A young boy without parents asks his grandfather to participate in the school festival. Everyone is stunned when the older gentleman takes the prize in every contest.
Billy Grover hated his new school, and he was sure everyone at his new school hated HIM. Changing schools and home at twelve because your parents were dead was awful.
Billy missed his mom and dad, and he missed his friends and all the familiar sights and sounds of New York City. His grandfather was doing his best, but Billy was sure he’d hate Ohio forever.
“Billy,” his homeroom teacher said. “You’re new, so you don’t know about our Spring School Festival. We have a barbecue, and we have all sorts of competitions for children and parents.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it will be a good opportunity for you to get to know everyone better!”
“I don’t think so, M’am,” Billy mumbled. “I don’t think I’ll be able to come…”
Don’t underestimate the abilities and wisdom of the elderly.
The teacher frowned. “You have to, Billy!” she said. “I’m sending a note home to your parents!”
“I don’t have any parents,” Billy said. “Only my grandpa…”
The other kids were looking at him and whispering to each other and he felt like a total freak. He ducked his head so they couldn’t see he was blushing and that his eyes were filled with tears.
“He’s crying!” said one of the other kids and hooted derisively. “Cry-baby! Cry-baby!”
Billy walked home with the note from his teacher burning a hole in his backpack. He stomped into the kitchen and threw the note on the table. “There,” he said. “For some lame festival we HAVE to go to!”
“The Spring School Festival!” Grandpa said. “I’d forgotten about that. It’s a lot of fun! A big bake-off and a barbecue and competitions…”
“Right!” Billy said. “I don’t have parents, so I’ll be even more of a freak.”
“I used to compete when your dad was your age,” Grandpa said thoughtfully. “I even won a few times.”
“You WON?” asked Billy excitedly. “If you could win again this year… I’d get major respect!”
“You can, Grandpa!” Billy protested. “I KNOW you can!”
Grandpa saw that Billy was actually excited about something for the first time since he’d moved to Ohio. He made up his mind. He was going to compete, and do his very best to win Parent of the Year.
To win, he explained to Billy, he’d have to participate in as many contests as he could and win three challenges.
“Which ones, Grandpa?” he asked.
Grandpa picked up the list and hummed. “Let’s see: pie bake-off, sock darning, fly-tying, egg race…”
GRANDPA!” Billy howled. “Those are LAME!”
“…and archery,” Grandpa concluded. “I should be able to win three of those.”
Billy thought it ALL sounded lame. He knew his schoolmates would be laughing. Why couldn’t his grandfather be cool? It was with a heavy heart that Billy set off for the Spring School Festival.
Billy cringed when his Grandpa enrolled in the sock-darning and the pie bake-off challenges and the pretty mom taking down names giggled. “Are you sure, sir?” she asked, curling her lip.
“Quite sure, young lady!” Grandpa said cheerfully, and he went off to the egg race, the fly-tying, and the archery range. People were looking at Grandpa and smiling. Billy was sure they were mocking him.
The smiles faded when Grandpa baked a delicious cranberry, apple, and walnut pie with meringue topping. The judges swooned, and the moms looked very sour when Grandpa won.
The sock-darning was another triumph! Grandpa emptied his sock basket faster than any of the ladies, and his darns were PERFECT. “HOW?” asked one of the mothers.
Grandpa grinned. “I was in the Navy, a submariner,” he explained. “We were months underwater. I learned to darn my socks and everyone else’s!”
The fly-tying competition was a walk in the park for Grandpa, who tied a lovely, tremulous dragonfly that looked absolutely real. He ran the egg race like a pro and crossed the finish line centimeters in front of the fastest mom.
The one challenge left was the one Billy was now nervous about. All the dads taking part in the archery contest were YOUNG and burly and muscular.
Would Grandpa with his skinny arms be able to even draw the bow?
One of the dads sneered. “You sure you can do this, pops?” he asked. “Mind your arthritis!”
But Grandpa was cool as a cucumber. He picked up the bow and strung it. Then he drew the bowstring to his chin in one powerful movement, and Billy saw that his arms were wiry with muscle. TWANG!
The arrow was off, and Billy heard a gasp from the spectators. Grandpa’s arrow hit the center of the bullseye! In the next hour, Grandpa wiped the floor with all the dads and won the archery trophy.
“With FIVE VICTORIES, the winner of Parent of the Year goes to…Mr. Grover!” said the school principal. “Most of you are too young to remember, but Mr. Grover is a FIVE-TIME champion!”
Billy nearly exploded with pride when Grandpa received the award! The other kids were looking at him respectfully. “Hey, Billy,” one of them said. “Has your Grandpa taught you fly-tying? Maybe we could go fishing…”
“Yeah… He’s way cool. Do you think he’d teach us to shoot the bow?” asked another boy
“Sure!” Billy said smiling. “Come on over tomorrow after school and I’ll ask him!”
“That’s a ‘yes,’” said Billy’s Grandpa, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Come on by, boys, and I’ll even bake some apple pie for you all!”
What can we learn from this story?
Change is one of the hardest things to accept. Billy was unhappy because he lost his parents and had to move to Ohio with his grandfather, but he learned to make new friends.
Don’t underestimate the abilities and wisdom of the elderly. Billy was stunned to discover his grandfather had a lot of different talents and was very cool!
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.