I admit I had given it a thought when he was born but the reality hit me a couple of years ago. We went outside to wander the backyard. As I walked I put my hands in my pockets. I glanced down and saw him studying me intently. He looked down at his own pants, located his pockets and promptly jammed his hands in. It was an epiphany. I started watching the boy and saw how he studied and copied me. He wanted to be near me. To do what Papa did and go where Papa went. I started taking the job very seriously.
I grew up in a time when cartoons were very un PC. Anvils were dropped on heads, explosions could blow one to the moon and falls off a cliff resulted in body shaped holes in the desert floor. All shown uncut and without guilt or shame. Modern cartoons are pretty different. The DO monitors what the kids watch and does a very good job of steering them away from the worst of the brain washing. Still, I thought it was my task to introduce the boy to a cartoon that was manly.
I should point out here that I am still very much a kid at heart. I love good cartoons and even have a list I read online every day. You can see some of them to the right in the Warrior Roll. For TV I still love the classic Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and the like. But there's one that's near and dear to my heart.
I love me some Johnny Quest. When I was a kid I envied Johnny but wanted to grow up to be Race Bannon. Race was all man. He could whip anyone in a straight up fight and usually had a firearm close to hand. He wasn't afraid to use it either. He regularly killed or otherwise caused the death of particularly evil Bad Guys or their Henchmen. Boat, explosion, firearm, tar pit, bridge or cliff, many a monster (both human and inhuman) met their fate at the hands of Race. Johnny, Dr. Quest and Hadji even got in on the action from time to time. The deaths were invariably met with steely resolve and honesty. No guilt or chest beating about the miscreant's childhood or how it was all society's fault. "He got what he deserved Johnny." "There was nothing we could do Johnny." "It was his choice Johnny." Johnny was taught that choices have consequences, that right would always triumph and that justice and defense of self and the defenseless were worth fighting and even killing for.
We have a cable channel that has been playing classic Johnny Quest cartoons. Not the later, politically correct toons but the original, first year episodes. They were on at 4:30 in the afternoon. I took the opportunity to introduce my grandson to what I consider one of the best cartoons American TV has ever produced. The quality is well short of modern but the messages are timeless and uniquely American. They teach self defense, hard work, staying calm in a crisis, the benefits of technology, overcoming difficult odds and situations, friendship, family, conduct and even responsible animal ownership. Bandit the dog went everywhere Johnny went and Johnny learned to trust, care for and protect his canine companion.
Every afternoon we'd sit on Papa's chair and watch together. Where possible, we never missed an episode. Time I cherish, spent with a grandson I love more than my life and a fun part of my job as his grandfather.
A small thing without a doubt. There is so much more I have to teach him. I am acutely aware that he's watching me, soaking in what I do, what I say, how I carry myself and interact with others. He has questions he doesn't even know to ask. Knowledge he needs but isn't yet aware of consciously. But he does instinctively know that I have at least some of his answers and he's determined to get them from me. As I am determined to give them to him. To the best of my ability.
I bought the classic Johnny Quest episodes on DVD. I'll be sending them to him in the next package. I even bought a set for me. The next time we visit, whether he comes to us or we to him, he and I will sit again and watch together. We will bond as only grandfather and grandson can. Lore master and pupil. Man and apprentice. And I will attempt to teach my beloved boy the lessons he needs to be the man I know he can be.
The journey continues even as the circle draws inexorably closer to it's completion.