Saturday, April 2, 2022

Life Is Hard

On my granddaughter’s last night visiting, she was lying on the floor while I cleaned the kitchen and said, “Pop-pop, why is life so hard?” Without missing a beat, I quoted Ramakrishna: “To thicken the plot.” Then added, “When life is hard, it’s calling on us to be stronger and to dig deeper for our happiness.” Someone else came into the room and that was the end of our exchange.


The next day, I felt abashed that I had gone right to trying to answer her question, putting on my teacher hat and my fix-it coveralls instead of the obvious more proper response: “Why do you ask? What feels hard for you right now?” And then just listen. 


During the week, I imagined all the things that she might be thinking of. We had just seen the Oscars, so maybe she was reacting to the now infamous slap. Or perhaps she was thinking about all the suffering in Ukraine or what lies ahead for her as a mixed-race child or simply the confusion of hitting puberty at 10-years old with the hormones starting to invade the body. Plenty of choices.


So when we had our weekly Portland-SF phone call this morning, I apologized for not asking her what was on her mind and asked if she could tell me now. She thought about it for a minute and then revealed the truth:


I just don’t like to brush my teeth at night. 


PS For the record, I sympathize. I tend to turn toward the bedroom when I’m tired and brushing my teeth always feels like another hurdle in the day that I don’t feel like leaping over at that moment. (But I always do. Dental floss, too!) 

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