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arguing wth love

One of life’s great pleasures – being insulted by your grandchildren. At the playground with Eli and his new basketball – that I bought him – and our frisbee, he said, “We’re here to play frisbee and basketball, and you’re bad at BOTH OF THEM.”

Then he showed me how to shoot baskets – hold the ball this way, shoot out from the chest. I got better, but nearly not as good at this boy. Who is seven.

A sleepover with Glamma. We went to Loblaws on the way home to get supplies. What did he want for supper? The usual – salmon, rice, and avocado. This young man is very fussy, but he can eat an incredible amount of salmon, rice, and avocado. Followed by his favourite ice cream – and, coincidentally, mine – mint chocolate chip, only he has his with crushed up Oreo cookies. We’d already played basketball in the Sprucecourt playground and watered the garden thoroughly. After dinner he wanted to watch a movie and eat junk food which we’d also bought according to his specifications: Cheetos and ketchup potato chips. His knowledge of junk food is encyclopedic. I told him it’s possible to watch a movie without eating junk food, but he did not believe me. We watched some of the new Spiderman with a bowl of that stuff, and I have to say the crispy neon orange Cheetos were going down well for us both.

But then that was enough, time for bed and reading. I read the last six chapters of Charlotte’s Web and wept. One of the great endings in literature. “It’s not often someone is both a good writer and a good friend. Charlotte was both.” When I’d finished, Eli said, “Which one is this, 1, 2, 3, or 4?” He was, in his way, requesting a sequel. “This is the only one,” I had to say. And then finally, he slept, while my upstairs tenant and her father moved her out.

At one point, we were talking about age, and Eli said, “I know how old you are. You’re tired.”

This morning I was having a wonderful dream – I was talking to a receptive group about, strangely, dialectical materialism (about which I know nothing) when my dream was interrupted by a soft knocking. Someone was knocking in my dream, and then in my bedroom. It was my grandson at 6.15, wide awake and ready to party. I had to get up, and by 6.30 he had eaten the leftover salmon, rice, and avocado. “Can we go play basketball now?” he asked. “NO!” said his grandmother. But I didn’t want to be “tired,” so by 9 a.m. – 9 a.m. on a holiday Monday – we were back at Sprucecourt where I proved my incompetence once again. But I tried. “This is why I go to the Y,” I thought, as I tried to block the young man who was dribbling and sinking with great skill. “I’m going to play for the Raptors,” he said, echoing surely 85% of the youthful population of this city.

And then to the Regent Park playground to hang upside down and scrabble in the filthy sand. And then home, for the great treat of pancakes.

At midday we joined his mother at Queen’s Park. Since the disgusting Doug Ford cancelled Canada Day there so he would not have to listen to the province booing him, many groups arranged to meet and picnic there. Eli and I went to meet his mama, who’d had the night off. She had warned me but I did not understand – she was there not for the main Canada Day celebrations but with an Indigenous group on one side, who were protesting colonialism. She had brought a lot of food to contribute to their potluck; they held a smudging ceremony, and Anna wrote a sign.

I want to celebrate this magnificent country, which has made terrible mistakes, as have all countries, but which does so much right. But my daughter is determined to hold up a mirror to our flaws. I see this as a recipe for eternal anger about an 150-year-old injustice. I think she sees me as a complacent dreamer. 
I have to get used to the fact that I think of myself as a progressive empathetic leftwing person unless I’m with my daughter, when I’m a white middle-class stick-in-the-mud. 
Nicole came, and we cleaned the top floor. The tenant who left yesterday, a young playwright, was – let’s be frank – a complete slob. It hurt to go up there when I had to and see the squalor. It was sheer joy to clean and dust and wash and tidy. It’s now transformed, ready for the next tenant, who I hope will understand the word ‘clean.’ The word ‘recycle.’ 
It’s an interesting life. 



4 Responses to “arguing wth love”

  1. theresa says:

    An interesting life for sure, Beth. I had a little memory flight as you were describing the basketball lessons. My younger son used to shoot baskets for hours behind our house — his hoop was mounted on a big fir tree and the ground underneath was anything but level. Sometimes I'd go out and join him for a bit and let's just say I was not much good at it. I don't think the hoop is even there any more but when the grandsons visit in a few weeks, we'll rig something up. And yes, buy the snack food for after!

  2. beth says:

    What a brilliant game it is, Theresa – a pair of arms, a hoop of some kind, a ball= countless hours of exertion and fun. Love the image of your son's hoop attached to a fir tree. We used to have a hoop at the end of the yard here, much used by my son too and his friends, and much disliked by the neighbours. One day I discovered that it was gone – had been removed. But by then the players had gone too. Suggestion for snack food: Cheetos. Probably radioactive but good.

  3. theresa says:

    It is a terrific game! I loved being one of the drivers when our B. was on the high school team. Loved watching them play, the intelligence of the game, the strategies. Will buy Cheetos. Thanks for the tip!

  4. beth says:

    Not to mention ice cream with crushed up Oreos and milk, mooshed into soup.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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