Summer is here, providing plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with our grandkids including meals together, sleepovers, walking the dogs and good conversations. One morning after the two youngest grandchildren had spent the night at our house, 8-year old Nate and I had a disagreement about what shoes he should wear on our walk to the park. 

Noticing that he was wearing flip flops, I asked him to put on his tennis shoes. Flip flops weren’t the greatest for walking distances; shoes would be much more comfortable. But my reasoning didn’t convince him. His mind was made up.

“Well, use your best judgment and choose wisely,” I said as we got ready to leave the house.

It was a beautiful morning for a walk. The boys, Nate and brother Elliot, 7, each took one dog by the leash, except for street crossings. Then I took over control of the pets and Nate held Elliot’s hand. Elliot who had followed Nate’s example in wearing flip flops complained that they were rubbing in between his toes.

“Flip flops are not good for walking long distances,” I reiterated. 

Once at the park, the brothers had a great time playing on the equipment and in the sand box. The dogs stayed with me, though wanting to be free from their leashes and romp around with Nate and Elliot. I had to hold them back until it was time to leave the playground. 

We explored a trail that led around a pond to Beverly Hill, most likely formed from the dirt removed when the pond was being dug. The boys walked up the hill, ran down it, went back up and then rolled down again. Elliot was worn out. 

Both boys turned over the dogs’ leashes to me. Nate walked on ahead of us and Elliot walked behind, going slower and slower. I couldn’t really see what Nate was doing, but later found out that he was playing, “kick the shoe!” I had heard of “kick the can,” but not kick the shoe! We caught up to him when he had stopped on the sidewalk underneath a large tree, looking up into its branches. 

“My flip flop is up in that tree!” he announced. 

“How in the world did that happen?” I asked dumbfounded. He told me that he accidentally kicked it there. The black flip flop with green spots on the bottom blended in perfectly with the foliage and was hard to see. Finally, I spotted it way up in the tree. 

Pulling on some of the lower branches didn’t dislodge the sandal. Its strap was securely fastened on a couple of twigs. Nate thought he could climb up into the tree and get it. 

“You can’t do it barefoot.” 

This time I insisted. So he borrowed one of his little brother’s flip flops before scampering up the tree trunk. However, the sandal was way out of reach. It didn’t seem like there were many other options, besides ringing the doorbell of the nearest house and asking to borrow a ladder or using the cell phone to call Al. 

Calling Al turned out to be the best decision. His car soon came into view. Not only did he bring a hula hoe, which worked wonders in dislodging the flip flop, but he also gave us all a ride home. Elliot was happy! So what did grandma learn from that experience? Always carry a hula hoe on a walk? Ha!

Now that the incident has passed, maybe the two boys, grandpa and I need to have another conversation and make it clear from now on that tennis shoes are to be worn when we go for walks. Convincing them to submit to our authority is not always easy, especially in this role of grandparenting, so different than parenting. It takes lots of talking, consistency and patience on our part. Prayers for wisdom help, too!

When advice is ignored and wrong choices are made, hopefully our loved ones will learn from their mistakes — just as we have had to do. May they have the humility to confess their failings and the courage to change for the better. And may God grant them the grace needed to become the people He wants them to be. Help us all, dear Lord!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” — Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV


Judy Lowery lives in Michigan. The Good News column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog,

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