It isn't often that I admit that I have a few cracks in my armor, weaknesses that confound me, an Achilles' heel that undermines me...my own Kryptonite, dammit. Long ago, I knew a young lass who once gave me my all-time favorite description of myself. She said: "Underneath that armor and attitude you wear, you're nothing but a big ol' teddy bear...wrapped around a solid steel frame." She then proceeded to call me her Teddy Bear Terminator, which I still think is perfect. I can be all crusty, blustery, and mean-spirited, but there are a few things that crack open my shell and warm even my genially malicious insides.
The handsome gents in the top picture are Grant and Austin, my two Florida-based nephews. Joined by the dapper Arkansas fellow below them, Tylar, they form a sort of Three Musketeers of pure mayhem, of which only an uncle can be proud (and a parent can only tolerate). Next to her brother is younger sister Reilly, who it could be argued is meaner than the three of them together, and has the best fastball in the family. I'm not kidding.
They're good kids, all of them. They're the kinds of kids that gives one hope for the future (well, except for Tylar - kidding!) They're lucky, too, in that they've all got good parents who've brought them up right* and grandparents who have spoiled them rotten. In fact, one set of hands that does the spoiling is the same set that used to smack the crap out my brothers and me. But, in their defense, we usually did deserve it.
Earlier this week, I found myself feeling uncle-ish and wanted to share these, for no good reason whatsoever. I've always said I was going to keep my girlfriend, my folks, my brothers, and my sisters-in-law off the site - just to avoid the embarrassment of having to admit they know a writer. (It's the whole handwashing thing, you know.) But my niece and my nephews are young enough that embarrassment hasn't yet kicked in, and not yet worldly enough to have marred the concept of appearing on a fourth-rate blog as anything but "cool!"
Well, maybe. I'm kind of hoping for "cool," but I'll settle for "send him another card for Christmas. Just don't give him any more photos."
On that, I'm out. I love all y'all - even the ones I didn't mention by name.
*I was going to make a snarky comment about thanking God that the kids all got their looks from their mothers, but that would be genially malicious.