The Stickler

Stickler gets Bopped

Stickler lost interest‘He hit me.’ Trembling lips and misty eyes bestow the hurt bloodhound look, complete with agonized droopy face. So, what’s a grandad to do? I share a hug. deliver a gentle and soothing circular back rub. I stay quiet.

Next there’s a deep sigh from the ‘victim’ as he squeezes in, comforted.

‘I though I heard threatening noises from your brother.’

‘He always hits me.’ My sweater muffles his voice.

‘I though I heard him ask you to stop a few times.’

‘He’s a bully. It was my turn.’

‘I thought you were playing with the stickle bricks.’

They’re boring.’

‘So you wanted the dominos.’

‘It was my turn.’

‘Says who?’

Stop being unfair.’

‘Who should I be fair to?’

He looks at me. The set of his face changes. He tries a droopy-shouldered sulk, mouth pendulous with powerless pain, eyes glazed with the internal agonies of withdrawal.

I bump his shoulder. ‘You’ve forgotten, haven’t you.’

‘Forgotten what?’

‘I don’t do sulks.’

His eyes clear in an instant. His sheepish grin gets a return smile. ‘You always make me smile.’

‘Better than looking foolish.’

His big brother walks in. ‘He’s a pain. I made a great chain with the dominos and he kicked them over.

‘So you bopped him.’

‘Not too hard.’ Eyebrows beetle. Jaws ripple.

No point in moralising. I finger point in turn. ‘You got him mad. He bopped you. You came running to me. You’re looking a bit guilty. I’m trying to get some food ready. What are we going to do.? Or … don’t you want to be fed?’

Big brother studies me. ‘I’m hungry.’

Wee brother pipes up. ‘Me too.’

‘Pasta and meat balls.’ I like their anticipatory smiles. ‘ What a-r-e we going to do?’

‘Set the table?’

‘Excellent. Do that in fifteen minutes, I’ll really appreciate it.’ There’s pleasure in their eyes, love even. ‘Now, what are you going to do while I finish the meal?’

‘Play together?’ The big guy’s got it.

‘Okay.’ The wee man smiles. They turn and dash out.

They knew what works all along … Don’t we all.

Mac Logan

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