Playing The Glad Game

I'm man enough to admit it: I like Facebook. And, as every delusional, fibbing dude SHOULD have admitted when he bought a copy of Playboy back in the day, claiming he liked the magazine for its insightful articles; I like Facebook for the pictures. It's a great way to keep up with old friends, their kids and grandkids.

Lately I've really been enjoying posts of prom pics and spring sports and kids I feel connected to who are doing well--like a young pole vaulter named Brenon winning regionals, advancing to state, accepting a scholarship and signing with a great school, with a stellar track program.

For many years, I had the privilege of working with teens, watching them grow and discover. I got to be friends with some very creative, fun, wacky people. It was a blast walking with them, seeking some hope in the despair. 

I am a very proud dad of two sons. The youngest serves in a role that brings him in touch with some of the ugliest, cruelest, most tragic elements of our society. I don't know how he does it, but I'm grateful to him for serving in a way few of us would.

Do you see the ends of the broad spectrum I'm trying to paint here? On the one end: happy, healthy kids in photos with prom dates or their winning teammates. On the other end, photos of people often in a drug-addled state standing against a wall with height markers, holding a number. I know it not as clear cut as that, but...

Does it seem sometimes like the floor is tilting the wrong way?

Best I remember, my first movie star crush was with Hayley Mills in the movie Moon-Spinners. I was thirteen. She was eighteen. It didn't work out.

Ms. Mills was probably best known though for her portrayal of Pollyanna in the movie of the same name. Pollyanna was an eternally optimistic little girl who would NEVER have had a "SH#T HAPPENS" bumper sticker on her car. She liked to play a game called "The Glad Game" where she could turn every negative into a positive.

If Pollyanna were still alive, and if she had somehow insulated herself from the infectious, slimy ooze of the 24-hour A Day TV news shows, and if she had somehow found a place for herself in the hateful, vitriolic, political rhetoric that has become the norm for us citizens of the not-so-United States; it would be fun to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Would she still be playing The Glad Game? Would she post selfies of herself smiling from ear to ear after realizing she wouldn't have a date for the prom? (But she would of course--she's Hayley Mills.)

It got me to thinking about the roles I play. (BTW: the plural "roles" is appropriate for all of us because we do play many.)

If you follow this blog (bless you), you know that I am known to my Grand-Girls as "Pops." Here on this blog I also use the term as an umbrella term for the roles of grandfather.

As you know, the prefix for "many" in our language is "poly." So, I'm hereby branding the persona of a grandfather who plays many important roles as: PolyPops. It will remind me that one of the roles we  must play is Pollyanna-like; to play a version of The Glad Game when the need arises, to help find things to celebrate.

Hayley Mills as Pollyanna

Hayley Mills as Pollyanna

Occasionally, in the midst of all the mistrust and oneupmanship and bullying and bitterness and bad news so pervasive in our world, maybe the highest calling for grandparents is to bite the bullet and go to Chuck E. Cheese's, or to say, "Yes, let's do jump on the bed, but be careful because all we have now is Obamacare which apparently is the end of life as we know it," or "bedtime; schmedtime, let's have some fun, because life is short and your parents can time-out-chair you back in to shape when you get home." PolyPops to the rescue.

"Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged." --G.K. Chesterton