For the first time, I have the honor of a guest contributor on the blog! The subject of many photos and great stories to date, here is the man, the legend, my best friend, my beloved husband, Grouchy, bringing a daddy's perspective to parenting and loving our sweet Garrett. I know you will enjoy this insight, and by the way, he is an INCREDIBLE writer!!! And that's how he made me fall for him....through 6 months of letter-writing before we ever met in person. I will blog that another day when I have LOTS of time. Enjoy!!! Godspeed, CL
Garrett’s Done it Again! Or, ‘Where’s Garrett?’
‘Where’s Garrett?’ is a question we ask each other multiple times every day. It’s a combination question of who’s watching him, what valuable items are in danger, is he clean/dry, is he safe… and so on. But to others, it’s a genuine curiosity and hint of ‘I wish Garrett were with you’ when we see them without Garrett.
Garrett has a string of beautiful teenage girls who call him on 5-6 days/week. One of them gets him off the bus at noon and plays with him until 3:30 when another one intercepts him and plays with him until late evening, often times bathing him, feeding him and putting him in bed. Garrett’s 6 and he has more - and more concentrated - female attention than I’ve ever had… And everyone knows my lovely wife gives me more than I deserve, so that is not a complaint. Even though these charming young ladies are compensated for their time, their dedication is a tribute to Garrett, not the almighty dollar.
Garrett has his own horse trainer. Oh, he doesn’t have his own horse yet. But he has a horse trainer that is more interested in him than the horses I paid him to train. I met George through a mutual friend. A grandpa who is easing out of the training side of horses, but still making his living shoeing the critters, George is a reining horse champion who works with his son, Mike, training and shoeing. They’re the kind of pure authentic country neighbors we have that both talk bad about the other, but with a smile so wide you know it’s just their way of loving each other. So when I went to see how our horses were doing that he was training, I tried to pick an evening that they were riding and that I had Ainslee with me, but not Garrett and that wasn’t Gymnastics, AWANA, Dance or piano… so I ended up with Garrett and Ainslee. As we all three approached the round pen where Mike was riding one of our young ‘uns and George was assisting on the ground, I was busy directing Garrett and preparing to apologize for whatever he might unexpectedly do or wherever he might uninvitingly go. But after a couple of minutes of one eye on the horse and one eye on Garrett, George exited the round pen and left me to watch the horse being worked, assuring me that Garrett couldn’t hurt anything around his place. ‘Oh, you don’t know Garrett,’ I thought, as George disappeared, presumably to take care of some of the other mounts around his barn. Next thing I know Garrett is in the middle of the arena with a somewhat broken tricycle in tow and George closely behind. ‘I’ll get him, George,’ I holler, expecting George to be miffed at the interruption of his cold and windy evening routine. ‘You just stay with Mike,’ George hollered back. ‘I’ve got Garrett and we’re just fine.’ ‘We’re just fine,’ I thought. George – a nice guy for sure, but someone who doesn’t even admit to liking people and who has thousands more hours of saddle time than social time – following Garrett like he was his own grandson and forgetting about his chores or anything else. Now, every time I see George – or Mike for that matter – the first question they ask is, ‘Where’s Garrett?’ George stopped by yesterday to check on one of the horses he had trained who is a little lame. He did a quick hoof check, then it was back to the backyard to watch Garrett play. Come to think of it, the only time I’ve seen George laugh is when he’s talking bad about Mike, or watching Garrett.
Ken’s shop is just a couple of miles from our house. Ken knows every rancher, farmer, hunter and fisher in the valley, and on any given day, if you stop in for more than five minutes, you’re sure to meet one of them who’s also stopping in for five minutes. Now, five minutes at Ken’s shop is not five minutes on the clock. Five minutes is a figurative term used to describe the amount of time you actually lose by stopping in, but to be sure, it’s not ever less than 15 – and that’s if you’re in a hurry. It usually involves a cup of coffee if he’s open, or a cup of something better if he’s closing. Ken enjoys his shop being the gathering place to discuss the latest roundup or harvest data. But Ken’s shop is not ‘kid-friendly.’ It’s got big tables of canvas and big machines around to sew it all together, or monogram it, or cut it. But when I stop in with Garrett, Ken is more than willing to donate his flat dolly to the cause of Garrett of pushing it around his shop making train noises, or bus noises, or just noises that he thinks coincide with whatever maneuver he’s executing. And, while notably disturbed by the activities of the kids of some others who stop by and relinquish control of their little ones to the open space of Ken’s shop, Ken is very interested and even engrossed in little JG and his questions about the machines and material that lie around in seemingly random fashion. Invariably, after being offered a cup of coffee, the next question I get when I stop by without Garrett is, ‘Where’s Garrett?’
Heidi is the friend of a friend. A sincere young lady we met at a Dutch Oven cookout at someone’s house. In fact, we didn’t even know the hosts, so we tried to decline the invite based on that fact coupled with the fact that we had no sitter for the evening. After being assured we and our kids were welcome, we found our way to a nice contemporary house in a nice neighborhood. The primary gathering was around the fire in the spacious backyard. No other children were present, and, as usual, Clara-Leigh and I ended up on separate watches, with her manning the inside of the house where people only transited to refresh drinks or raid her chips and dip, and me by the fire or in the area looking out for Garrett when he came outside. Later in the evening, worn out from entertaining Garrett inside, CL made it outside to the fire with JG. And, in spite of the absence of any other children, our two girls had done their usual integration with Addie talking to one or two of the other adults, Ainslee entertaining any and all who would pay attention and Garrett… Garrett was with Heidi. Or, should I say, Heidi was Garrett. Unbeknownst to either of us, Garrett was wrapping another beautiful young lady around his little finger. We would find out later at another similar gathering of mostly the same people when Heidi asked us about Garrett and then went on to explain the connection she had with him, the amazement she had of his mind and his wonderings and his wanderings. She wants to keep Garrett. She wants us to give us an evening off, but really what she wants is an evening on. An evening where she can escape this silly world and all its convention and go with Garrett to that mystical place where he lives in wonder and amazement at the simplest things that the rest of us take for granted or think we understand or are annoyed by.
So, where’s Garrett? Well, on any given day, Garrett can go to the fair – which is our driveway and a big plastic roller coaster that Santa brought; or he can be on stage – which is our living room floor coupled with an iTouch, DSI, play guitar or any other musical instrument to which Garrett can march, gyrate, or do the chicken dance in perfect rhythm; or he can ‘go really fast’ on Dad’s tractor, which is just me and my old 1980 model IH 1086 running it for the sake of running it, but having more fun than it should be because Garrett is propped up on the ledge behind the seat screaming with excitement as go down the ‘roller coaster’ of our driveway and ‘speed’ down the road at 18 Mph to Mr. Bob’s just to turn around do it again; or he can drive his school bus - an old tricycle from his therapist office that they had to get rid of because it no longer met safety standards – with one of his lady friends in tow holding on to a rope and sitting in an easy roller designed for someone 10 years their junior smiling and laughing as they glide through Garrett’s world with him. Where’s Garrett? He’s in a beautiful, magical, mystical place without clocks or schedules or assumptions or convention and anyone who gets to join him gets a glimpse of a better place as well. Yes, my amazing wife and I can always use and appreciate an evening off – an evening to spend with each other or our two little angels who live in the same world as we. But, maybe what we need more often is an evening on – an evening without the rigors and stresses of the clock, the convention, the coldness of our ‘normal’ world.
As for me, I think I’ll go to the fair for a little while this afternoon.