Act One, Enter Giggling

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“Hairbrush Mom!”

Natasha, sweet 16 this month, is trying to get rid of knots before she leaves for school, but her mom won’t lend her brush.

“Use your own!”

“But mine’s not working properly. The bristles are worn.”

Thirty seconds of dead silence. I check the phone’s volume, thinking I’ve caused the pause.

“I came to you for sympathy but I see I’m not getting any!” My eldest granddaughter gently scolds on her way out of my daughter’s bedroom. (Exit hurriedly)

“There’s a comb on the floor in my bathroom,” my daughter shouts.

They moved away in the summer. A career opportunity for Dad. I’ve gone from spending time with them every few days to intruding on their antics as they get ready for school each day. It’s a fair trade I guess. Their mom calls me upon waking and they fly, traipse, bounce and barge into her room.

(Exit, Far Right) Dad goes downstairs to start the porridge. Dashiell yells “Bonjour Grandma” as his eyes dart about the room, looking, my daughter tells me, for electronic devices that were confiscated the evening prior. Chess club after school today; he always wins, even against the teacher. But his clothes are on inside out and backwards today, just like most of the time.

Fraser, the youngest, (Enter to Centre Stage, bouncing) comes in to ask for a drive to school.

“It’s Dad’s turn and anyway, it’s w-a-aay too early! And you need to brush your teeth and…do you even have underwear on? Close my door!”

Five grandchildren, aged 18 down through six, in three schools. Two bus stops. None of them have cottoned onto the concept of matching socks. Some pack balanced lunches. Nine-year-old Dash eats three full sandwiches before recess and leaves wrappings around his desk. Gabe is in his final year and when off duty from Student Council, appears to live in his “office” under the stairs.

“Jac walk the dogs! Feed the birds! Rabbit! Guinea pig! Cat! And what time is your game?” The other cat didn’t come home. Gabe flies by. “Have a good day Gabe!”

“Thanks Mum!” (Exit, laughing)

They all shout at each other. I brought that up once and daughter told me the volume’s absolutely necessary. It’s like listening to an old-fashioned radio play. Then all of a sudden there’s a lull and my daughter launches into whatever topic comes to mind. She touches on the news, injustices. She relates the events of the day before, laments on the weather and brings me up-to-date on the kids’ grades.

Saturday morning daughter stays in bed even longer and chats with me while awaiting her waffles. Ditto Sunday. It’s taking a awhile. “Fraser, what’s Dad doing? Oh here comes my orange juice. My fork’s dropped, somebody.” Munching noises. “Go and ask Dad to help you and close my door. Sorry. Mum what were you saying? It’s like Grand Central Station in here. Out! I finished knitting the baby sweater and sent it off. I said out you little monkey! (Exit doing cartwheels) Did you say something Mom?”

As soon as the Coquihalla is passable, I’ll be flying along the highway to get up there. For now, packages fly up with books and magazines and must-reads from Tanners, cushioned with balls of yarn and knitted scarves. And then there are the phone calls back and forth several times a day. There is always catching up to do and my daughter’s beyond proficient at multitasking.

Son #1 just moved away in the other direction to live/ski in Whistler, work in Vancouver. They’ve finished the adoption course and are awaiting home visitations. They tell me a baby is on the way. (Enter screaming) I’ll be ready for Act One, Scene One, maybe even graduating to Skype this time around.

Elizabeth Olson
Elizabeth Olson
Elizabeth Olson recently retired from Galiano Island Books and spends a lot of time these days in bookstores in Sidney. Her own grandfather was a pirate who spent his retirement searching for Inca gold on Cocos Island.

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