Never too young or too old…


Randy Riley - Contributing columnist



It started easily enough. Clayton and Claire were visiting on Sunday evening. I simply asked Clayton, “Hey, do you want to have an adventure?” It had been a beautiful summer day. Hot, but comfortable.

The weather prediction for the night was great. There was no rain in sight.

I asked Clayton, “Do you want to sleep on the back deck? No tents. No sleeping bags. It will be just us, a few cushions, pillows, and maybe a couple of blankets.”

His face lit up. He smiled and asked, “Are you serious, Pappy?”

Immediately, I responded, “You bet I’m serious. It’ll be an adventure. We’ll be sleeping in the wild.”

He asked if there would be any critters coming on the deck at night. With a straight face, I told him there might be a raccoon, a few squirrels or skunks, and maybe a velociraptor or two. That didn’t faze him in the least.

He asked, “Do you think we’ll see a T-Rex?”

I explained that the T-Rex that lives in our neighborhood usually stays on the other side of the fence, in the neighbor’s backyard. That made everything just fine.

We watched a little television and had a snack. As the sun went down and the shadows started stretching across the backyard, Clayton was ready.

Finally, around 10 o’clock, I scattered a few blankets on the deck. He decided they needed to be closer together.

That was no problem. I grabbed a few cushions from our back room and off the porch furniture and laid them close together on the deck. That was better.

We had a few blankets in the downstairs closet for winter use. I tossed them on top of the cushions, and we grabbed a few sleeping-pillows from the upstairs bedrooms. We were ready.

Of course, whenever Clayton and Claire spend the night, you never just go to sleep. There has to be plenty of chit-chat before falling sleeping.

Clayton thought it was really cool that it was just the two of us. Claire and Memaw had decided not to share in our deck-adventure. They were upstairs chit-chatting as they watched TV in Memaw’s room.

Clayton asked about having a nightlight. I pointed out that the streetlight over by Peggy Lane cast some light onto the deck. It would be fine.

Then, “What if I wake up and have to go pee?” I explained that would not be a problem. I showed him where there was a perfect place at the edge of the deck where he could stand and pee into the grass.

He thought was really a cool idea. It would be fine.

Even with the cushions, our beds were hard as a board… or deck. We got as comfortable as possible and cuddled up. He thought it would be a good idea to hold hands. I thought that was a great idea. Surprisingly, we were both asleep with a minimum of chit-chat.

We were still holding hands when I woke up at 2 o’clock.

It hadn’t rained, but the dew was so heavy that our blankets were soaked. At first, I thought that one of us had had an accident, but when I felt the wooden deck and the glass-topped picnic table, I realized that everything was soaked.

I covered us up with a few dry blankets and settled back onto our deck-beds.

In the distance, I could hear the city trash trucks and some early-rising neighbors heading for work. I felt sorry for them. Just after 5 o’clock it seemed that all the early birds in the neighborhood woke up. They chirped and chattered as they prepared to be the early bird that got the worm.

I think all the noisy, early birds woke up the squirrels.

In the movie, “Jurassic Park,” there is small dinosaur they call a “Compie”, which is small and chatters all the time.

A squirrel stuck his little head over the top of the small privacy fence on our deck. He started yelling at us and chattering like a Compie. That’s when Clayton started to wake up. I told him all the big dinosaurs — like the T-Rex and velociraptors — had already been there and left. He said, “Oh, that’s good.”

I told him that we were wet from the night dew. He corrected me by explaining that it was really toad pee.

I said, “Oh, OK. Maybe we’ll need to take a shower this morning to wash off all the toad pee.”

We both giggled. Clayton and I giggle a lot.

I’ve had quite a few of adventures in my lifetime. With Clayton’s spirit and with his keen sense of adventure, and sense of humor, I’m looking forward to many more adventures with my grandson.

You’re never too young or too old for an adventure.

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

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Randy Riley

Contributing columnist