'Grawdj' and other strange tales

My youngest (the newly minted geologist) has always puzzled me just a bit. In a fun way. Well, most of the time.

For example, when he was 18 months old he became a little obsessed with garages. All kinds.

I didn't even know he had the word in his vocabulary. He wasn't a big talker in those days, which wasn't too surprising, given that he had two older siblings with strong personalities who voiced strong, mostly opposing, opinions rather loudly.

But one day we were driving in downtown St. Paul, and from his car seat out shot a wee finger pointing to a multi-story parking ramp, and to accompany the gesture, a one-syllable utterance: grawdj.

I didn't quite believe my ears, because I was expecting to hear such words as "ball" or "doggie" or "passie." But soon enough we passed another parking ramp and the word popped out again.


Strange, I thought, but . . .
"Sean, for the love of God, will you please stop shooting spitwads at your little sister!" And, well, you know how that goes.

Soon we were back in our neighborhood and I turned into the alley to put the car in the  . . .

Mom. Grawdj.

OK, so now I was convinced. Somehow, somewhere my baby had figured out that structures in which cars were parked -- be they crammed with bikes, gardening tools, and unpacked boxes from the last move or multilevel, color-coded ramps with stinky elevators -- were called garages.

And then, poof, the word just disappeared into that fuzzy blonde-haired head where all kinds of other mysterious and surprising things were brewing and would eventually emerge. Like fear at age 4 that the world might stop spinning and gravity would cease and all things would float away. Or worries about what the house was built of, and if it was wood, might termites eat it all away.
But at 18 months, my budding RockStar who was obsessed with garages was apparently also plotting The Great Escape.

Now I'm not saying it wasn't my fault, because back then (before I knew better) everything was my fault. But it was awfully hot that afternoon and I did open the front door so we could get some breeze moving through the screened porch, and I might have forgotten to hook the latch on the screen door.

Because there I was cooking dinner, just like a good mom and wife, when my nosy next-door neighbor, retired Fred, came inside and asked me if I knew that my toddler was walking down the block headed toward busy France Avenue.


Shot through with enough adrenaline to lift a garage and two cars, I bolted out the door, terrified that I'd lost my little one forever. I flew down the street in the direction I thought he might have taken. Horrific scenarios played through my head as I rounded the corner of 54th street to see cars whipping by one block ahead at France Avenue.

And then it dawned on me.

I got to the corner of France and 54th and looked to my right.

Sure enough.

There, barefoot and standing in a droopy diaper, was my little RockStar with his nose and forehead pressed against the plate glass window of a Jiffy Lube Oil Change.

I ran up to him, threw my arms around the little urchin, unsure whether to scold him or shriek with relief.

He smiled at me with his big blue eyes, drool shining his perfect little chin. Then he pointed inside, and with unadulterated joy, he exclaimed:

Mom, grawdj!


Epilogue:  The mystery continues. The obsession apparently had nothing to do with what gets parked inside garages. To this day he still doesn't have a driver's license. Not that he couldn't. Apparently, it just never interested him. Now rocks, on the other hand . . .

Image 1 by heathbrandon
Image 2 by aur2899
Image 3 by emdot
Image 4 by Thomas Hawk


david mcmahon said…
Kathleen, my Mum, who raised four sons without a heart attack, would have cherished this post. She SO would have wanted to meet you to share some tales.

Wonderful to hear about your camera and the joy it is bringing you. I understand, totally. One of the great joys of having a camera in your hand is the ability to see great beauty in the seemingly mundane.
Congratulations! on your post of the week win.
Been there done that and still got the T-shirt, after raising 5 little urchins just like yours!!! now it is grandchildren who keep me smiling. ( and the odd panic!)
Love Granny
Anonymous said…
I love this story, and boy was I running with you, even in front of you. Congrats on making POTD.
jinksy said…
What an adorable story! My daughter used to have some delightful words, too 'Conkery' (Concrete) and 'Parcarck' (Car Park) being my favourites...
Gaston Studio said…
Congrats on POTD; what an amazing story. Maybe he liked the smells!
Jeni said…
My older grandson became obsessed early on in his life with dinosaurs -still is but to a much lesser degree these days. His "thing" now is hunting, fishing and all clothing camoflage. (Seems I can't spell that word, hmmmm.) My granddaughter, gets obsessions from time to time too -her latest being booster seats for cars as she is trying to convince her mother I think of the pressing need to replace the half-seat booster car seat for one with a full back. She asks everyone -including total strangers -"What kind of seat do you sit in?" The younger grandson has his own little obsessions beginning to surface from time to time now too -currently his is any kind of ball. I have mine too -but mine is more of an addiction to crafts -a need to add more embroidery projects, buy more yarn, bring home more fabric with plans to sew and yet it ends up in a box, stored for years on end! I guess we all get these things that attract us as we enter one phase and leave another until eventually we land on something that keeps drawing us back, again and again. Loved this post and congrats on getting David's POTD award!
ellen abbott said…
Cute story. My son, growing up, had two great talents. He was a disassembler (anything in his hands for more than 5 minutes was in pieces) and a finder (that kid found more money laying on the ground than anyone I ever knew, plus all the other cool stuff he would drag home).
~ ennui ~ said…
You have a way of telling the story like no other. Love it.
katherine. said…
came by way of david...congrats on the POTD.

This is a wonderful story about your newly minted geologist.

Isn't it amazing how those stories stay in our hearts over the years?

and they make for good blackmail material...smile
katherine. said…
(and WHY did your nosy neighbor just bring the boy back????? sheesh)
Pyzahn said…
Ah yes, my dear, you do tell a great story. So true to life, so captivating.

But, whaaa? Post of the week? Where? When? I gotta get out of my trolling rut. Sorry I missed the kudos...but I think you are ALWAYS fab.
Rudee said…
What a great story. There is something special about a little boy's infatuations.
Elizabeth said…
Great story! It's so interesting what our children choose to express early on. My twins, who we adopted from Vietnam when they were six months old, said their first (English) words at 6 1/2 months. They were "Dog" and "Duck." To this day, they're animal crazy!
Julie B. said…
:) Thanks for sharing that story, Kathleen. I like all of your stories, but I especially have to smile/giggle when they're about Erik doing silly things.
Grace Albaugh said…
Just checked in because I keep you on my dashboard and see that David has you on POTD. Great story. I want to know what neighbor Fred was thinking when he came to you instead of running after the boy.
PurestGreen said…
Found you through post of the day. What a fantastic story,full of drama and laughs.
Cheffie-Mom said…
Awesome story! Great job Mom! I came over from David's authorblog. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award!
Kathleen said…
David: Thank you, kind sir. I would have loved to have chatted with your Mum! I can't imagine how she did it. Did your brothers turn out as nice and amazingly talented as you? Thank you for your lovely comment, recognition, but most especially for how you connect us all through the blogshere. You're a prince!

Granny: You give me hope! I had kids reasonably early and hoped to be a your grandmother. But no one's cooperating. So I'll have to bide my time (and try not to meddle!)

Moanie: Thanks for your comment! I can just imagine you racing up ahead! So glad you paid a visit. I'll be swinging by your blog, too!

Jinksy: Welcome! And thank you for the comment. Those words are hilarious! My eldest got so angry when we tried to convince him that the word for the item one uses to wipe one's face is a napkin not a nakune!

Jane: What a fascinating observation. I have such a poor sense of smell I would never have thought of that. He, on the other hand, has a keen sense of smell and amazing ear as well. One of those people with perfect pitch. Errr...I can't stay on key to save my life. Thanks so much for stopping by. I got way behind on my visits when went to Houston over Memorial Day so I know I've got some fascinating stories about Egypt to read! I'll be over soon. Put some tea on?

Jeni: Wow! What a fascinating comment. It's so reassuring to hear about varied obsessions. And I love what you said about eventually landing on one that is lasting. I'm just like you with the craft thing, only I'm a beader. I don't really have to go shopping. I forget half the supplies I have and when I go digging, I find plenty of surprises. But does that keep me out of bead stores?

Ellen: What fabulous talents, disassembler and finder. Sounds like the makings of a fascinating human being whose eyes and curiosity were wide open. And what does he do now? A bioengineer?

~enui~: Thank you so much for your comment! I am truly honored. It's nice to actually have stories to tell. I had the darnest time trying to tell stories to my kids at bedtime. BORING. They much preferred I just read to them!

Katherine: Boy, are you right about that! And nothing like fear to make a story stick but good! Oh, I've got even better ones for blackmail purposes. (Watch out, S, L, and E!!!) No kidding about retired Fred! That's something I've wondered about myself but didn't have the nerve to ask. We moved from that house, and I seriously doubt he's still alive. I don't know, bad knees maybe?
Kathleen said…
Pyzahn: Always wonderful to see your comments here! I hope you always keep trolling and spreading your amazing spirit throughout the blogosphere. Glad you stopped by! Um, have you seen my blogroll lately? Could be another reason why I'm so behind in my visits!!!

Rudee: Thanks! Those boys do have some "endearing" infatuations. I don't know what it is about the Baker Boys, but no meal can be had a without few competitive burping sessions and scatalogical conversation! Really, it's so gross!!!

Elizabeth: I LOVE it that your twins are animal lovers! And what early talkers. Geez, that's amazing. My soccer playing son's first word was "bah" (ball) and within a day of walking he was running!

Julie: Ah, sweetling! I have so many more stories for you. Some will probably never appear on the bloggerworld, though. Mostly, you'll be amazed he's still alive!

Grace: So glad you liked the story--and that you stopped by! I'm honored by your comment, as it comes from one very fine storyteller!

PurestGreen: Welcome! So happy you found your way here. And glad you found the story full of drama and laughs. Oh, the drama has always been fever-pitched in this household. (One reason why I go on a lot of personal retreats!) If we can get Mr. B going on his tales as a substitute teacher, the hilarity level goes off the charts! He has a blog (Are You Our Sub), too, but we can't get him to post regularly!

Cheffie-Mom: Welcome back!!! So glad David left breadcrumbs to my little blog on the prairie. I'm still waiting to hear if you have a chicken gumbo recipe that doesn't use tomatoes! My Mama B (paternal grandmother from Lufkin-way) took her yummy recipe to her grave. Thanks for your comment and congrats!
I have been very lucky with my two boys, but my poor mother! I'm so glad it turned out OK. Great story telling. Peace.
G. Harrison said…
Kathleen, a great story (and accompanying photos).

we can't turn our back for a second, can we? my wife usually has both eyes on Ollie, our 2 and a half year old grandson, but now that warmer weather is here we spend more time together in my workshop and garden.

less gets done (on my to-do list) but new words, songs and expressions keep popping out of his mouth - and I can't help but think this is a grand time to be alive.


gord h.
Erin Davis said…
Great story! Reminds me of my son Jack. On my first day of teaching (ever), he decided at the age of 3 to run away. I found walking on the sidewalk on the street behind us, holding his bowl of cheerios and eating breakfast as he strolled.

PS--I resonded to your St. Francis query on my blog.
Kathleen said…
Butternut: Thank you so much for stopping by! So nice to meet you. I just visited your blog and was amazed at all your world travels. My mother said her favorite country was Nepal. She just loved the people!

Gord: No we can't! That's only one of several times I came close to losing that boy. Some day I'll share the rest. Ollie sounds magnificent. Wish I could meet him! I'm so envious. I'd like a little grandchild myself!

Erin: Thank heavens I wasn't drinking something when I read your comment! Is it 3 boys you have? You deserve a special place in heaven, my dear. Some of my favorite people are moms of 3 boys! Thanks for your comment. I'll stop my shortly to check on St.Francis.
Now that's plain awesome! Here from David's with high-fives for you!!! Especially that you lived to write this! ;-)

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