Trial Balloon

Who am I today? Or, Am I my own Grandpa?

Posted at 5:34 AM on March 31, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (23 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Ben

I was pleased to discover recently that I'm distantly related to an acquaintance. His Grandfather's Uncle married my aunt. So that makes him..... well I don't know but I couldn't be more pleased! We all know about Six Degrees of Separation but to see it in action is such a cool thing!

And isn't it that sort of discovery that makes life so much fun! Just when you think you've got it all figured out you find out you're not who you thought you were!

My wife, Kelly, recently acted in a play that required her to dye her hair dark brown (her hair is naturally red) so right now she looks different. She also needed temporary tattoos covering her arms and upper body for the show. I told her one day that if she looked like that when we first met I probably wouldn't have been interested in her. She said if she did look like that she probably wouldn't have been interested in me. So there.

When I was milking cows I would grow a beard every winter. It was just a practical thing to do as it kept my face warm. And then would come some day in the spring when my little voice would say, "...Shave..." so I'd shave. Since I don't have the cows any more I haven't had the practical need for a beard but sometimes I get tired of shaving, hence a beard this winter. And it was the same this year with the little voice (not to mention the beard was scratchy) so I'm back to being clean-shaven.

The consensus? I look like me again.

Playing dolls with my daughter is one of our favorite activities. She assigns me the roles of Mom, Dad, Aunt Snow White and Brother Ben. And she plays all the sisters and various hangers-on. And that works out great --I get to talk in Monty Python old women voices, practice accents, improvisation and character development. Sometimes our son will join in as 'Annoying Big Brother', Real Mom becomes referee, our indoor dog, Allie 'SuperDog' Bolt' adds to the confusion, the room ends up in complete disarray and it's the best of times!

Life, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

How many different roles have you played? Which one is your favorite?


Comments (23)

wow, Ben - thanks for making my brain work so early in the morning - great piece!
no surprises from me, i'm afraid - boring but true. i am happiest in my current role(s) - as wife to Steve who my able helper and midwife, and as caretaker of the critters. goatmom fits me very well. i'm challenged mentally and physically almost every day, blah, blah, blah you all know the story.

off to a very busy day. our kiddos doing well, but will go see and help care for a new batch of Majority's kids - triplets - two doelings and a buckling. oh ya, he's the man he's saying. :-)

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 31, 2010 6:10 AM


Great blog, Ben... love it.

Over the years I played lots of roles: the smart daughter, the stage manager, the single mother (which, of course, entails nurse, counselor, chaffeur, sherpa, jailer, grocery shopper, fundraiser, etc.). And add neighbor, travel employee, board member, church member, parent volunteer. Truly, if we strip away all our roles and hats, what's left underneath?

Posted by sherrilee | March 31, 2010 6:16 AM


Oh, forgot an important role... goat lurker. Barb -- thanks for updated pictures on blog. Dancer is just the sweetest looking little thing! Hope she is more sturdy today.

Posted by sherrilee | March 31, 2010 6:18 AM


Good Morning Role Players,

I do some times have roles that I play. At my house I am refered to as Dim at times because I have been to Bulgaria and the the closest sound to the J sound in Bulgarian is D. So I become Dim, the guy who has been to Bulgaria and talkes about Bulgaria a little too much..

At my daughter's house I have a reputation for accidently spilling red wine on the carpet. So some times when I am there I am joked about as the clumsy guy who can't be trusted near red wine.

A more positive role is dressing up as Santa Claus and trying to fool young granddaughters, but they are older now and they know it is me under the Santa beard. I don't know of any favorite big role I play, but I do have a number of more or less comic small roles.

Posted by Jim | March 31, 2010 6:18 AM


Wow, Ben, this is a deep one. And very nicely written.

BTW as a former cow milker you will want to check out today's Writer's Almanac.

My list of main roles quickly swelled to 13 and could be doubled with little effort.

Two things make me comfortable with others. First, I prefer people whose set of roles is coherent, not disintegrated. Some folks want to be the bold leader and the supportive friend, and those roles sometimes clash. I like people whose various identities are so harmonious I don't have to figure out who they are each time I encounter them.

And we all like people whose favorite roles are ones they can play well. It is difficult to be with someone who wants to be a pundit or comedian . . . and just can't deliver.

Favorite roles? That's easy: father, lover, dependable friend. In two weeks we'll take a crack at a new one: grandfather.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 31, 2010 6:22 AM


ben, nicely done. aren't those little girls a great reason to live. they keep you alive. i remember hearing about the difference in boys and girls in a political discussion years ago. how the boys play war and hockey and the girls set up intimate and complex relationship plays and work out hte different scenarios as their play. who wouldyou rather have make you governmental decisions for you.
roles ... i had a few , but then again i hate to mention ... that i , i have a thing, a litlle thing, that causes tension,'
i jump around within my brain and then i land on some strange highway and stay just for a while. i play roles my way.

happy wednesday rhers.

Posted by tim | March 31, 2010 6:36 AM


Greetings! Very nice piece, Ben! And as a Dad who can get down to play dolls with daughters and turn it into a theatrical improvisation has my total respect.

While my boys are teenagers, I do enjoy doing karate and sparring with them. The oldest is in Marines and just bought a big gun. Maybe I'll go out to the range and shoot with him next time he's home.

It's hard to track all the roles I've played -- but my favorites for now are mother, confidante and wife. As a young woman, these were the last things I ever wanted to be or do. Priorities have changed ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | March 31, 2010 6:59 AM


Ben-great blog!

In my role as a geneticist I have to admit that I once drew the family tree for the "I'm my own grandpa" song. When you look at it graphically it is easy to see the fallacies.

When my son was small he would assign roles. I was always 2nd fiddle. He was Kirby Puckett and I was Kent Hrbek. He was Batman and I was Robin. When he had surgery he was the distinguished attending surgeon and I was the intern. From his carseat throne he would say "I am Santa. Now elf drive me home." Now he is the fun-loving 6th year college student and I am the tuition paying mom-same roles different costumes.

Enjoy the glorious day!

Posted by Beth-Ann | March 31, 2010 7:17 AM


back in from an early milking and heading to an early getaway - but just want to clarify:
the blog you enjoy, with all of the photos of the baby goats and the clever captions - that is not my role. that's Steve's. he's the talented minimalist on our little farm. you know i would blather on and on :-)
happy end of March
everyone looks really, really great out there today; lifts my heart.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 31, 2010 7:23 AM


Beth-Ann LOL! Well put!

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 31, 2010 7:24 AM


Like a lot of us, one of my favorite current roles is Mom - though it's even better when I get to be Silly Mom (which could be anything from playing with words to singing to playing with art materials to whatever else is dreamed up that day). I was once instructed to "not be silly at school" when I came in to volunteer - when prompted, Daughter explained that she didn't want to share Silly Mom, wanted her all to herself. She got over that after the day I went in to her class and had the kids dance like trolls to Grieg (I, of course, had to dance, too).

I am also fond of She Who Uses Power Tools, She Who Writes Competently, She Who Can Explain, She Who Is a Good Friend, and Member of the Family.

Thanks for the fun start of the day, Ben! (And to Elinor and Clyde who I failed to thank on the previous days...)

Posted by Anna | March 31, 2010 7:41 AM


Like Ben, I have experience doing make believe games with little girls, first my daughters and now my granddaughters. I guess girls do generally have a more gentle type of play compared to that of boys. I wonder if boys don't end up with the type of play they usually do because that is what is expected of them and not so much because they are "made that way".

Posted by Jim | March 31, 2010 7:54 AM


What a thought provoking blog entry! How postmodern! ;-)

Two of the major roles I've assumed in my lifetime have many sub-roles and are both sub-roles of the other. They are mother and teacher. As a teacher, I even had persona I would drag out to make points to students if they were misbehaving, which they frequently were, of course. I guess my most cherished roles have been daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, and artist. Then, there are the utilitarian roles such as co-worker, employee, neighbor, etc. The list grows when we have to examine all the ways we present ourselves to the various people in our lives each day.

One thing I love about running is that, when I am running, the necessity to portray myself in any role is suspended. Sure, when I am with other runners, I'm a fellow runner, but that is a social thing. I love being out alone on the trail, completely free, being nothing more than the motion that carries me. It's important to cast aside the many hats we daily wear from time to time.

Happy Wednesday, all!

Posted by elinor | March 31, 2010 8:07 AM


It seems no matter what role I think I'm going to play (teacher, bookseller, volunteer, wife, mom, grandma, daughter...), I frequently end up being counselor, peacemaker, cheerer-upper. I'm not sure if I unconsciously choose relationships where I'll be able to play these roles that seem to come easily to me, or if people who need these things gravitate toward me. Probably both... I like to be needed.

I too, enjoy playing dolls with the little girl across the street. I have a play house set up in an cozy alcove at the top of the stairs.I'd forgotten how much fun pretend is, and how creative we all are. When Son was little, we'd play GI Joes with him sometimes, but I wasn't any good and always wound up being the nurse.

Fun morning, Ben.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 31, 2010 8:10 AM


I am often assigned roles in play therapy-usually that of the naughty child in a classroom, or a bad guy, or a horse or cow that needs roping, or a witch, or a doctor/patient who needs medical care. In life outside the play room I am a mom (sometimes loathsome, sometimes appreciated), daughter (or spoiled only child), music booster president, bell ringer, choir alto, Suzuki string parent, baker, gardener, wife, mechanic and fix-it person, expert witness, and slave to pets. No wonder I'm always so tired! Thanks to all the guest bloggers.

Posted by Renee | March 31, 2010 8:14 AM


Good Morning RH,

Y'all have so many admirable roles. Many of mine include the ones associated with family, which for the most part, have been named. Parenting has been my favorite. I love spending precious time with the young adults my kids are now, but I dearly miss the little years and envy those of you who have children (and goatlings) underfoot. That's why I stick with first grade.

Spring Break begins today with 6 days off. In half an hour I will assume the role of yard worker.

Catcha later on the flip flip!
There's a piece a piece of comedy for ya that doesn't deliver, Steve.

Posted by Donna | March 31, 2010 9:23 AM


Forgot to tell Ben, "Good writing!"
And also, I think that's the first time I've stuttered on the blog.

Posted by Donna | March 31, 2010 9:29 AM


Great comments everyone- Thanks!
And thanks to Dale for his help tweaking this and making it read as good as it does.

I just touched the tip of the roles we all play; I didn't even get into 'husband, son, spouse and all that... I did just get back from the role of blood donor and I've got the cookies to prove it!

I don't think any of you took it this way but I want to clarify how much fun my wife and son are; Yes, I called him 'annoying big brother' but that's a family joke and he knows one of his roles is to antagonize his sister... it's spring break this week and Mom and I are both working so they're both home and he's been "in charge". To Amelia that may be debatable! Hah!
And my beautiful wife Kelly is not always the referee... she and Amelia just play different than me and Amelia.
I am very VERY fortunate to have such a great, loving family and to play the role of husband and father to all of them.

And Steve, cows and mud?? That writer is definitely suffering from delusions and forgetting how annoying that mud was.
My role was 'crabby pants' during mud season!

I feel the need to share our daughter is 14 and has some special needs; she has Down Syndrome... stirring in the back of my mind is a story about dealing with that but I haven't found all the words yet. No serious medical problems and she's a great kid that we expect much from... but there's more in there somewhere...
Thanks everyone!

Enjoy the sunshine and beautiful day where ever you are!

Posted by Ben | March 31, 2010 10:27 AM


Good work, Ben. It is warm and sunny here so I am going to take up the same role as Donna, yard worker.

Posted by Jim | March 31, 2010 10:29 AM


We have sun, too, except there is a front moving in and we could have 3/4 inch of rain over the next couple of days, unless, of course, it gets cold and it turns to snow. I want to be a yard worker, but I may be shoveling snow instead.

Posted by Renee | March 31, 2010 10:53 AM


In thinking of more roles, I started thinking about ones I'd LIKE to portary, or portray more often. A la Anna: She Who Dances and Sings, She Who Travels Far and Wide, She Who Sheds 30#s, She Who Can Build her Own Shelf, and yes, She Who Uses Power Tools (love that one, Anna).

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 31, 2010 11:36 AM


Barbara in Robbinsdale - I will admit to being prouder than I probably should be that I received power tools as wedding gifts (my husband will tell you these were gifts clearly for me and not him), and also that my daughter refers to them as "Mommy's toys" and "Mommy's tools." If you ever need to borrow a cordless reciprocating saw, drill, circular saw...I can hook you up. ;)

Posted by Anna | March 31, 2010 12:08 PM


Anna - I'll keep you in mind if I need something we don't have!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 31, 2010 8:54 PM


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