The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

February 12, 2012

Tom Lavis | Inquisitive grandchildren baffle Pap

To me, there is nothing more enjoyable than being a grandfather.

A grandfather gets to spend time with his grandchildren and capture those moments he may have missed out on with his own children when he was busy with his career.

I have learned that a grandfather should be careful to remember that, when it comes to raising grandchildren, parents have the final say.

I know my father took liberties with my children. Even if it was something like slipping one of the boys $20 to mow his postage-stamp size yard.

“Dad, it only takes them five minutes to cut your grass,” I once told him.

I tried to stop him from spoiling the kids, but he simply told me to shut up; it was his money and he would do whatever the heck he wanted with it.

Now that I’m a grandfather, I know exactly what he meant.

From my vantage point, I feel it’s my job to help make memories and guide the grandkids the best I can.

Whether it’s fishing on my boat, trips to the zoo, miniature golf or setting up a checkerboard, spending time with the grandkids always seems to turn into an adventure.

As they get older, they realize that the best way to learn something is to ask questions.

As long as they don’t ask me something like how many megs in a gig, I’m fairly confident I can come up with acceptable answers.

Questions come fast and furious.

That happened several months ago when I picked up four of our grandkids after I got off work and transported them to our house for an overnight stay.

I had my extended-cab pickup truck and the rear seat is equipped with a baby seat for my            2-year-old granddaughter, Brynne,  and two booster seats for my grandsons, Blake, 5, and Parker, 7.

This was a maiden voyage for my oldest granddaughter, Lauren, who is 9.

Because Lauren is now old enough and is the proper weight, she is able to ride in a vehicle using only a seat belt.

We loaded overnight bags, Pillow Pets, a Barbie Dream House, a high chair and playpen into the bed of my truck.

I helped strap the younger kids into their seats and Lauren climbed onto the front seat.

It was a big moment for me, too. This was the first time I didn’t have to look in the rearview mirror to make eye contact with her.

She is older, but I couldn’t help remembering that she gave me one of the most powerful handclasps as a newborn when she wrapped her hand around my finger.

She buckled up like an adult and I yelled, “Wagons Ho!”

That opened the floodgate of questions.

“What’s that mean, Pap,” Blake asked.

I didn’t have enough time to explain about Ward Bond and the TV show “Wagon Train,” so I said it means: “Let’s go.”

“What is that?” Lauren asked.

I was puzzled. I didn’t know what she meant and I asked her, “What is what?”

“That,” pointing to the window crank on my truck. “How does it work?”

I told her how to use it and for the next five minutes, the passenger window was going up and down as the other kids giggled.

“How can birds fly?” Parker said, changing the subject.

“They have hollow bones and they’re lighter than air,” I said.

“Do dolphins talk to each other?”

“Yes,” I said.

I changed the subject and asked a question of my own.

“Did you get your sweethearts chocolates for Valentine’s Day?”

The older kids responded by yelling no way and denied having secret admirers.

From a rear booster seat, Parker asked, “How can chocolate be white?”

Puzzled, I gave him the universal grandfather response, “Ask your grandma.”

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Tom Lavis

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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