May 22, 2018

Places I’ve Played


July 21, 2011

By Bill Skiff

Do you know how hard it is to sit around waiting to be a grandfather? You can’t say anything because it is none of your business, but you sure want to.

When Ruth and I went home to visit, we started to find little crib size Afghans that my mother made. Dad’s poems began to talk about multi-generations of Vermont families, and the joy of passing on family traditions. I never got the message — until our children began to marry. Then I got it loud and clear.

I found myself in sporting goods stores looking at small bats and gloves, or finding dollhouse blueprints in arts and crafts books. I was ready, but no one else was. I used to ask myself, “What’s the matter with them?” I would think. Then I would just sit back and wait … and wait. Another Christmas went by with no opportunity to buy that electric train or build that dollhouse. I just sat, waited, and kept quiet.

Finally, a baby girl arrived. I was so proud. Another generation arrived. I pulled out the dollhouse I had made her mother, and refurbished it — just in time for Christmas. Last month, I attended her eighth-grade graduation. How did that happen?

Two boys later arrived and I was able to buy a couple of Red Ryder BB guns. I made a leather carrying case for one, complete with Indian graphics. I can once again spend summer days shooting tin cans and looking for big game. I have to work it in around soccer games, camps, play dates and work projects.

One grandson is tall enough now to look me in the eye. Where did that time go?

Then, two more girls arrived. What fun it was to build a dollhouse from those blue prints I purchased so long ago. Then I had my college roommate — who is an architect — design a schoolhouse. Even now, when they are playing softball, soccer, and taking horseback riding lessons, I see those houses tucked away in their rooms. How did they get from dollhouses to horses in such a short time?

For those of you waiting to be grandparents, I say, “Stay the course. It is worth it.” Try to control your impulses to leave Afghans around, or say things like, “What’s the matter with you?” It won’t work. Just be patient and with a little luck, it will happen. And your life will never be the same.

You can watch them grow up like you couldn’t with your own children because you were so busy. You can spend quality time with them passing on family stories and showing them tricks you learned. You can watch them play sports without being the coach, and they can come to your house and eat anything they want. I have one grandson who knows where everything edible is in our house.

I have to hide chocolate from my wife. One day some were missing and I asked her how she found them. She said she had not eaten them. When our grandson came down, she asked him, “Where does Papa keep his chocolates?” He replied, “Why do you ask?” Nice to have a grandson who watches your back!

When you are reading this, I will be in a cabin in Alaska crawling around the floor with my newest granddaughter. I haven’t seen her since she was one-week old. She is now nine-months-old. Where did that time go?

Bill Skiff grew up on a farm between Cambridge and Jeffersonville. After a career in education, he now lives in Williston, where he is a justice of the peace and Fourth of July frog-jumping official. In “Places I’ve Played,” he shares his experiences of growing up in Vermont. Comments are welcome at


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