By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
After returning from Washington, D.C., where I spent a lot of time coloring with crayons, playing with blocks and going down slides, making me more productive than anyone else there, I can say with great pride and total accuracy that my grandson, Xavier, who just turned 2, is the smartest and most mature person in the nation’s capital.
And it turned out that I was the most influential. That’s because my lobbying efforts to have fun paid dividends not only with Xavier, but with his friends Hayden and Walter, also 2.
My influence even extended to grown-ups such as the woman who carded me when I bought wine in a grocery store and the bartender who didn’t card me when I ordered a beer but did say that Washington is undergoing a booze renaissance.
I was happy to contribute to this encouraging development during the five days that my wife, Sue, and I, known to our grandchildren as Nini and Poppie, visited Xavier, who lives with his mommy, Katie, and daddy, Dave.
And I built up quite a thirst playing with Xavier, who has an impressive collection of coloring books and approximately a thousand crayons, as well as a boxful of blocks that we used to build planes, trains and automobiles. It gave me hope that he will grow up to be either a great artist or secretary of transportation.
But I really exerted myself at the playground, where Xavier met up with his buddy Hayden, who took an instant liking to me, probably because he sensed that I was on his intellectual level, and wanted me to take him down each of the park’s several slides several times each.
This presented a daunting challenge to a geezer whose pathetic inability to climb stairs, crawl through child-size tunnels and whoosh down twisting plastic surfaces with a squirming toddler on his lap nearly resulted in an ambulance ride to the emergency room.
Naturally, Xavier wanted me to do the same with him.
“Follow me,” I said to the two boys. “I’m the Pied Poppie.”
Later, it was my turn to follow our little family band when we went to a grocery store to buy ingredients for dinner (Dave is a marvelous cook) and purchase some wine: a bottle of red and a bottle of white, with no apologies to Billy Joel.
“May I please see your ID?” asked a very nice cashier named Laura, who appeared to be about 40 years younger than I am.
“Really?!” I squealed. “You’re actually carding me? Do I look that young?”
Laura smiled and said, “I have to do this to everyone.”
“Do you want to see my AARP card?” I asked disappointedly.
“Your driver’s license will do,” said Laura.
From there, we went to a market that had a bakery, a bar and a community library.
I bellied up to the libation portion of the establishment and ordered a beer from Vince, who said he also works at a distillery that makes whiskey, gin and vodka.
“Washington is having a booze renaissance,” he told me.
“That explains things,” I replied.
Before I could finish my beer, Xavier and his BFF, Walter, who was there with his parents, wanted me to sit down with them and read the children’s book “What Do People Do All Day?” by Richard Scarry.
“Poppie doesn’t do a heck of a lot,” I said before launching into the delightful text, which the boys loved.
All in all, I had a wonderful time in the nation’s capital, and my faith was restored in a city where a trio of 2-year-olds showed that people could actually get along with each other.
It’s what I would call a kid renaissance.
Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima