,907 people, I kid you not. I used social media, only because I couldn’t find a skywriter biplane in the middle of the night, a serious oversight by the aviation industry, in my humble opinion.

I hope to be around to toss a football with you, to take walks in the woods with you, and to buy you your first set of drums to play for your parents in many, many impromptu concerts at 3 a.m.

From what I hear, you are good at this baby thing, which is excellent news, because I’m going to need some help, blue eyes.

It has been a long while since there’s been a baby in my life, and I’m not sure I know how to do this grandparenting thing. You didn’t come with an instruction manual, another serious oversight.

What if they have changed the way you’re supposed to hold them, and nobody told me?

What if diapers are now electronic or virtual – where do you charge them? At the time of the last baby that I examined close up, who is now a college junior, one fed them by pretending the spoon was an airplane swooping in for a landing. I’m sure that is outmoded now. I’m not sure I have the technology. Why isn’t there a class for this?

I’m aware that kids today don’t realize there is an outside, unless perhaps they see pictures of it on the computer they are parked in front of all day. Fair warning, blue eyes, I am not going to be that type of grandfather. You’re going to get wet, dirty, sweaty and seriously stinky. Then I’ll drop you off at your Mom’s.

I am so far out of the loop, blue eyes, you are going to have to school me. When last I knew, kids followed Barny the purple dinosaur, Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers. Your mother’s favorite toys were a farm set and a rocking horse, and I still have them somewhere in a basement that is ripe for exploration.

Last I knew, kids liked books read to them like “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “Winnie the Pooh.” They watched movies like “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “Toy Story.” These are all over 20 years old now – where did all that time go? Maybe you will still like some of those things. If you promise to indulge me a bit, I’ll return the favor and do my best to find out what kids are into these days. We’ll work it out.

I recall having to crawl through the giant kiddie maze at Burger King to rescue your mom or her little brother when they’d get stuck in a colorful plastic tube at the very top as toddlers. I hope I can still do that, though I doubt that I can do it any more gracefully than I did 20 years ago, which is to say, something like a rabid rhinoceros trying on a ball gown.

I really should have kept up more on this kids’ stuff. I’m counting on my impressive lack of maturity to help me in catching up, little blue eyes. By the time you’re acting 8, I probably will be too. Heck, by the time you’re out of diapers, I might be in them.

Chances are I will powder the wrong end of you in attempting a changing, and possibly strap you upside down in one of those complicated car seats by accident at least once. I might confuse a jar of baby food with a can of pet food. I’ll have your freshman year application in to Iowa State well before you turn one. You’re going to have to have patience with me. All this is as new to me as it is to you.

Man, am I going to enjoy watching you grow and discover the world. I’m counting on it being a good one.

Things change when you have a grandchild. Suddenly, things matter on more than a philosophical plane. It’s not that we should take care of the world, now, it’s that we have to. Right freaking now!

There have to be beaches and woods to trek as you grow up, blue eyes, and when your blue-eyed babies grow up someday. There can’t be still be wars waged by foolish, prideful politicians oh so ready to send young people to die. There can’t be people looked down upon because of the color of their skin, the language they speak or the religion they follow; we allowed that way too long as it was.

There can’t be people still left to go hungry in a land of such plenty then, or cancers still left uncured as we play pro basketball players more than our greatest doctors.

I suddenly realize, we haven’t done the job. Too often we’ve accepted it when we’ve been told things couldn’t be changed. You will do better when it is your turn, blue eyes, but until then, we had best work harder.

Welcome to the merry-go-round. It’s not perfect, but there is beauty and joy in this world still, if you know where to look. Feels to me like a better place already with you in it. Welcome, blue eyes, it’s all yours.

Dana Larsen is editor of the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune and a former staff writer at The Messenger.