Jerry Zezima: The Grandfather of the Playground | Way of life

As a relic from another time (the clock currently reads 10:47 am), I am known to my grandchildren as a dinosaur. I’m also known, at least at a park where I recently took two of the kids for fun and frolic, as the playground grandpa.

The proper appellation was given to me by a guy who had broken his foot and couldn’t run with his 6 year old son. The job came back to me after the kid, my twin grandkids and a bunch of other youngsters wanted me to chase them in the hot sun, watch them go down the slide and otherwise act as stupid as I even when I am not around munchkins six decades my junior.

“You are the grandfather of the playground,” said the father with the fractured foot as I paused to catch my breath, which at that moment must have smelled something awful.

The sentiment was echoed by the mother of three young boys who joined my wild antics. They especially liked it when I engaged them in a stick game, in which I held a small stick in my right hand, looked at the children gathered to my left, and said no one was going to take it. Meanwhile, one of the brothers snuck in from the other side and snatched the stick from my fingers. My shameless double takes and wide-eyed looks of surprise caused the delighted assembly to burst into laughter each of the two dozen or so times I repeated the absurdity.

“Thank you very much,” the mom said when it was time to go home. “They had fun with you.”

“You are welcome,” I replied. “It’s because I’m less mature than any of them.”

The twins, who are about to turn 3, weren’t jealous at all.

“Follow me,” I sang as we walked back to the car. “I’m Poppie Foot.”

I’m also Prehistoric Poppie, because the dynamic duo and their 5-year-old big brother love dinosaurs — especially, of course, me.

“Am I a dinosaur? ” I asked them.

Twin girl: “Yes!”

Twin: “Yes!”

Big Brother: “Maybe.

All three know their prehistoric creatures, whose photos adorn their backpacks, lunch boxes and clothes. They also watch TV shows – “Steve and Maggie” and “Blippi” being the most popular – with dinosaur themes. After hearing the kids prefer the T. rex, I said my favorite was the woolly mammoth.

Big Brother sighed and said, “It’s a different time, Poppie.

I went back and forth when my grandson and I spent an afternoon at what he calls the dinosaur museum, where we saw fossils (something I do when I’m look in the bathroom mirror to shave) and lots of other cool stuff, including an exhibit about early humans. I have to say the resemblance between one of the troglodytes and a certain modern grandfather was remarkable.

Even more remarkable was my repeated performance as the playground grandfather when I took the twins to another park the next day.

As soon as we arrived, a 7-year-old boy approached me and said, “Do you want to see how fast I can run?

“Of course,” I told him.

“I bet you can’t run as fast as me,” he said.

“I bet I can,” I replied.

The slender speedster immediately took off with me in an intense chase (because I was sweating profusely).

When her son finally stopped, and with me on the verge of collapsing, her mother smiled and said, “You have a way with kids.”

“They have a way with me,” I gasped, the words coming in short bursts as I imagined the first responders giving me PGR (Playground Grandpa Resuscitation).

While the twins were playing in another part of the playground under the supervision of their father, a second 7-year-old child approached me and struck up a rambling conversation in which he informed me that he had superpowers and that he came from a family of wolves.

Then he started kicking a soccer ball with me and ended up laughing at my excruciating puns, which his mom, who played soccer in high school, called “dad jokes.”

“My dad tells them too,” the kid said.

“Do you think mine are funny?” I asked.

“Yes!” he sprang.

“Good,” I said. “Tell your dad you heard them from Playground Grandpa.”

Jerry Zezima writes a comedy column for Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His latest is “One for the Ageless: How to Stay Young and Immature Even if You’re Really Old.” Email: [email protected] Blog:

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Harold B. McConnell