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Friday, January 1, 2016

A Perfectly Wretched Family's Year-In-Review

This pretty much sums up the year.

Little Girl turns seven! And Father rediscovers his passion for Weird Al Yankovic. In his own endearingly obsessive manner, Father plays one Weird Al video after another, day after day after day. Mother laughs a little less at each successive parody. Her longsuffering smile wanes. She entreats Father to stop. “You’ve just got to hear this one!” he exclaims. Again.
On the eighth day of Weird Al, Mother snaps during dinner prep. She wields iron cookware over her head. “I swear, Father! If you play one more Weird Al song I will bludgeon you with this skillet, drag your lifeless corpse to the back yard, and roll you down the hill into the woods to be scavenged by coyotes!”
Father blinks at Mother. Looks down at the computer screen. Glances back at Mother. Clicks a key. “Just one more. This song’s awesome.” Hopefully the life insurance money will cover the outstanding principal on the mortgage.
Mother discovers that coffee may occupy an inappropriately cherished station in her life. She checks the weather online and gets a giddy little charge of glee when she sees, “Ice Latte”. Huh?  She looks at it again. No, it actually reads, “Ice Late”. Darn.
March 1: I love you, Mom! March 2: I hate you, Mom! March 3: Thanks for taking us skiing! March 4: You never let us do anything! March 5: How do you spell “imbroglio”? March 6: You never help me with anything! . March 12: I am never leaving home. March 13: I can’t wait to get out of here and never come back! . March 19: You’re the best cook ever, Mom!” March 20: What is this? Gross! March 21: Did I tell you we’re having a class party today? I’m supposed to bring cookies. Homemade. . March 29: I have to wear all black for the band concert tonight. Shoes, too. March 30: Man, what a rough week. I wish I could just sit at home all day like you, Mom. March 31: Dad, why is Mom in such a bad mood all the time?
In a fit of pique, Little Girl wails a superlative to signify her opinion about her mother, then storms upstairs. When she returns in a calmer state, Mother speaks with her. “Little Girl, you said something very unkind to me. Do you remember what it was?” Little Girl shakes her head in denial. “You said that I’m the meanest mommy in the world. Is that true?” Mother asks. Little Girl shakes her head again, and replies, “I didn’t say you’re the meanest mommy in the world. I said you’re the worst mommy in the world.” Well. Thanks for clarifying that.
After a camping trip with the Boy Scouts Son drops an item of clothing on the way in the door. No one notices it till Monday, when Little Girl discovers the offending article on her way to school. “Ew!” she shrieks. “Why is Son’s underwear on top of my sneakers?!?” Mother sighs. “Just get your shoes and put them on.” Little Girl screams again. “Gross! Son’s underwear is gross!!!” Son counters, “No they’re not! They’re not even dirty! I only wore them once!”
And apparently, if you haven’t taken them off for a week, you’ve still only worn them once.
Mother suffers a morning of middle-aged-woman hormonal psychosis and decides to take a chill pill before the kids arrive home, and the afternoon chauffeuring begins, and she has to host a dinner party in the evening. But Mother can’t find the bottle. It’s nowhere to be found. She panics. “God, I might actually murder somebody if I don’t get some chemical help RIGHT NOW!” Then she remembers the pill case that’s in her purse. Inside she finds one little blue pill amongst the brown ibuprofens and white acetaminophens. Mother pops it in her mouth and gulps it down the hatch.
Hang on a sec, she thinks. Blue? I don’t think they’re supposed to be blue. She investigates. Then she shrieks. “I took an entire Ibuprofen PM!” At noon. Half of one of those sledgehammers knocks Mother out all night long and a significant part of the next day. “I have to drive! I have to cook! I have to host a party! How do you make yourself vomit?!? Why wasn’t I ever bulimic?!?”
Mother spends the rest of the day stoned, skims the curb twice with the minivan’s Goodyears, and may have agreed to let kids the skip the last two weeks of school to tour with Toby Mac’s roadie bus.
Daughter turns ten! And Summer 2015 becomes Son’s Summer of Cooking. Light on activities for the extended school break, he agrees to join his mom in weekly meal planning, grocery shopping, and nightly dinner prep. On the first day of his chef training, he mopes into the room and says to his mother, “Can we start tomorrow instead? I don’t feel like cooking tonight.” Mother bursts into a side-splitting bout of belly guffaws. “Welcome to my world, son!” she exclaims. “I feel like that every single freaking night.” Her smile dissolves. “Now get in the kitchen.”
When the man of the house works in the field of national defense, dinner discussion frequently turns to military matters. Daughter considers the subject of bombs and their tragic aftermath. One aspect of the issue strikes her as particularly unfair. “Why,” she asks, “does Ground Zero get bombed so much?”
Son turns twelve! Just one more year till the Keffler house becomes infested with a teenager.
Upon opening a new package of coffee Mother checks out the description on the label: "Rich and balanced with crisp citrus notes and a sweet, chocolaty mouthfeel." She may have spent too much time writing romantic stuff recently, because that sounds to her like a better description of a really nice kiss than of roasted beans.
Last fall, when Daughter was in fourth grade, she was invited to join the elementary school’s chorus. She came home furious after the first rehearsal and announced that she had quit. “All they did the whole time was SING!” she fumed indignantly. Mother indicated that such is typically the practice of a chorus. “Well, I hate singing,” Daughter responded. This year Daughter is again invited to participate in chorus. She asks her mother’s permission. “But you hate singing,” Mother reminds her. “You quit last year because you didn’t want to sing.” Daughter smiles at her mother. “This year we have a new director,” she explains. “And he told me I can lip-sync.”
Father takes Son and Daughter to a concert, so Mother and Little Girl have a Mom-Daughter date night. They go to Chipotle for dinner, at Little Girl’s request. Mother anticipates a fun and light evening together with her littlest. Then Little Girl asks about the origins of life—specifically, where babies come from. Mother obliges her with The Talk. Eyes wide with horror, Little Girl asserts that she will never, ever marry, because she wants no part of that. Ever. Hopeful that she will one day procure some grandchildren, Mother really sells it to Little Girl: “Don’t worry, honey. It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Father hears about the discussion. “‘Not as bad as it sounds’?” he asks. “That’s how you describe it? ‘Not as bad as it sounds’?!?”
As always, the best kid-discussions happen while driving in a car together. This month, Daughter explains to Little Girl in the back of the van that while Daughter never thought she wanted pierced ears, when she turned ten she decided to get them pierced after all. Mother interjects, “Yes. People sometimes change their minds.” And, still recovering from last months’ The-Talk with Little Girl, Mother continues, “I’m hoping that you girls will change your minds about having babies when you grow up, because I’d like to be a grandma someday.” Both girls re-affirm that they will never have babies, because having babies hurts, and it will be up to their brother to provide grandchildren. Daughter further expounds to her little sister, “That’s why when I get married I’m going to have a separate bed from my husband, because when you sleep in the same bed you end up with a lot of kids. That’s just how it is. It can’t be helped.”
* * *
On that scandalous, PG-13 bombshell our family wishes you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
(And if 15 or 20 years from now Daughter’s husband is reading this blast-from-the-past, we hope she changed her mind about the separate-bed thing. If not, we’ll get you an electric blanket and the name of a good adoption agency for Christmas this year.)

 Later this month this Year-In-Review will be added to the e-book Year-In-Review: the Entirely True Histories of a Perfectly Wretched Family, available at Smashwords and Amazon. Please select the 2015 edition.

1 comment:

  1. Wish more Christmas letters sounded like this one. Love it all, esp. the girls' opinions on having babies. Daughter nailed it: there's something about those double beds that bring on babies.