The mother of an adolescent know-it-all, a surly 12-year-old, urged the boy to pay attention and tell the waitress what he wanted for lunch.
“She can’t read your mind,” the mother said of the waitress.
“Yes, she can,” said a man nearby, speaking of the waitress. “She’s a grandmother.”
Almost everybody within earshot laughed. They knew that not only can grandmothers read your mind in the here and now but they can often peer into the future and read what is likely to be running through a maturing kid’s mind 20 year from now.
Grandmothers have had enough experience with a lifetime of runty rascals to have a pretty good idea of which kids are likely to stay out of jail in life, and I don’t just mean Wall Street’s slippery bankers.
By the time a kid is 3 or 4, his savvy old grandma has seen enough of those kinds of genes to read a small mind before it becomes fully ripened. You can tell as soon as a pumpkin appears on the vine what it’s going to look like at the end of the growing season and kids are often no different.
That’s why everyone but the kid laughed the other day at the man’s observation on grandmothers. The kid didn’t laugh because he found it difficult enough hanging out with adults. He couldn’t manage more than a disgusted sneer as he rolled his eyes at such simpletons.
He was a classic example of something Mark Twain allegedly said about sassy 14-year-olds. As I looked up the quote on the Internet, I encountered comments by researchers who say it appears that Twain never said any such thing, even though the comment fits him like a Missouri glove.
The quote has several variations, but they all go something like this.’”
“When I was 14, my father was so stupid I could hardly stand to be in the same room with him. But when I was 21, I was surprised how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
That was the same attitude displayed the other day with that crabby kid who had been condemned to spend a few hours with his elders rather than hang out in the real, happening world.
Mind you, I am not saying that there aren’t scads of 14-year-olds who would love a few hours with their grandmas, especially if it’s at a contemporary clothing store and she’s buying.
But why can’t all kids be like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? Biographies I have read about both of them reveal that they went a little goofy for maybe a few months of their adolescence. But they cleaned up their snotty kid acts in record time and came out of the whole thing openly loving and respecting their family elders.
However, if the truth be known, some elders are still a bit too full of themselves on into their 80s. That includes campaign specialists who make their grubby living smearing nice guys like Obama and Romney.
I’m not saying decent politicians are correct in many of their big ideas, but they deserve at least 80 percent of the respect that grandmas have earned.
And there is justice in the world — the useful, edifying kind of justice that causes grumpy half-baked kids to realize that their old man isn’t so stupid after all. It’s only a decade or two before those former kids become the victims of their own unmanageable little twits.
Meanwhile, Providence has given grandparents the great and generous gift of a fading memory. That allows people my age the bogus belief that they never sassed nor disrespected their own sweet old grannies.Bill Hall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501