Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We are that Family

There are moments in your life when an outsider's view of you crystallizes in your mind's eye as if you were having an out-of-body experience.  You can see and think exactly as if you were someone else.  Those moments can bring a new perspective and appreciation for the things that you shoulder and complacently ignore in your everyday existence.  Worried about how much work you do?  The man in the corner searching the classifieds probably sees you as lucky for having a job.  Think your style is outdated?  That woman rubbing her hands together trying to keep them warm probably sees the old gloves on your hands as little slices of heaven.  Maybe you think you're having a bad hair day.  Donald Trump disagrees.  Well, actually, he probably doesn't.  Regardless, these times of looking in rather than looking out can be a great way to boost your gratitude and adjust your attitude.  Or, if you're me, they strike terror in your heart when you realize that you've become that family.

You know who I'm talking about.  THAT family.  The one that people kind of cautiously approach or steer clear of to avoid interaction.  Not because other people are mean-spirited or disrespectful, but because they genuinely fear for their safety and well-being.  The family that unravels any social situation and creates commotion and chaos just by entering the room.  That's us.  That's my family.  Fear not, nice people reading this; you are not that family.  You are not that family, because the Gallaghers beat you to the punch.  Don't believe me?  Let me give you two examples of our ultimate descent into depravity and bedlam.

Not too long ago, Little Man's school got the pleasure of being visited by the Zoomobile.  This wondrous event included (to quote the Little Man himself) "a slithery snake, a hoppy bunny who pooped - that was funny!, and a cute baby penguin."  As you can imagine, this warranted a bajillion questions and retellings of bunny poop on the way home from school.  Little Man and I commute together, so I got the pleasure of discussing the differences in appearance, texture, and smell of different animal excretions.  Who knew all those summers at the Illinois State Fair would pay off in such dividends?!  Upon returning home, Little Man immediately regaled his sister with his adventures from the day.  Sweet Girl was virtually nonplussed and barely broke stride while she scootered around the downstairs.  {Did I mention we allow her to scoot (what is the correct verbiage for this?) indoors?  Yeah, we do.  After I thought I'd never see her again I went a little of the deep end and allowed her to bring her scooter indoors to allow her to have the movement her central nervous system seems to demand while having the peace of mind my blood pressure demands.  See?  We are that family. }  When my darling husband made it home from work, Little Man again began his re-telling of the most auspicious of pre-school days.  However, he had become a little distracted by YouTube and needed some prompting.  So the conversation went a little something like this:

Barrel-Chested Freedom Fighter Husband:  "Hey! Little Man how was your day at school?"
Little Man:  "Good."
Sweet Girl takes an indoor scooter lap.
Me:  "What came to school today, buddy?  Tell Daddy what you saw."
Little Man:  "Oh.  We saw animals today."
Sweet Girl takes an indoor scooter lap.
BCFFH:  "What kind of animals were at school?"
Little Man:  "Oh.  A snake and a bunny.  It pooped.  Bunnies poop small stuff."
Sweet Girl takes an indoor scooter lap.
Me:  "And what else?"
Little Man:  "And a baby penguin!"
Sweet Girl takes an indoor scooter lap.
BCFFH hopped up on coffee and surviving the ridiculous traffic around here:  "A penguin?! No way!"
Me feigning incredulity in a vain attempt to separate Little Man from the attention tractor beam of the nefarious YouTube:  "Right?! A penguin!  Can you believe that?!"
Sweet Girl from across the room still on her scooter (naturally):  "A penguin? Are you f&$king kidding me?!"
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.
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Exhibit A: Potty Mouth
If our lives were pre-recorded and merely on playback, this would have been where the record scratched.  Complete silence, which NEVER happens here, for at least 3 whole, amazing, glorious seconds until I heard my husband's jaw hit the floor.  I said the quickest of mental thank yous to the god of refrigerator doors because that's what was separating my face of complete shock, incredulity, and concern with a sprinkle of bemusement from my daughter's expectant one; waiting on a reply from her extremely well-timed, perfectly enunciated, and wholly inappropriate (unbeknownst to her) remark.  Three more seconds for wit gathering before I informed my eight year-old with the mouth of a seasoned sailor, that it wasn't a nice word.  That she shouldn't say those kinds of words.  Sometimes Mommy and Daddy mess up and say them.  Sometimes the Redskins make Daddy yell those kinds of words, but they aren't nice to use and she shouldn't use them EVER.  I explain this to her and she replies: "But I thought 'kidding' IS nice to say!"  Consequently, I would like to first apologize to the parents of Sweet Girl's classmates.  This one's on us.  Sorry about that.  But this is what happens when you are that family.

As if that weren't enough to cement our status as Only-Kind-of-Parenting Parents of the Year, later that week we found ourselves at our favorite getaway destination; Toys R Us.  If you've seen my house you know, indeed, we are ALL the toys.  Molded plastics and dyed non-toxic putties seem to be the motivators that make school tolerable for my children.  So they have a reward system and it involves visiting the Greatest of All Retail Outlets.  They are never not excited to go to Toys R Us.  I am never not excited to leave there.  So my children and I share the same enthusiasm for the sliding doors, it's just that we happen to appreciate the opposite sides of the glass.

If anyone's selling, Little Man's buying.
During this particular visit, not too long after New Year's, we had looked at the My Little Ponies, the Barbies, the Inside Out merch, the LEGOs, the Octonauts, the Paw Patrol toys, and we had found them all wanting.  Ever onward we forged to find the perfect thing of the moment; some with more enthusiasm than others.  I lagged behind with my life's Ranger Buddy and we both did the adult thing, which was to look at our phones rather than to notice the small tell-tale signs of imminent parenting embarrassment all around us.  We should have noticed that the kids had gotten uncomfortably far ahead of us, leaving them ample time to amass a Nerf artillery and summarily blast us as we rounded the next corner.  We should have noticed that they had seemed unsatisfied with the usual fodder we had grown accustomed to carrying out of those beautiful sliding doors at the end of a shopping trip, and that this would mean they'd be looking at bigger and more dangerous items.  We should have noticed that it wasn't long after the holiday return cycle and that there were many toys in the aisles waiting for attention from Toys R Us employees who would restock these treasures for others to love, and that this would mean Sweet Girl and Little Man would have easier access to the weapon of their choice.  We should have noticed all of this, and so we shouldn't have been surprised when we saw Little Man waving at us as he reversed a gleaming black Cadillac Escalade down the aisle.  But we didn't.  So we were.

And while we both hurriedly rushed to the open area into which he had driven the motorized vehicle, Little Man continued to wave and reverse....right into a sign advertising registry services.  The Escalade balked momentarily, but Little Man was unfazed by this small deterrent - now wobbling and threatening to come crashing down either on him or the floor, both of which would have made a whole lot of noise - and continued to reverse his newly purloined steed.  As many parents know, a five year-old's determination can only be checked by sturdy inanimate objects.  Walls, for example: walls will work.  Or in this case, that sturdy inanimate object happened to come in the form of a seven-foot tall shelf of action figures which ran perpendicular to the starting point of the aforementioned get-in-the-way car.  With a substantial thunk, Little Man (ahem) parked his Escalade while I held my breath waiting for the shelf to commence raining action figures.  Little Man exited the vehicle whilst testily explaining to my husband that the car's reverse was broken and didn't drive correctly.  I looked up from righting the superheroes who happened to be collateral damage from our failure as parents to see a lovely woman peeking around the corner at the crime scene.  She was shaking her head and laughing.  That's when I knew that it was a laugh of relief, because she knew that no matter how crazy her family may be.....at least she's not that family.


Exhibit B:  All the trouble
Here's something else that I know.  I know that I would never want to be any other family.  This family, which happens to be that family, has its good qualities.  We love hard around here.  We have done great things in small ways.  We have done small things in great ways.  We hold on.  We struggle.  Sometimes we fail.  But we do that together.  And that makes it easier to get back up and struggle again.  We accidentally curse.  We commit Micro Theft Auto.  We laugh a lot.  We eat tacos.  We live life as a family; as that family.


2 comments:

  1. What comment? I have lots of thoughts, but who can think & laugh at the same time. I know your mother & dad are thinking, pay back is to funny & great too.
    Enjoy this wonderful time as a family cause it really goes by to fast when you
    get a chance to look back. love you all, your Auntie

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  2. I would be laughing, too, but not because we're not that family. We're totally that family. I laugh because we're not that family *this* time. And I feel sorry for those "perfect" families that don't have these awesome stories to look back on and laugh together. Later. Much, much later.

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