When my sister and I were little, we never had hard hats. We didn’t have latex gloves. That might be because they didn’t make them back them, but we didn’t have gloves made out of dinosaur skin either. I never had a gas mask. I was so deprived. Daddy sold safety supplies back then, too, but he wasn’t as nice to us. I’m not sure he even liked us. He had no problem telling us no. In fact, I think he made a sport of it.
One thing we did have was Gatorade. I know, you’re thinking everyone has Gatorade. However, if you can remember that far back, Gatorade was not always available. It did not start being sold in stores until the middle to late ‘80s. We had Gatorade at our house in the ‘70s. It was powdery, lime-flavored Gatorade, but it was Gatorade none-the-less. If you think that made us cool, you are wrong. No one knew what Gatorade was, so it did not increase our popularity at all. In fact, when we tried to give it to our friends, they would take one sip and say, “Ew. What is this stuff?”
Daddy sold Gatorade through his safety supply company because construction workers used it to stay hydrated. Daddy used it too after he went jogging. I didn’t drink it (and I didn’t jog.). That lime flavor was disgusting. It still is.
It is amazing how much grandparents transform between having their own kids and having grandkids. Daddy was never mean, but he certainly did not have any problem telling us no or spanking us or punishing us when needed. (That’s why I turned out so well. My sister? Well…) Actually, that last statement is just a test to see if my sister actually reads my blog.
With the grandkids, Daddy is like a big marshmallow. Actually, he’s not all that big, but he’s a marshmallow anyway. “Granddaddy, will you buy me some candy?” “Sure!” “Granddaddy, will you buy me a toy?” “Sure!” “Grangraddy, can I have this hard hat?” “Sure! Take two!” (“Grangraddy” is the Beetle. That’s how he has always said Granddaddy’s name.)
The result is that my kids have safety supplies. They’ll eye something in his garage, and it’s as good as theirs. Gloves? “Sure!” Rubber boots? “Why not?” $150 sound-canceling ear muffs. “You betcha!” Since they were old enough to talk, my kids have played with hard hats, gloves, safety vests, traffic cones and safety glasses. They even had those flags that construction workers use to wave traffic forward, until they started beating the snot out of each other with them. Then, we had to take them away and put them in the collection of wayward toys.
The Beetle once had a birthday party where each child went home with a real hard hat. No party store cheapies for us! He also has a hat hard shaped like a cowboy hat. (No kidding.) The Goose had a hot pink hard hat until she decided that pink was an offensive color. Now, I’m sure she has one or two blue ones in her room (somewhere, under all that stuff in the closet).
You would think at age 15 that the Beetle would no longer want safety supplies. However, he still does. He comes home constantly with a new flashlight or a new pair of safety glasses. For a while, both kids had a box of latex gloves with their names marked on them. We’ve used latex gloves as water balloons and hats. We’ve used latex gloves as bean bags. We’ve used latex gloves in all kinds of ways. Once, we used one as the utter for a cow we made in science. Then, we milked it. That was fun.
Last night, the Beetle came home with his very own rain suit complete with suspenders. He has quite a look going in those pants. I might not have to worry about him dating for a while.
As long as Granddaddy is around, I know my kids are set with whatever they need. Whether it’s candy, toys, games or gloves, he’s the man! No matter what the request, if it’s for the grandkids, it’s as good as done. -Al
Addendum to the story: My sister, AKA The Wild Child, reminded me that Daddy also would bring home glowsticks back before stores sold them. That did add to our coolness factor a little. It didn't help much, but anything was better than nothing....