My oldest granddaughter, the middle child, has always shown attributes that are unique. She is somewhat fearless, very self-confident, and advanced in her thinking, (7 going on 14). Several years ago she decided to become a gymnast, and her enthusiasm for that activity has only continued to develop exponentially. It was not unusual to watch her practice at home for hours on end, and when it came to competitions, she usually ended up somewhere on the winners' platforms loaded with medals.
Two years ago while practicing one handed flips at home, she twisted when she should have turned and broke her right arm. It was a bad break that required surgery and she ended up decked out in a hot purple cast for weeks. As soon as she was allowed back on the gym floor, she returned with even more intensity and determination as she focused on catching up.
That was until Thursday night when she missed a parallel bar at practice. This time she smashed her elbow; chipped the bone and ended up with a swollen everything. She and her mother went to the Emergency Room for X-rays, a multiple day wait for an MRI and potential surgeries.
Almost ironically, a birthday celebration with her gymnastics team was scheduled to take place on Saturday, and it became my job to help her brother maintain his sanity. I had to get him out of the house and away from over a half dozen energetic 7 year old girls. It was my secret dream that he would accompany me to see James Bond, but he's 9-years-old and would have no part of going to a PG-13 movie without his parents being present. (He clearly doesn't see me as the parent protector.)
So, we started a journey that will not be soon forgotten. First, we went to the Easy Shopper, bought a hot dog, some root beer, and a piece of pizza. After a rolling lunch, we ended up at the mall where we bought a present for his mom. Our next stop was the drive-thru pharmacy for Rite Aid followed by a trip to the Brushless Car Wash where I provided an unsolicited educational dialog about using your wipers while the wax is hitting the windshield. He was clearly more enamored with the octopus-like shammies dragging across the hood like a deep sea underwater monster.
We then went to Game Stop where he spent the better part of 45 minutes playing Mario Brothers, studying the costs of various video games, sorting through bins of reconditioned equipment, and watching videos of what may very well prove to represent his gaming future.
After that we went to Big Lots where he gave some of his Christmas money to The Salvation Army donation pot. Then we went to the toy section where he reflected intensely on every boy toy. As he examined each previously owned toy, he described how they had or had not held up over his lifetime.
We finally decided that the price was generally good, but the permanence was, well, less than protracted.
After that we drove through Dunkin' Donuts and bought some liquid libations, and he lamented the fact that we had not gone to Quaker Steak & Lube for dinner the night before. We then headed off to Toys R Us for another deep dive into the world of kids entertainment and fantasy. We walked up and down various isles until he found an Ike Taylor Steelers figurine, a must buy. After that he studied at least two dozen different toys, bikes, and electronic thing-a-ma-gigs. Finally, he looked at me and said, "OK, let's get out of here. I don't trust those girls at our house. I need to go guard my room."
Little did I know that on Shop Local Day, I would qualify as a true local titleholder?
(Nick Jacobs, Windber, international director for SunStone Consulting, LLC is the author of the blog Healinghospitals.com.)