Using My Teaching Skills

By Ernie Witham   |   March 1, 2018

I love kids. And fortunately, they seem to like me okay, too. Which is good, because between my wife, Pat and I, we have five children, four grandchildren and one granddog that I love teaching new tricks.

“Roll over, no? Sit, no? Shake, no? How about lay there like a lump? Yeah!”

And now, I get to use my many teaching skills again with Jack, our 20-month old grandson – a great age because he is so curious. “That’s the remote control for the television. No, it’s not meant to come apart… oh, those are the batteries… no, don’t eat them! Yuk, bad.”

“Yuk, bad.”

“That’s right. Wait, that doesn’t mean you have to throw the remote in the trash… oh look, there are my glasses. And my car keys. And the dog. Maybe we should leave the trash for right now. How about I teach you some music?”

I handed Jack a Tupperware bowl and a wooden spoon. “See, if you tap it lightly, it sounds like a drum.”

“What the heck is that racket?” Pat yelled form the other room.”

“Music,” I yelled back over the cacophony. I grabbed the spoon. “Maybe we can make quieter music instead. Face music! Perfect! See, Jack, if you wiggle your finger really fast over your lips while humming, you can make bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub sounds.”

“Bub… bub… bub…”

“Good start! With practice, you’ll soon be able to do “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes” like this – bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub when she comes… bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub when she comes. 

 “Bub… bub… bub…”

“Much improved! Now, if you block one nostril and flick your finger over the other one when humming through your nose, you can add another instrument – “snah-snah-snah-snah-snah-snah-snah-snah when she comes.”

“Bub… bub… bub…”

“Okay, that one is a little advanced. I didn’t really perfect it until first grade. ‘Bout the same time as I mastered the underarm fart.”


“Oops, crap, don’t say fart, okay?”


“Ah, jeez, don’t say crap or fart.”

“Ah, jeez.”

“What are you teaching him?!” Pat asked.

“Ah, the Bible. We were talking about Jesus.”


“Oh? And what book of the Bible is that from?”


“Well, you’d better un-teach him quickly before his parents get back.”

We moved to the patio door. Jack pointed through the screen as an airplane went over.

“Plane,” he said.

“Plane, that’s right!”

“Plane,” he said again. And again. And again. And again. 

“Yes, there are a lot of planes. That’s because we live near the airport. Some people think all those planes suck, but I don’t mind. 

“Planes suck.”

“Oh, man. Let’s go out back and explore nature, wanna?”


We have a large common area at our condo complex, with paths, a tennis court, a playground, and lots of nature.


“That’s a crow. See it’s crowing. Caw caw caw.” 


“Yes, it is a bird, but it’s also a crow. See there’s another one. And they are all cawing at us and, well, they kinda look mean.”

“Yuk birds.”

We moved away from the tree with the birds and found a rosemary bush. I bent down and sniffed. “Smell the rosemary?” Jack bent down to sniff and a bee landed right in front of him. He was fascinated. 

“That’s a bee.”






“Yes. Again. Its job is to transfer pollen from the male part of the plant to the female reproductive organs of the plant.”

“Reproductive organs.”

“Ah, let’s go back to bee.”

“Reproductive organs.”

Oh, man, I thought. His mom is going to kick my butt.


“Come on! I didn’t even say butt, I just thought it!”


I hustled him away from the all-too-raw part of nature until we came to a tree.


“That’s right. It’s a pine tree. But we shouldn’t touch it because… 


“That’s called sap. The same thing the family will be calling me soon.”

I picked Jack up and carried him home, trying to prevent him from sapping his eyeball. Pat quickly helped me clean him up.

“You came back just in time. Jon and Jess are on their way back.”

“Reproductive organs, yuk, crap,” Jack said.

“I’m going to go away now,” I said to Pat. “Call me when the coast is clear.

Bye-bye, Jack.”

“Butt-butt,” he said.


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