The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Grammy’s Toys


Gray winter weekends suck. But still I prayed like everyone else for Fridays to put an end to school and work even though neither was that bad. And for years Fridays didn’t end my work week, and I complained about that. Then weekends brought the things you lived for.

I’ve changed and the world has. Saturday and Sunday? The world doesn’t stop in unison for rest and play. The day of the week doesn’t change my late-into-the-night bedtime. I do as little on Wednesday as I do on Saturday. The days roll one into another distinguished only by appointments and obligations. It’s just that weekends we are sometimes together all day. Too much togetherness.

I’m not anti-social or a recluse. It’s just an ache to have more than a room of my own. It’s an ache to have the space of a house and a feeling of solitude. A somewhat vague need that was finagled away and maybe that intensifies the ache. But I’m not grandma lying in a bed in  a nursing home pleading “I just want to go home” until I couldn’t stand to hear it one more time. I left my mother to listen.  Nearing her age has brought understanding and fear of helplessness in losing self-determination. She’s not me yet. On the sweet side, grandma went home to die in her dark green house at 138 North Ninth Street in Indiana. Even then I appreciated her ending surrounded by the familiar of her life.

Caleb was an absolute pain in the ass on Sunday. Though he began the day joyous and playful, he became demanding and contrary and obstinate. He sat on the floor screaming as he slid on his butt towards the hall and his mother when I told him to pick up his toys. His mother complained, “You’re a monster today.” He refused to dress to go out with us to a new restaurant in East Liberty. He whined, “I no wanna’ eat.” She got him dressed over protests and squirming and rolling. And his laughing as if this were a game. She put on his shoes. He took them off. We are fighting for control trying to reach compromises and harmony. His mother gave up. Gave in and told me to just go. I did. Not to the restaurant. I took a Sunday drive. The Sunday drive of childhood. The drive that might take our family to Monty’s in West Kittanning—home to a ham barbecue never equaled to memory. My Sunday drive took me to Arby’s. When I got back to the apartment, Caleb was an absolute angel. He was sleeping. Worn by conflict.

While still angelic, his mother left for a meeting. He awoke angry as he looked for her. I had the answer to sooth the monster. My cardboard box of toys. Magical. These small toys stay in my room lest they become ordinary. There’s a big yellow marble and a fidget spinner and large tie-dyed plastic jacks and a wooden Jacob’s ladder. Plastic squishy balls stick to the wall and then slide. Colorful connected blocks twist and turn into shapes. A shrill bone whistle from Serpent Mound and plastic lips that whirled and whirred like fans. Silly putty pulled into thin brittle pieces that stuck to his socks. He entertained himself until her return. He asked for and gave a hug. He showed her the robot he made from twisting blocks. He became a monster again. Refused pajamas. Cried screaming “I no wanna’ go to bed.” I shut my door and his screams soon stopped.

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