There are throngs of people at Granville Island, cascades of tourists in expensive sunglasses and inappropriate heels. There are pregnant Mamas pushing strollers and next generation hippies with deadlocked beards and guitars and so many people with stories, sifting through pomegranates and macaroons and handmade feather jewelry.
Nolan is 8, all limbs and perpetual questions and he has just endeavored to conduct a jump with his scooter over a mossy crack in the sidewalk.
“Mom, look,” he says just as Jude lets out a shriek from the stroller and I watch as his scooter flies into the air in slow mo and conducts a sickening, unstoppable journey on to the road beside us.
A car packed with Asian tourists grinds to a halt and the driver looks, bewildered, out the window, confused by the crunch.
“Nolan!” I shout and he says, “Sorry Mom, sorrysorrysorry” at the same time. My heart leaps into my uvula as it has for the millionth time since becoming a Mom, and I blow muted apologies to the Hyundai driver and cross the street with the scooter tucked firmly under my arm.
Corey pushes Jude ahead, Nolan walks slowly, stunned, and I hand him his scooter and tell him “No more jumps.”
Someone taps my shoulder from behind and I jump, guiltily suspecting that a tourist from a well-behaved country is going to give me shit for the scooter incident, or perhaps for the fact that my toddler is screaming bloody murder from his stroller for no apparent reason.
“You got a good one there.”
She’s not admonishing me, this tiny lady in the paisley purple blouse.
I look at her and look at my family, wandering ahead.
She’s in her 80’s for sure, possibly late 80’s, with paper-fine skin and brown-splotched veins on hands that remind me of eagle talons. She’s got snapping browngreen eyes and I lean into her a bit, because she wants to tell me something.
“You got a good one there, your man,” she repeats. “He’s a very handsome man.”
“Oh,” I say, stunned that I’m not being admonished for my unwieldy sons, “Thank you.”
I stand there a minute, not sure how to gracefully depart, and kind of wanting to know what else she has to say. I wonder if she will tell me that my boys will one day run an oyster bar, or that I have strange knees. I don’t get stopped by 86 year old women very often.
“He’s a nice looking man,” she repeated.
“Thank you,” I repeated. Not sure if that’s an appropriate response.
“Don’t tell him I said that,” she said.
“I won’t.” I say.
And then I amble up to my family, and whisper in my husband’s ear.