Growing up the daughter of a local football legend, Michelle Staubach Grimes says she got used to the limelight.
“It’s all we knew,” she explains. “It was a different world, too. We didn’t have social media. I’m sure, now, growing up as Tony Romo’s kids would be very difficult.”
Her father, Roger Staubach, was one of Dallas Cowboys’ most celebrated players but during off-seasons, he hung up his pads to focus on the more mundane world of real estate. For the first part of their lives, Grimes and her siblings attended public school. The family lived in Richardson, in “a cute little neighborhood.” It all sounds very “Leave it to Beaver,” but if you remain unconvinced, try reading Grimes’ new children’s book, “Where is Pidge?” It is a testament to the utter normalcy of her upbringing.
The story isn’t purely autobiographical, but it includes plenty of personal details. Pidge, the book’s protagonist, is the middle child in a large family and sometimes feels lost in her sea of siblings. Grimes, one of five children, can relate.
Convinced she won’t be missed, Pidge decides to run away from home. Her plan is to slide down the laundry chute and sneak out the back door, but she manages to get stuck instead. While trapped in the chute, Pidge overhears her worried family’s concern, and ultimately learns just how much she’s loved.
Grimes recounts the time she and her sisters made a similarly weak attempt at running away from home.
“I don’t recall what we were mad about,” she says. “We made it across the street to the park and hung out there for about an hour. I think my dad came and said, ‘Hey, just checking on you all,’ but we realized on our own it was a little better at home.”
Grimes chose to self-publish, because she wanted to be involved with all aspects of the book’s production. She worked with illustrator Bill DeOre, who drew characters that pay homage to members of Grimes’ family. Pidge’s dog is named Maverick, just like Grimes’ real life pooch. One of Pidge’s sisters is prone to prancing around in a tutu, and Grimes’ own daughter is a dancer. Pidge’s dad wears a no. 12 football jersey, just like Grimes’ father did when he was a star quarterback.
And as for the laundry chute? Grimes has never been lodged in one herself, but she knows someone who has – her sister, Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates. As a teenager, the District 13 representative had to be “wiggled out” of the tight space by a next-door neighbor.
Grimes plans to write more books featuring Pidge. Her children – who at ages 12, 14, and 16 aren’t her target audience – are supportive of their mother’s passion, but have gotten a little “Pidged-out.” That doesn’t stop Grimes.
“I write at the kitchen table and all over the house,” she says. “It’s a big part of my life.”