This morning, a lazy morning. Blueberry pancakes at 10, sunshine warms us while they slide down.
On my midmorning I’ve-had-four-cups-of-coffee trip to the bathroom, I find the seat down and spattered with pee. I don’t know whether it’s my five year old in a hurry, or my 83 year old dad who can’t see well enough to know if the seat is up or down. A third possibility is the dog, who prefers the toilet to the fresh water in her designer bowl on the kitchen floor.
I promise myself I will remember to leave the seat up. No sense getting all worked up about it if you can’t pinpoint the culprit. All would deny responsibility, and blueberry pancake Sunday mornings are no time to go on a warlock hunt.
At noon, we have a neighborhood squirt gun fight. It starts out as just a challenge to Billy, our neighbor. While Ben and I are getting ready, loading our arsenal and, of course, taking shots at one another, our upstairs neighbor asks if she and her daughter could join the fight. Then comes Billy and his mom. Then we are joined by new neighbors, tentative at first, but they reveal a killer instinct and fine marksmanship. Mutah and Tina are the team to watch. Once we are all thoroughly soaked an weak from laughing, we decide to adjourn to the pool, where we continue the fight with lots of ammo all around us.
My dad disapproves of the gun pay. I did too for a year, until I gave into my son’s endless gun noises, figuring forbidden fruit becomes far more attractive. Water guns are, honestly, just plain fun. Dad had wanted to go for a bike ride, and was pouting and was going to go by himself. When we came back from the pool, he was just getting ready, so we got clothes on and went with him.
He is so crabby. Within a quarter mile of home, he had already yelled at Ben, and I decided it was too nice a day to referee a constant fight. I asked my Dad to take the lead, explaining that once we got to the top of Barton Dr., he should look for the bike path that leads along the river. From there we can ride across town on the path. It’s a great ride, which leads across the river over a dam. We could loop back home by the train station, maybe in time to see the Amtrak arrive.
My Dad, in a snit, takes off, and we don’t see him again for a while. Ben and I get to the park, and we can’t find him. We ride along, then we back track to the main road. I ask a couple of cyclists if they have seen him. A brief panic sets in as I think maybe he rode up the ramp to the interstate, then I think that can’t be. We retrace our path, and it begins to pour. Ben and I take shelter under a bridge, then head back out to the main road again, just in time to see my father come along and wipe out on the road, literally bouncing on the shoulder.
Ben and I quickly ride to him, in spite of him yelling “Get away, I’m alright,” and I help him up. His elbow is badly gouged, his legs covered with road grit, but he seems ok. I help him back across the road and onto the bike path. “I’ve been looking for the path, let’s get off the road, it's not safe here,” he snaps.
I say, as gently as I can, “Dad we are on the path. We’re safe.”
When we get home, I draw a hot bath for him and bring him a grilled cheese sandwich, tubside. Ben and I eat at the table. I try to explain to Ben why Grandpa is crabby, and how it might be easier if we both just try not to argue with him. That it is hard to get older and not be able to do the things he used to be able to do. Ben argues that Grandpa was not safe riding on the road and should have been on the sidewalk with us. I agree with him, but say that Grandpa is an adult and I can’t be the boss of him. Ben gets that part.
Ben picks up a blueberry and says, in a funny little voice, “Hi, Benjamin, I'm a blueberry. Want to play?”
“No,” he answers, “I want to eat you!” He does. Life is good, if you're not a blueberry.
Ben takes a corner in the July 4th Bike Parade