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Be careful what you say around little ones

From the crest of De Grey hill on Highway 34 it is possible to see a long reach of the Missouri River, from the wide corners that lead to the Big Bend all the way upstream toward Pierre.

Last Sunday afternoon, that stretch of the river was one long mirror. What a perfect afternoon to be out on the water, I thought to myself. Nancy sighed, then said, "It isn't as calm as it was at Chamberlain."

Well, perhaps not. What I could see of the river when we left Chamberlain an hour or so earlier was one big sheet of glass. At De Grey, there may indeed have been a couple of ripples -- maybe. Or maybe Nancy was poor-mouthing the river because it was the perfect afternoon for a couple of boating nuts to be somewhere upstream from Oahe Dam in the middle of the lake, and here we were driving Highway 34. We were going to get back to town too late to get the boat out and enjoy an afternoon cruise, too, so there wasn't much point in admiring the quality of the water we weren't on.

Truth be told, we knowingly and willingly made the decision to miss one of the best boating days of the summer. We could have been on the water. We had gone to Chamberlain on Saturday because I was helping with the noon luncheon of the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Even though my obligation at that event ended about 2 p.m., we figured we would stay late to see two of the granddaughters -- and our son and daughter-in-law, too, of course. We took overnight bags, just in case it got really late, but we told each other we probably wouldn't stay overnight, and if we did, we would for sure get going early on Sunday and be back in Pierre before noon. The latest forecast called for sun, a warm temperature and no wind, and we weren't going to miss the river on a day like that.

Then the granddaughters, the two still in Chamberlain, had to go and get all adorable on us.

Two of the Chamberlain granddaughters are at college now in Brookings. That's where a third granddaughter lives. That left two in Chamberlain, but 16-year-old Frankie and 2 and one-half-year-old Sage were adorable enough for five grandkids last weekend. When you get a chance to spend time with kids like that, it's hard to back out of the driveway and leave town. We stayed a little past our planned departure time, and I'll never regret it. We miss plenty of the cool things these kids do just because we live in a different city. Why miss more by rushing off when you've finally gotten to their town?

We see our family quite often, but it's never enough for us. We miss touching moments every day we aren't around the kids. Here's an example. The other day (we weren't there), Sage and her folks were visiting her great-grandmother. As they walked toward the great-grandmother's room, Sage said she hoped when they got there, she could have some C-A-N-D-Y.

Well. I couldn't tell you if Sage had a clue what any of those letters are or how a person can use them to make words to put into sentences to form paragraphs and so on. For sure she knows that sequence of letters means something sweet. Somewhere along the line she heard one of her parents or sisters or great-grandmother use those letters, and she figured out the adult was talking about candy.

Maybe every 2-year-old knows how grown-ups spell candy. I couldn't say. I know this one does, and it makes me wonder what all else she understands about the grown-up talk that routinely goes on around her day and night.

It's the sort of thing that makes a guy want to hang around the grandkids as much as he can. It's also the sort of thing that makes him realize he'd better pay close attention to the things he says and does when he's around them.

They seem to be paying attention.