LARRY PENKAVA COLUMN: Grownup grandkids? Hmm …

Published 2:39 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2022

OK, I know, I’m always looking at the past.

But then, I’m old. Unless I live to 150, there are a lot more years behind me to remember than time ahead to look forward to.

Larry Penkava

Now I’m finding out that there may be something in the genes. My oldest grandchild, Mariah Fraley, will be 27 in September. That’s just the age to be young enough to have sharp memories of growing up but old enough to have experienced the shock — and sometimes disappointment — of adulthood.

In recent months Mariah has taken time to introspect, to reflect on her past and present. She surprised me recently with a poem she’s written that’s come at least partially from those thoughts.

Her poem is written in free verse, without rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. It’s just words flowing from her mind to paper.


As children, we look at the world through eyes of wonder, and full of hope.

Until we learn otherwise, the only things that can hurt us are the things that need a band-aid, and a kiss from Mama.

All towels have the potential to be a cape, and kitchen tables and chairs made for the best forts.

We believed what anyone said to us, because at that point, we didn’t know what “lies” were.

All the best desserts were consumed when they weren’t supposed to be.

“No running in the house!” was a challenge we eagerly accepted!

And all trees were perfect for climbing. Even the old well house in Mawmaw’s front yard was a huge mountain — saving us from alligators and hot lava …

When did we start looking through a magnifying glass, finding the faults in others — rather than living life as the adventure it is?

When did our boo-boos become too “Big” and “Serious” for a band-aid, and a kiss from Mama?

Who wrote the rule-book on adulthood that says once we get past a certain age, mud puddles are off limits?

Or when you greet someone, instead of telling them about you helping your kids slay dragons in the backyard, you just settle for “a few more weary days…”

Mariah’s memories of childhood aren’t far from my own recollections. After all, our great-grandkids are keeping them fresh by repeating the acts of their parents.

But going back a few years, I recall Mariah and the other four grandchildren jumping on the well house, which was built with rock walls and an A-frame roof with shingles. Rightly so, I called for them, in my own civilized way, to “Get off before you ruin the shingles!”

As for the tree climbing, the only tree suitable for climbing in our former yard in the country was the beautiful symmetrical dogwood with the tender branches that they tended to break off when putting their weight on them. So much for symmetrical.

I’m pretty sure Mariah and the others — Cody, Katelyn, Chance and Ryan — can recall me running across the backyard with an oversized switch raised over my head yelling for them to “Get out of the tree!” They scattered in every direction screaming, “Pawpoo’s gone crazy!”

Well, all the grandkids are grown now, the youngest being 20. I’m still waiting for them to “just settle for ‘a few more weary days…’ ”

At least they’ve given up splashing in mud puddles … or have they?

I know some of them are still playing video games, just more advanced versions than when they were little tykes.

Sure, they have jobs and responsibilities. Some even have kids of their own.

But you know, I’m not even sure they’ve read “the rule-book on adulthood.”

Maybe I can lend them my copy. If I can find it.

It’s probably underneath the rule-book for raising children and grandchildren.

Which reminds me, whatever happened to my rule-book on senior adulthood?

Heck, it’s probably out of date.

Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact him at 336-302-2189 or