Some family funnies from over the weekend:
Anne was getting ready to go jogging early Saturday morning, and I asked her if I could tag along.
"I think I'm going to go kind of far today," she said, "so if you don't mind the extra distance, you can come."
"How far are you going to run?" I said.
"Well," she said, "first, I'm going to go 500 miles . . . then I'll go 500 more . . ."
"That's how far you're going to walk," I said. "How far are you going to run?
She looked at me for a moment, smiled, and
hollered proclaimed, "DA DA DA DAAAA! DA DA DA DAAAA!!! DADADADADUMDADADUMDADADUMDADAAAAA"
Later that day, Anne and I took the kids out to my brother's for a surprise birthday dinner my dad had put together for my mom.
When we were about a mile from his house, a guy pulled up next to us at a red light in a really obnoxious truck. It was incredibly loud, and due to modification of its suspension and some ridiculously huge tires, was easily two and a half times taller than my car.
Just to make sure we saw him, I guess, he gunned his engine. It shook my car, and was very unpleasant.
"Wow," Nolan said, "someone is compensating for something."
"Yeah," Ryan said, "he can't satisfy his wife, but he sure can satisfy the road."
From time to time, I forget that my kids are teenagers (Ryan will be 18 in a few months) and that they've picked up my sense of humor over the last decade or so. When they do things like this, it's like a bucket of cold water over my head (though, in my mind, it's actually Gatorade. Stepparents of the world FTW!!1)
Before dinner, I played Guitar Hero II with my dad. Oh man. I can't even recreate the experience, but it was awesome watching my ultraconservative dad rock out to Shout at the Devil, complete with throwing the goat.
After dinner, we played Apples to Apples. I play this game all the time with Anne and the kids, but it was the first time my parents and siblings had played. They grokked the game instantly, and it got silly, then wacky, and quickly settled into zany.
The green card was "awkward," and Ryan was the judge. All the cards were thrown into the middle, and while Ryan gathered them up:
"Man, I wish I had teenagers!" Nolan said.
"More like angry hornets," Anne said.
"How about 'The Talk,'" My mom said.
"EWW! MOM! GROSS!" My brother, sister and I all shouted in unison.
Ryan started flipping over cards, and eventually got it down to Helen Keller and T-Rex (the dinosaur, not the band.)
"I think you have to pick T-Rex," my brother said.
"Why?" Ryan said.
My brother assumed an academic tone and posture. I could see the tweed jacket and pipe as he spoke in an affected Ivy League voice. "Because the T-Rex, better known as the Awkwardsaurus --"
Maybe it's not as funny to read it in a blog, but it was one of the funniest things I've ever heard while playing the game, which is saying something because I've played it hundreds of times.
"He's right," Ryan said. "T-Rex wins."
"But Helen Keller!" I said, and made some motions that were in such bad taste, that's all I'm going to say about them.
"YES!" Jeremy pumped his fist, threw his imaginary pipe into an imaginary fireplace, and grabbed the green card.
"I win! One to nothin'!"
Yes, we were all winners, but in a more accurate sense, the winner was my dad, despite my sister's efforts to throw two or three cards into the middle for several rounds before she got caught by me ("Wait a minute. There are not twelve people in this game.")
It was a great weekend, and all the things we did together reminded me how I've really hit the cosmic lottery with my family.
For the last several months, I've worked longer hours on harder work than ever before, and it's been all too easy to become overwhelmed by responsibility and exhaustion (creative and otherwise) and take everyone in my family (those people I'm working so hard to support) for granted. When I realized this last week, I started giving myself permission -- since upgraded to a directive -- to take time off every afternoon and play Frisbee with the kids or take a jog with my wife, or just do something to enjoy and strengthen the bonds that make this family, well, my family.
Though we had a great time this weekend, there was a bit of sadness lingering beneath the surface for me. My mom turned 29 again on Friday (I'm not sure how she does this, especially since my brother and I have both passed her, but my dad assures me it would be best not to investigate it too thoroughly.) This year was the first time in my life I thought about how my parents really are getting older, which means that I'm getting older, and it was the first time I've ever thought that -- especially after they all move up to Montana and Ryan goes to college -- I'm not going to have weekends like these with my family as often as I'd like.
It was a timely reminder to balance the responsibility of working with enjoying the people who make the work worthwhile . . .
I'd examine this more deeply, but I just realized that my wife has been waiting for an hour for me to finish writing, so we can walk our dogs.