DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I’m an active grandfather, who has an absolute blast playing pickleball. I’ve always been competitive, and for decades after I "injured out" of hockey and baseball, I was miserable. After discovering pickleball, it was like I came back to life. It’s competitive and relatively low-impact, and recently I started teaching my grandson to play. He loves it!
I could not be more thrilled, but his parents are not pleased. They say they want him to focus his energy on a sport where he could "go somewhere." I think there’s more to it than that.
They don’t respect pickleball as a sport. I constantly have to deal with them belittling it as an "old-person sport." While it’s true the community is mostly older people, that doesn’t invalidate pickleball as a sport. The community is incredibly accepting, and they’re willing to play anybody, of any age.
I just want to add that the boy’s dad — my only son — avoids playing pickleball with me. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My son is very competitive and we both know I’d beat him at this sport! Then he’d have to admit it’s more than just a game for old people. How can I fix this?
— Grandpa in a Pickle, Transcona
Dear Grandpa: First, let’s look at the underlying competition for the adoration of this young boy. Maybe your son is rude about the sport because he’s worried about losing some of his son’s time and enthusiasm to Grandpa. The sport you and your grandson share is fun, with a feeling of freedom and not much overzealous pressure to excel. With his dad, there’s hopes that he’ll become a pro at a "serious" sport.
So, back out of the verbal sparring. It’d help if you just enjoyed pickleball with your grandson and stopped trying to prove it’s a great sport to his dad. Drop that whole discussion and say, if goaded, "Well it’s good fun and I enjoy it." You aren’t going to make a pickleball convert out of your son, so don’t even try to get him on board. You really don’t want him encroaching on your special times with the little fellow, do you?
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My ridiculous ex-wife and I can’t agree on what age is appropriate for a kid to get a smartphone. She seems to think eight is reasonable for our daughter. I have primary custody.
She still plays with dolls and doesn’t need to have a smartphone or any phone! It just feels so inappropriate.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it feels like it’d rob her of her innocence. Childhood should be free and fun, without having to keep answering a phone or being responsible for losing an expensive device. Not to mention what she could get into on the internet.
My little girl and my ex both argue that other kids in her class have phones. My daughter says, "It’s not fair. You’re just being mean!" My child is only eight. I’m not even sure what age is appropriate, but it can’t be that young. What do you think?
— Worried Dad, St. James
Dear Worried Dad: An eight-year-old child would be in the second or third grade. Children of that age should be using the school for communications between them and their parents when they’re in school. It makes sense to let your little girl continue being a child, without worrying about answering calls or texts from her mom, you or her friends.
Most kids don’t start asking for their own phones until grades 5 or 6, which some would argue is still too young. As for fancy smartphones that open a child up to the wider world of the internet, your little one certainly doesn’t need that. It makes sense to say to her: "No, not yet. Ask me again when you’re a bit older." That’s not too harsh, but it makes the point.
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