Of birthdays and beanie babies

“My birthday party is Saturday. You can get me a Beanie Baby. We can’t find them here. You can bring my dad a gift too, if you want,” our granddaughter born on his birthday 11 years ago said.
A gift for her dad and mom sat on the bookshelf, but we had no idea what to buy her. Now we knew. Her mom said, “She puts a Beanie Baby in each pocket of her bib overalls and wears them to school.”
One determined grandfather set out to buy a Beanie Baby before we reached his son’s house in northern Indiana. Someone told him they were sold at a chain of restaurants with large gift shops. It was a trip of restaurant deja vu. Each had a row of rockers on the porch, the same parking lot layouts and collectibles, home decorations and identical candy counters. And each was sold out of Beanie Babies.
We checked malls and department stores from Missouri to Indiana. Everywhere we heard, “We expect a shipment in a couple of days, but they always sell out within hours.” We were almost there when we saw one more mall. The first store was a brightly decorated, school supply store with a small collection of Beanie Babies and products for a few dollars apiece. My husband’s quest was over.
As we walked back to the mini-van, my 16-year-old muttered, “I hope you work as hard for my children when I have them.” At the birthday party, the floppy critters were eagerly added to the second oldest granddaughter’s collection.
As she thanked her grandfather profusely. Her older sister smiled shyly from the sidelines. She invited us to shoot hoops in the driveway. I missed – a lot. My daughter and husband fared little better. The oldest granddaughter made basket after basket as her father stood under the net and fed her the ball.
“Is it just my imagination or are you good at this?” My daughter was astonished. The hoop mistress smiled shyly.
Her dad explained, “She won first place in her age category for hitting baskets at her school.. Then she won first at both district and state regional. That was as far as the competitions went.” He collection of plaques and trophies were too big for her pockets.
She remained quietly confident when a visiting teen-age boy took up her proud uncle’s challenge. “She can beat you.” The guy handled the ball confidently. HE was good for his age. It was girls against boys. The boys lost. During the second game, he disappeared when the girls were ahead 7 to 4.
The basketball star of the day whispered a dream of getting a basketball scholarship to college. I suddenly realized that her winning streak on the grade school wrestling team wasn’t part of a passing phase. We have an athletic granddaughter.
This from a father who declared, “I grew up in a house of boys. I want daughters.” My stepson has his wish. Two of them. A teen-age athlete who can hold her own against the guys and a gregarious grade schooler with floppy critters in her pockets.