A Different Sort of Badge

For twenty years, I wore the badge of a police officer on the East Providence Police Department. Wearing that badge never seemed a burden, and I wore it with pride.

But now, all these years after my retirement from those days, I get to wear an even more important badge.

It isn’t gold or silver or shiny. It takes on many forms and shapes, often showing up in places one wouldn’t expect to find a badge. But it is, to me, the most important badge I have ever worn.

My wife and I have the great fortune of spending much of our day caring for our grandson, Levi, while his parents plod their way through to an onerous, but necessary, workday. While caring for a 6-month-old has its challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Each day, when one gets to experience life through the eyes, smiles, screams, and facial expressions of an infant—especially the ones we recognize as portents of an artistically filled diaper with all its otherworldly colors and consistencies—it opens a window on a whole new world.

Through my sixty-five-year-old eyes, while I strive to hold on to imagination and wonder, so many things have passed by me, I often miss the simple majesty of a leave falling from a tree, or a squirrel burying acorns, or a stuffed animal, animated in my hands, which brings the look of wonder to Levi’s eyes.

Levi makes the world new again.

When he needs something, even absent the power of speech, he can use his powers of persuasion to sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully, lead you to the solution, be it food, a clothing change, or nap time. He does this without words and is better at communication than most people I know.

We learn to be creative in our entertaining skills. While he comes equipped with a plethora of toys and equipment to engage him, we have sometimes found a solution in the most unlikely of activities.

The sound of fingernails scrapped along the couch, something so new to his ears as to border on fascinating, will hold his attention. Or a new game I invented called, “Rolled up newspaper smashing,” where I take a few pages of a grocery store ad, roll it up and whack things — myself, the table, Levi’s legs—something that causes waves of giggling, chortling delight for him.

My only fear is, if he remembers such antics after he gains the power of speech, he may someday tell a story in school about how his grandfather would hit him with a rolled-up newspaper. Context might be lost and I might have some ‘splaining to do.

And the badge, you might ask? Inevitably, after being fed, Levi sometimes sends some of his meal back out into the world and on to me. It has become, for me, a new badge of honor. And while I don’t parade it around for more than the time to wipe it off, I wear it with pride.

All Levi has to do is smile, which he does almost all the time, and all is right with the world. I will bear those daily badges proudly and remember them fondly all the days of my life.


JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

4 thoughts on “A Different Sort of Badge

  1. Love it, I too proudly wore those badges, my charge is now 21 and does remember quite a few of our favorite things to do back then. Enjoy and cherish.

  2. Joe like you I spent a career in law enforcement in N. Kingstown. I have been a grandfather for 15 years. I’ve been blessed with 6 wonderful grandkids and my wife and I have been with them all since birth. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Leave a Reply