Popping My Joint

autumn, New England, family, granddaughterI picked her up in the late afternoon.

I was tired and just wanted to go for a walk, start dinner, open a bottle of wine, relax – finally. But my daughter had called me in a panic earlier in the day: “Can you pick up Sophie from Russian math later today? I overbooked with the two boys.”

Being a woman who always wants to be a “good mom” and an even better grandmother, I said yes even before I asked “where?”

“Wellesley,” daughter answered in a voice seeped with guilt.

“Wellesley?” I groaned. Driving is not my favorite activity, particularly during commute time.

But I drove the back way, through Sudbury and Wayland and Weston onto Wellesley and found Washington Street and sat in the parking lot. My heart calmed as I listened to the soothing sounds of classical music. music for grandchildren

Once when I drove my grandkids to some event – school concert? soccer match? – I changed my normal station to some clever pop music, thinking my grandkids would think me cool. The 7-year-old boy chimed in with disappointment, “I thought you listened to Beethoven, Madre.”

So much for being cool.

Five minutes into my reverie and a Bach prelude, 11-year-old Sophie bounced into the car.

“I’m exhausted, Madre,” she sighed. “Sixth grade is so different from fifth. We had a history test and it was…” she paused. “Can you pop your joint?”

“Umm,” I began, battling traffic as I followed my GPS directions.

I heard the cracking/crunching of Sophie’s ankle joint as she moved it back and forth. I tried to pop my left ankle as my right foot touched the brake. “Not sure this is a good idea for us, Soph,” I said as I made a right turn to avoid more traffic.

“Why? Will I get arthritis?” she asked. She brought out her cell phone and pressed buttons. “I’ll look it up.” New England fall, driving with the sun

But then she looked up, out at the red and orange-leaved trees, the dusky pink-lavender sky and commented: “I love going home this way. You’re the best, Madre.”

If a smile is a joint, mine popped wide open.


(The Russian School of Mathematics is an after school program that provides advanced mathematics education for children attending K–12 schools.)

105 thoughts on “Popping My Joint

    • I always wish I had a small notebook next to me when I’m driving in the car with grandkids. The wisest/funniest/most delicious words come out. But I store the bon mots in my head – don’t want them to see me recording their every word. ;-0 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was even going to call it just ‘math tutoring,’ but Russian math (and I don’t know the origination of the name) is an opportunity for GIRLS to keep apace (and further) with boys on math. Wish I’d had it when I was a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I used to love those conversations in the car with my daughters. How wonderful that you share these special times–and do that driving!
    (I laughed because I got my older daughter hooked on a podcast that discusses all the ghosts and demons in Wellesley. So watch out!) 🙂
    Thank you for the explanation of “Russian math.”

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  2. I agree with the others that you are a cool grandma but I sort of already suspected that 🙂 Molly Finds Her Purr was delivered to my door yesterday! I love it! Very sweet book… I love dragonflies. Molly made me smile. Very sweet lessons learned in Molly finding her purr. The illustrations are sweet, too. Birds of Paradise on the way!

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    • I’m so excited (and happy) that you’ve received MOLLY FINDS HER PURR and love her story . . . as well as the dragonflies on every page. If you are so inclined, I’d be grateful if you wrote a short review on Molly’s Amazon page. We authors need those reviews so others will find the book.
      Now, can’t wait to hear what you think of Bert and Bessie in BIRDS OF PARADISE!

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  3. Dear cool Madre, I too know the pleasures of helping out with car pool: school, cross country practices, tuba rehearsal. Our grands are seldom chatty and cracking knuckles might happen, but not ankles.

    As I tap out these words, I’m exulting to your Ode to Joy. Whatever generation walks in my car door may hear Mozart (or shriek-y Stravinisky) from me, low volume of course. Thanks for this and for the fascinating Molly Finds Her Purr I enjoyed this week. 😀

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    • I’m afraid the older the grandkids get, the quieter they become, so I’ll enjoy the chattiness as long as I can. Same with the cracking (jokes/knuckles/sibling’s heads – haha).
      Here’s to our own ode to joy. And I’m so glad you’re enjoying MOLLY FINDS HER PURR! If you have a chance to review it on Molly’s Amazon page, I would be grateful. xo

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    • Thank you so much, Sue. I try to live by the theme of “Ode to Joy,” which I always hear in my head. (I know you live within this joy too.) Life is a constant hum, but we should realize there is a lot of meaningful crescendo in there too. ❤

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    • The things we do for our kids/grandkids are never as great as the things our kids/grandkids do for us!
      By the way, THANK YOU for your magnificent review of MOLLY FINDS HER PURR on Molly’s Amazon page. Yes, finding our purr is the same as finding our “inner spark.” ❤

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  4. What a great share, Madre (I love that you are called this instead of Grandma). Perfect choice of music to showcase your joy at choosing the pretty route home with the good music and joint-popping child. Russian math, eh? I’m afraid to even ask what that looks like!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s not about the destination, but the pretty route during the journey, right Dale? 🙂 You missed the explanation of Russian math under Beethoven. Here it is: (The Russian School of Mathematics is an after school program that provides advanced mathematics education for children attending K–12 schools.) It’s a great “equal opportunity” for girls to excel in math along with the boys. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely! In my book, anyway .
        No, I didn’t miss the explanation, I was just saying I’m wondering what this math looks like because you know how math evolves… It’s all Chinese to me now. ..😉

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  5. Pam, you are the coolest Madre by being just YOU! Nothing like the wisdom and love from the young to make life comple and full of joy! So happy you included this Beethoven piece, my favourite and this played for my wedding as I entered, walking down the grand staircase and into the room! Happy Weekend, my friend! May it be full of popping smiles! 😀❤️

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    • I LOVE reading that Ode to Joy was your wedding song. How did you walk down that grand staircase without crying? (Ode to Joy makes me cry from beginning to end.) Maybe you DID cry those happy tears, and glistened with the glow of love and fabulous choice of music. 🙂

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      • Dear Pam, in answer to your question about the staircase, I was in ultra-concentration mode not to FALL down the steps. As I rarely wear high heels I had visions of an impressive tumble and broken limbs – nothing like that to focus the mind!😀 Once down I did cry a bit … my husband was so stunned when he saw me he stood still like a statue and forgot to take my hand! A gentle nudge from his best man ‘woke’ him up!😀 Thank you for reminding me of these special memories and letting me share. xx❤️

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    • Glad to read that you’re with me in the whine of “do I HAVE to drive all that way?” With so much more traffic and so many more stressed drivers, it’s just no fun anymore. ;-( Here’s to staying in our writing chairs as often as possible. 🙂

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  6. I loved how this story took a plan, played with it and made it better in the end. Your reluctance to engage in crazy traffic resonates. Thanks for the explanation. I still wonder at the origination of the name for Russian Math. I had to repeat third grade almost twice because I couldn’t learn times tables. Numbers dance in my head so i avoid them if at all possible. Your daughter is a good mom for getting the math need met. You are a good Madre for helping her.

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    • I’ll take the adjective of “cool” in front of Madre for as long as possible, Another year or two, I’m afraid “cool” will change to a roll in the eyes and “oh, that Madre!” I bet you’re enjoying helping out with your kids and grand. xo

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  7. Love that story and I have been there also…wrong time of day or I already had something planned. When the call comes though, I also go. I realize how short my time will be with these boys. They are growing so fast now…and car conversations are the best conversations…

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  8. I get it on the good mom, an even better grandmother and a daughter in a voice seeped with guilt. On a weekly basis.

    I love the witty 7-year-old boy. Likely takes after his witty Grandmother, Pamela.🙂

    OMgosh, your last sentence made me smile and tear up, all at the same time. I get it.

    I love your posts, Pamela. You capture the moments that truly matter.🙂

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  9. My mind went somewhere else with the “pop a joint” comment, although for the life of me couldn’t imagine your young granddaughter saying that!! So nice “seeing you” if only for the breath of a story.

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