June 2009 Column Winner

Uninvited visitors can turn out to be a joy
By Jerry Whited - Owasso Reporter June 9, 2009

He arrived on our doorstep a little over a week ago. He’d been waiting at our mail box until we got home from work.

We didn’t know he was coming, so it was quite a shock to have this little boy — probably a second grader — a stranger, ready to be entertained for a week or so. We weren’t told how long he was going to stay.

It took us a while to sort out what was happening, because all we had was a note he gave us. It said he had come for a visit for a few days and he would be interested in finding out what we did so he could take the information back home and to school so he could report on his experiences.

Now, it’s one thing to entertain grandchildren for a week or two during the summer. You know your kids’ kids, to some extent, and want to get to know them better. You don’t mind taking them places and entertaining them, to the extent one generation can amuse those two generations removed.

You love them as only grandparents can, and the little irritating habits they’ve picked up which might be frowned upon are let go, at least for the time being so their experience with you can be as rewarding for both parties as possible and so their mom and dad will speak to you upon their return home.

But to do that for a strange kid is stretching it. Still, you realize you have a responsibility, and this person is here because his parent or guardian trusted us to show him a good time and to be safe in our care. But it’s scary to be responsible for someone we don’t know—not even his family. Somebody must have recommended us.

Anyway, our new friend seems content enough and isn’t intimidated by us at all. He’s not one to demand a lot of attention, but is happy to go where we go and do what we do. The first evening we went for a walk and he helped me rake up some leaves.
We sat around and read that evening and he wasn’t upset we didn’t turn on the TV. I thought, here’s someone who doesn’t have to be babysat with children’s TV programs, which endeared him to me a bit.

The next day I took him to work with me and I didn’t hear a peep from him. He was so quiet few knew he was around. That’s my kind of boy.

I never told you his name. In fact, we had a little problem with it at first. The note said his name was “Flat Nathan.” I thought I was reading it wrong, but sure enough, that was his name. I guess countrified kids get all kinds of names.

Or possibly that could have been a nickname. He was, after all, pencil thin. We had thought we needed to fatten him up a bit during our stay, but it didn’t happen. He just didn’t eat much at all.

His clothes were Crayola colorful, unusual for a farm boy—no bib overalls for this one—and he was so partial to them they were the only ones he would wear all week.

He wouldn’t even allow us to wash them. So as the days wore on, instead of getting closer we found ourselves keeping our distance.

We took him to church with us and I took him to the Rotary meeting with me. We played tennis, but I couldn’t get him to chase the balls. We had a lot of fun together.

After a week or so we felt it was time for him to go home. We took a picture with him next to an “Owasso” sign so his parents would know where he had been and so he could remember his visit for years to come.

We put him in an envelope and addressed it to his guardian, a Mr. Nathan Lamb, who lives in El Dorado Springs, Mo.

Oh, did I not tell you? Flat Nathan was a little paper cutout boy. Nathan’s teacher had given him and his classmates a project of sending their namesakes to someone and have them write back the experiences they had. And it just so happens that Nathan’s second-grade teacher is my niece, Tessie.

Thanks to Tessie and Nathan, we’ll long remember our experience of hosting our good friend Flat.