A woman behind me in a checkout line was talking to her child; a daughter with the same name as my own. It’s a fairly unusual name in these parts. I turned to comment just as the child erupted into a tantrum. The mom spoke calmly to her child and continued with the cashier. The fit wailed on. I left the store without saying a word to anyone except to mutter to myself about marching the kid/mom out to their car for a time out.

Have you ever heard the saying, “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”? I figure the Almighty didn’t think we could handle much in the way of offspring as our small fry was pretty low maintenance. I can talk about her since she doesn’t live around here and will never know, so I will mention that there was one time when she was so rotten that we refer to it as “that one time” and everyone knows what we’re talking about. To be fair, it was at the tail end of the holidays, she was four and the little cousins had been going non-stop for 72 hours. But the drama was so extreme that the cousin that was normally on the hot seat watched the performance in awed silence and my dad was ready to disown his only grandchild. Except for diapers, “that one time” — and maybe a few days as a college freshman — My Steven and I have been blessed with a good kid.

My Uncle Tim once admitted that, while he loves his children, he found that he was still a little uneasy with other people’s kids. He could change a diaper without throwing up, and wrangle their crazies when required, but when some friends spent the night in his home with toddlers in tow, he had to take a walk outside.

“I thought I was going to have to ask them to leave,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know what it is about other people’s kids.”

He was referring primarily to full diapers, but still, I get it.

Unless it’s an honest-to-goodness cry of distress, an I-want-it wail in the store sets my teeth on edge. It’s easy, in hindsight, for me to mutter that I would never allow my child to do that. But can you really reason with a tired threeyear- old, using words like “unacceptable” while you hand them a candy bar and conduct a cell phone conversation at full volume? Heck of a grandparent I will be.

Yesterday evening, I heard myself yelling, “What did I just say?!” at Fergus the Obstinate Coonhound. He trotted nervously to the front door, away from the turkey he was barking at in his most ferocious voice. For whatever reason, it still works.