A weekend with Liam
My youngest grandson, Liam, will celebrate his sixth birthday in December. When he was born, I jokingly told his parents that he could come and stay with me as soon as he was potty-trained.
That milestone has long since passed, but it wasn’t until the July 4 weekend that Liam actually got to spend a weekend at Pops’ house by himself.
Liam lives in North Little Rock, so I picked him up from my daughter-in-law Christi on Friday in Clinton. His clothes and toys were neatly packed in matching bags with a dinosaur theme.
We made it back to my house in Berryville before dark and Liam got his first chance to meet Rizzo, the shelter dog I adopted from Good Shepherd a couple of months ago.
Rizzo is a Lab mix with a lot of energy. Meeting Liam didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, as Rizzo jumped up and scratched the little guy’s nose. Liam cried a little, but calmed down quickly with a big hug from Pops. We then decided to put Liam up on the kitchen table where Rizzo and his calmer sister Ivy couldn’t jump on him. After a few minutes of that, the dogs went to their crates so Liam could play without being harassed.
Dinner on Friday night was pizza from Good Times: barbecue chicken for me and pepperoni sausage for Liam. We watched a little TV and then it was bedtime for Liam. He went down without any fuss and I’m not sure he moved until Saturday morning.
Saturday was our big day. We started with doughnuts (and doughnut holes, Liam’s favorite), then went to the store to buy Liam a new fishing pole — and a 300-piece Lego set.
We were joined on our fishing trip by Robert Cox, our talented reporter and page designer here at Carroll County Newspapers. Unfortunately, it was not a successful outing. Liam was upset that I wouldn’t let him cast his own line, so after a while I gave in and let him give it a whirl. Of course, Liam’s first cast resulted in his hook being stuck in a tree. After trying for several minutes to unsnag it, I finally gave up and cut the line. I hadn’t thought to bring along extra hooks and Liam wasn’t too interested in watching me or Robert fish and soon informed us that he had to go … to the bathroom. Maybe he was pulling our leg because he was bored, or maybe he wasn’t. That wasn’t a chance I was willing to take, so we headed home pronto.
After we dined on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (I like my PB&J mixed together in a bowl; Liam most certainly does not), my fiancee Lisa — never say never, right? — joined us for an afternoon of fun. We started by swimming for quite a while at the Berryville Community Center, where Liam played happily with a group of other kids. Lisa and I stayed close enough to keep an eye on him, but far enough away to let him have a little independence. He had a blast for more than an hour before it was time to get ready for our next adventure.
The week before Liam came to visit, I had seen an advertisement for a new “Boss Baby” movie that was playing in theaters and also available to stream online. I mentioned it to my son Ronnie, Liam’s dad, and was planning to stream it at home. I didn’t make that last part clear, however, and Ronnie told Liam we were “going to the movies.” Liam, having been to a movie theater just once, was super excited about repeating the experience, so there was no way we were going to miss that.
We drove to Harrison in time for a 5:15 showing — with popcorn and drinks, of course. Liam fell asleep on the drive but woke up in a good mood and thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
We had planned on eating dinner in Harrison, but Liam informed us he was ready to go home. So, we picked up some fried chicken at the drive-thru window, then watched a little more TV before bed. Again, Liam went down with no fuss.
Sunday was supposed to be a relaxing-at-home kind of day before I drove Liam back to Clinton at 6 that night. I made us a big late breakfast with eggs, biscuits, bacon and hash browns, then I did a few chores around the house while Liam played on the Xbox. He would have been fine playing Minecraft all day, but it was way too pretty outside for that. Instead, we drove back to the community center, this time to the playground. Liam quickly made friends with a group of kids and they had a great time running back and forth and playing on the equipment.
After cooling off with drinks from Sonic, we headed back home and opened up that new Lego set. Liam asked to see the “ ’structions” and then proceeded to put together a cool-looking Lego car by following the 15-step details. I texted a photo to his mom and dad and told them, only half-kidding, that if I had tried to put the car together I would have probably ended up bleeding, cursing and throwing Legos.
Since I had to work on Monday, I had to drive Liam back to Clinton on Sunday night. He was excited because he was headed “straight to the lake,” as he told me multiple times to join Christi’s family for the rest of the holiday weekend.
I’m fully aware that some readers are critical of columns like this that can read more like a “personal journal.” But if you read my column regularly, you know that I’m not afraid to take on far more serious topics. Every once in a while, though, it’s nice to forget about politics and hard news and serious things and focus on what’s really important. Liam and I won’t wait another five years to hang out again.