My granddaughter, Violatte, has the cutest haircut. My oldest daughter, Celese, who is Violatte’s mother, cut it short, right up to Violatte’s chin, and curled it around her face. The choice of the haircut all came about on a certain January day when Violatte’s energy level, from being cooped up all winter, peaked in a dramatic way. Besides 21 month-old Violatte, Celese had a one-month-old baby. While she was changing the baby, she realized that the rest of the house was very quiet, an ominous sign in a house with a small, mobile child. She hurried with her current task and checked on Violatte.

She wasn’t in the bedroom, she wasn’t in the bathroom, she wasn’t in the living room, and Celese finally discovered her in the kitchen. To her horror, she found her beautiful, blond little daughter in front of an open fridge. Violatte stood there with an empty egg carton, and she and every eggsisting element of the kitchen’s eggstremities, without eggception, were surely and eggsactly painted with dripping eggsterior paint.

Knowing a maintenance man was coming to put in some new shelves, she went into overdrive. She cleaned up Violatte first, and then set about working on the kitchen. Fifteen minutes into it, the doorbell rang. Dreading having the maintenance man see her house in a wreck, she nonetheless had to answer the door. She stepped into the living room only to find that, while she was cleaning the kitchen, Violatte had gotten into the newspaper recycle bin and spread newspapers all over everything in there.

In exasperation, she opened the door. The maintenance man could see by the look on her face, and the condition of the room, that all was not well in Mudville, and he did his job quickly and quietly, then excused himself as fast as possible. Celese decided she needed to clean up the living room before anyone else came. She had just finished rebagging the newspapers when she realized that the ominous silence had once again settled on the house.

One more time she set out to find Violatte, only to apprehend her applying Vaseline to her face and hair, as if she were trying to put on makeup with a backhoe. Petroleum products and water don’t mix, and removal of Vaseline from anything is next to impossible without a good scraper and a lot of prayer and meditation. Three baths and five shampoos later, there was something else Celese decided on. And that was how our little granddaughter attained her beautiful new haircut.

When we heard the story, I had to laugh. I think every one of my children has done something similar, but I remember one particular day when I was a young father and my wife had gone to a church meeting. I was left to watch my two little girls. I bathed them and got pajamas on Celese, then I set about dressing the younger daughter. I was singing songs to her and playing piggy on her toes as I buttoned her pajamas, when I heard the only sound more suspicious than silence. Celese was squealing gleefully in the kitchen.

I ran to find the reason for her merriment, and was engulfed in an atomic mushroom cloud made out of flour. Sitting in the middle, with an almost empty 25-pound bag of flour, sat a little two-year-old ghost, throwing handfuls of white powder into the air. I approached in shock, and she said, “Wook, Daddy. My snowed a kitchen.”

Celese finished her own story of her dreadful day, and I pulled my granddaughter on to my lap, smelling the perfumed mixture of Vaseline and baby shampoo in her hair. As I cuddled her close, I thought of the wonderful mother my daughter had become, and remembered a saying I had once heard. “Grandchildren are parents’ reward for what their own children put them through.”

I realized that only too soon, Celese would be pulling a grandchild onto her own lap and thinking the very same thing. Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at [email protected]; or visit his website at https://www.darishoward.com.