Uncle Walt fails miserably at being Uncle Walt

Two kids left in my care. Two separate injuries in the span of two weeks.

“Higher Uncle Walt,” Aidan shouted as I pushed him on the swing in the backyard, while his younger brother Grayson sat in his Big Wheels Jeep behind us, driving to Auntie Meg Meg’s house.

“You’re as high as I can get you,” I shouted back. And he was. Nearly level with the top bar of the swing set.

Then, I felt a hand on my thigh. I quickly looked down. There was Grayson.

“I wanna see Uncle Walt,” he said in his cute two-year old voice.

It was happening too fast! Before I could even think about reacting, Aidan came on the back swing. He crashed into Grayson, who crashed into me. The force knocked us both over.

Ouch! That hurt! And, if it hurt me, what happened to little Grayson.

There he lay in front of me. His face red, his mouth wide open but with no sound coming out. At least not at the moment. Before I could pick myself up he was crying like only a two year old could.

Misplaced anger immediately shot through me.

“God dammit Aidan!,” I yelled. “You got to watch what you’re doing.”

Even in my anger, I knew perfectly well that I was wrong. How was Aidan supposed to know his brother was creeping up behind him. His back was to us.

I scooped up Grayson. He seemed okay. Other than the crying, that is. I carried him into his mother. I attempted to explain what happened as I handed her the screaming child. He stopped crying almost immediately as soon as he felt Mom’s comforting embrace.

The little guy began squirming to get out of Keely’s arms the second he heard me say the magic word, “outside”. As in, “I have to go back outside and find Aidan. I was a bit hard on him.”

I walked around the backyard but Aidan was nowhere to be found. The evil swing was still swaying lightly.

I eventually found him next door at his grandparents house, sitting on the couch. Spongebob was on the TV. He wouldn’t look at me.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I said. “I didn’t mean it. It wasn’t your fault. It was mine. I should have been paying better attention.”

Aidan is a typical 8 year old boy. Truth be told, he gets yelled at a lot. All boys do. But not by me. I’ve never been much of a yeller. Especially not at Aidan. Honestly, I didn’t remember ever yelling at him before and that was probably what upset him the most.

“Lets play something,” I said to Aidan.

He didn’t respond. He continued watching Spongebob. Then: Commercial.

“What do you want to play?” he asked. The joy once again back in his voice.


A week later Uncle Walt struck again.

Aidan and I were trying out his new pitching machine. On the surface it’s kind of a piece of junk: A motorized plastic machine that shoots plastic whiffle balls. But, once that motor revs up, it cranks out the balls and is, in actuality, really cool.

Aidan and I took turns swinging. One would hit, while the other retrieved the balls in the outfield. As usual, Grayson was outside with us. But the machine kind of made him uncomfortable. He stood off in the distance and watched, taking pleasure watching whomever was in the outfield try and retrieve the balls after they’d been hit.

After about 20 minutes Aidan decided we should use the machine to work on our catching skills. One of us would load the balls into the machine, while the other, standing about 10 feet back, would catch them after they shot out. Sure. Why not? What could go wrong?

Of course, Aidan was going first.

I loaded the balls into the machine.


“Ready!” Aidan, said confidentially.

The fist ball fired out, chest level. Aidan caught it. The second ball shot out at Aidan’s knees. He caught it. The third ball, however, shot out almost immediately after the second one just as Aidan stood up after fielding the low pitch at this knees.

SMACK!! The ball hit him in the cheek. Just below his left eye. It made the snapping sound of a leather belt.

Aidan grinded his teeth together and grimaced. Trying oh so hard not to cry. He didn’t like to cry in front of Uncle Walt. But, that ball came out fast, and it sounded like it really hurt. Just as his face turned red at the point of impact Aidan lost it and began to cry.

I ran to him and hugged him. Not knowing what else to do.

“Just rub it,” I said. “The pain will go away.”

As Aidan continued to cry, Grayson, who had been watching the whole thing, waddled over.

He wedged himself in between us and put his hand on his big brother’s arm.

“Na Na, ” he said, using his two year old word for AIDAN. “Go see Mom. Go see mom Na Na.”

If Grayson had learned anything about pain in his two years on earth, it’s that Mom heals all wounds.

A laugh escaped from me. Aidan’s cries softened. A half smile came over his face. Then a little laugh from him.

“All better,” I asked.

Aidan nodded.

The crisis, at least for this week, was over.



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