Double negatives add up to positives in Grandpa’s heart

rick-jacobs-mugshot-2017“Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

Remember this commercial? If you’re old enough, you will. I consider it the second greatest use of a double-negative I’ve ever heard. And I have to believe a child said it first.

“But Daddy,” a sweet, sincere toddler’s voice said, “nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

Daddy writes it down, takes it to the Sara Lee company and they use it to sell millions of pastries.

At least that’s the way I picture it.

Izzy and Caleb could very easily have said it because some of the things they say are equally as simple and no less profound.

First Caleb. (And forgive me Facebook friends some of you have seen these already.)

Not long ago I’m trying to get them ready for pre-K. I was getting their backpacks loaded when Caleb walked from his room, and I noticed his shoes and socks were off.

“Caleb,” I said, “where are your shoes and socks?”

“I took them off,” he answered.

“Why did you take them off?”

“Because I didn’t want them on.”

Silly me for asking. Which brings me to another situation where I asked a similarly silly question. He’d crawled into my lap one evening recently when I was trying to work. That makes it hard to work. I became exasperated.

“Caleb,” I again said, “what are you doing?”

“Sitting in your lap.”

That made me laugh. “Why are you sitting in my lap?”

“Because I like sitting in your lap.”

He could have followed that with, “Captain Obvious” but he didn’t. Of course I let him remain in my lap because I sort of like it as well. He is three after all. Won’t be too many more years before this simple pleasure will end.

On a less happy circumstance, a couple of days ago I was getting the kids in the car to take them to school. I was opening the door for Caleb and I didn’t notice he wasn’t paying attention until it was too late. I couldn’t stop him. He walked blindly into the outer edge of the door, right into the middle of his face. His shocked expression was immediately replaced with a horrific cry of pain.

It was excruciating to watch.

I picked him up and tried to console him. I kissed his face where the door hit him a dozen times. I told him how sorry I was. Finally, when his crying subsided to the point where he could talk, he said, “Papa? Is there a bleed on it?”

I wanted to melt. It wasn’t bleeding, so I said, “No, Caleb. No bleed.”

Within seconds he was fine, talking and laughing as if it never happened. Apparently blood is the key. No blood, move on.

Izzy has her share of these priceless moments as well. I was trying to figure out what to cook for supper one evening when I decided I just didn’t want to cook. So I found a frozen dinner that consisted of some sort of meat smothered in gravy and a side of broccoli. I nuked it according to the instructions and then set it in front of Izzy, well aware of the stab of guilt which had nestled into the pit of my stomach.

I needn’t have worried. Izzy ate every bite. And then she actually said to me, “Papa, thank you so much for that delicious dinner that you prepared for me!”

She’s only four. I don’t know where she got that. She sure didn’t hear Susie say it.

Now, you may recall at the beginning of this column that I wrote about the second greatest double negative I’d ever heard. Now I’ll tell you about the greatest one.

As the custodial Papa, I don’t have the luxury of hopelessly spoiling Izzy and Caleb and then giving them back to parents who have to deal with it.

Susie and I, in effect, are their parents.

Therefore I have to discipline now and then. It isn’t fair. And I hate it. And it worries me. But, apparently, I’m not the Ogre I picture myself to be. Izzy set me straight not long ago.

“But, Papa,” she said sincerely, “you’re never not nice.”

And I’ll never not love hearing that.

RICK JACOBS is a local author, columnist, process server and family man who lives in Bartlett with his wife and grandchildren. Contact him at