Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season's Beatings

Once, when Jack was much younger, we were grocery shopping, and he asked for a bag of Cheetos.  We agreed to buy it for him (because you know us, the ever-indulgent parents that we are) on the condition that he couldn’t plow into the bag until after he ate his dinner.  Agreement reached, we made the purchase and headed home.  Dinner that evening consisted of lime chicken, and Jack was being a trooper.  Normally a rather adventurous eater (still is), this night’s fare was presenting him with some challenges.  Between bites he would ask for his Cheetos, and we kept reminding him that he had to eat all of his dinner before getting his hands on the orange-food-stuff-cheese-flavored treat.  So, on he went with the task of choking down the lime chicken.  He plopped the last morsel into his mouth and swallowed it; no more than three seconds later, he puked it all back up.  We scrambled for towels to clean up the mess, when Jack looked up at us both from his high chair and asked, “Can I have my Cheetos now?”  Whether you view our yearly Christmas letter as the chicken, the Cheetos, or what came in between, we hope this little missive is just as memorable. 

One step closer to adulthood – the right to vote, registering for the draft, appearing on “Jerry Springer” without parental consent – Sam became a teenager this year.  This also means that we’re less than five years away from selling our house, buying a 1976 Winnebago, and touring North and South America to find the best places to take a nap.  The year started out with Sam making the volleyball team at his junior high school.  On the whole, the average volleyball “parent” is pretty calm and cool.  You get your occasional wingnut screaming instructions from the stands to his son that involve rocketing the ball into the opponent’s chest like a bunker-busting missile, but their ferocity is usually met with looks from the rest of us that could be interpreted either as “relax, dude, Nike’s not going to be here until next week to hand out sponsorship contracts” or “up the voltage on your shock therapy, please.”  In years past, we’ve been involved in other sports that have seen bleacher-clearing brawls between parents over who was responsible for snack and why it wasn’t peanut free.  Sam is also taking Latin this year so he can learn how to ask for directions to the bathroom in a dead language.  That should come in handy when his ever-so-alive bladder is full. 

While many may disagree and view this as one of the signs of the Apocalypse, we view this milestone as one step closer to our liberation from carpooling and errands: Jack turned 16 and obtained his driver’s license.  Gone are the days of our having to ferry the boys to and fro (the “to” wasn’t half as bad as the “fro” – “fro” always seems to take place late at night when we’re in our pajamas and lying in bed reading; and by “late”, I mean after 7:00 p.m.).  Now, Jack gets to do that – and quite often he does it with a spring in his step because it means we put gas in the truck he drives.  One night this past summer, Erin and I were in bed reading (I’m sure I was reading something profound like “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan or “Not Taco Bell Material” by Adam Carolla) when Erin jumped up, panicking, looked at the clock and said, “Oh my gosh, it’s almost 11:00 o’clock.  We need to pick up Sam from (insert overly creative boy name that either sounds like a medieval land baron or a color from a J. Crew catalog)’s house.”  Without losing my place in the book I was reading, I calmly replied, “No, we don’t.  That’s why we had Jack – he can go pick up Sam.”  Then Erin asked, “Is that the ONLY reason?”  Looking thoughtfully up at the ceiling as if I were weighing the many merits of our eldest son – much the same way an art lover would gaze before a great collection of The Masters – and said, “Yep.  THAT’s the reason we had him.”  As is the case with both of our sons, the fact they’re doing well in school, they’re not on drugs, and they don’t have a criminal record is gravy. 

Over this past year, I’ve repaired more leaks in our sprinkler lines than the busiest urologist in the state of Arizona.  When I’m not doing that, I’m still visiting exotic locales like Lubbock, TX, and Toledo, OH – livin’ the dream!  Erin continues her Masters program in Waste Management – her current course load is pretty rigorous: Toilet Paper Yard Clean-Up 352 – “Use a Shotgun Next Time The Punks Come Around”; Navigating The Boys’ Bedroom 419 – “There Really is Carpet Under There”; and Dish Washing Elementals 298 – “What Does and Does NOT Go in a Garbage Disposal”. Come visit us anytime.  We won’t make you stay in the boys’ room.  Have a great year!