On the summer day the photograph was snapped, they had been especially naughty, as I recall. Well, maybe “naughty” is a little harsh. They were only toddlers, after all. It isn’t like they were setting fires or robbing banks or anything majorly terrible. But they were busy and noisy and squabbling over toys. My sister, cousin, and I were young, first-time moms. First-born children are often called the “experimental” ones in families. That day, it seemed like our experiments were going terribly, terribly wrong.
Despite this, it is still my favorite picture of the three of them, and one of my best memories because my grandmother, who would be gone by mid-September of that year, is the fourth person in the photo. I remember her sitting in our screen porch in a wicker rocker watching her three great grandchildren bonk each other on the head as she tried in vain to distract the trio with other things to do that didn’t involve chucking toys at each other. Finally, in defeat, she took a drag of her cigarette, looked at all three of them, started to laugh and said, “They are like three bad puppies, but at least they’re CUTE.”
Cute helps. Particularly when it comes to great-grandchildren.
While she was living, there wasn’t anything that the three of them could do that she didn’t find endlessly entertaining. To her, they were the three smartest, most wonderful babies the Lord had ever placed upon the earth. Peter, the oldest, was her personal comedian from the day he was born. Lexie, the girl in the bunch, was her little princess, and Ben, with his snapping black eyes so unlike his two cousins, was her heartthrob. She didn’t know them very long, but I’m glad she got a chance to know them for a little while. I’m glad they were loved that much.
Today, her three bad puppies are grown. Pete has a job in biochemistry that will take him to New York on business this month. Miss Lexie is a nurse planning an October wedding. And by this time next year, Ben will be an engineer. Our experiments seem to have turned out, after all. They aren’t much different now than they were that day the picture was taken. Older, yes. Smarter, for sure. Less inclined to bonk each other on the head? Usually.
Well played, puppies. Well played.