|Story Parenting adolescents|
Last night at dinner, my husband asked a simple question. “Honey,” he said to me, “What would you like to do for your birthday?”
“I don’t know.” I told him, “I haven’t really thought about it.”
“Well, we are going to be celebrating it on the fourth since you’ll be out of town on the sixth.”
My fourteen-year-old daughter looked up. “What do you mean? She’ll be home most of the week of her birthday. Why are we celebrating on the fourth?”
My husband gave her a look. “What’s the problem? Have you got something going on the fourth?”
“Yes.” She replied. “I’m planning to overthrow a small republic that day.”
There are all sorts of places the conversation could go at this point. There are all sorts of things the grown people could say. There are lots of options…but this is a home where there are two gifted and cursed adolescents. All bets are off all of the time.
Both my husband and I looked at my daughter.
My husband said, “Well, you’re going to have to reschedule.”
My daughter looked put out. “I can’t just reschedule something like that! Don’t you know how much planning goes into overthrowing a small republic? This has been in the offing for months.”
My husband shook his head. “You could have picked a better week to do it. We have Phantom of the Opera tickets for the following Thursday.”
“Oh,” my daughter informed him, “that won’t be a problem. I do most of my work during the weekday.”
“When?” I challenged.
My daughter gave me a cryptic look. “You don’t know where I am all day.”
My husband thought he had her. “Oh, so when we think you are at school you are not? How did you manage that?”
My seventeen-year-old son piped up. “When I get the call, I put on a wig, scrunch down, and take her place.” He shrugs. “Nobody even notices.” He is six inches taller than she is, not to mention the other physical differences that definitely mark her as a girl and him as not.
I pounce. “Who takes your place?”
My son waves away my concerns. “We have a nameless, faceless corporation that takes care of that.”
My husband attempts to get the situation back on course. “So, what do you want to do?”
My daughter turns to the corner of the room and says, “Karl, we have to change the date for the overthrow.”
My son frowns. “How are you communicating with them? How can they hear you?”
My husband shrugs. “You can secure microphones anywhere.”
“Yeah.” My son agrees, "but how can she hear what they are saying?”
Meanwhile, my daughter has continued to speak to the corner. “Of course you should call the Chinese Mafia. Why wouldn’t you?”
My son turns to me. “I didn’t know the Chinese Mafia was involved.”
My husband sighs and says, “What do you want to do?”
My daughter is upset with Karl. “Don’t argue with me, Karl! Just move it!”
My husband says. “You know, we could always just do it on Friday.”
My daughter looks annoyed. “We just changed the date! Thanks, dad.” She goes back to yelling at Karl. Ultimately she suggests they put the whole thing off for three weeks. “Maybe you should reschedule for the beginning of November.”
My husband sits back in amusement. "Why would you want to overthrow a republic? Why don't you overthrow a dictatorship? Our country is a republic, you know?"
My son turns to me. “Maybe I should start talking to myself. Everyone else at the table is involved in a conversation, and I'm starting to feel left out.”
In an attempt to assuage his sad voice, I put a hand on his arm. "I'll talk to you."
My husband takes a deep breath and tries to regroup in the face of the insanity all around him.
In the end, we decide to take a family road trip to either a museum we have not visited, a zoo, or the Biltmore Estate.
(Later during the same dinner, we reflected that the phrase ‘train’ of thought did not adequately describe what goes on in the minds of most of our family members.)
My daughter decided she has a dolphin of thought. That’s a long story that I will not tell at this point. Let's just say her dolphin veers all over the place and cannot be counted on to get from place to place in any sort of linear fashion.
My son wanted to have a Velociraptor of thought,
My daughter thought my son should have a slot machine of thought because of how random he is. I pointed out that slot machines don’t actually move. My husband suggested a pogo stick of thought, but a pogo stick pro can actually go in a straight line, and my son's thoughts haven't ever gone in a straight line in his entire life. Then, we thought perhaps he had a two-headed snake of thought.
In the end, he decided he had a Sidewinder of thought.
I have a platypus of thought. I even made up a short story on the spot, which I shared with my family about why I am the platypus. It went over well, and was accepted.
My husband is the only one of us who has a ‘train’ of thought. I mean, he is logical, steady, dependable, and he doesn’t like it when things are not on schedule. We all assured him that this is what we like best about him. Somebody in our house needs to be sane since the rest of us are off our rockers. Needless to say, he did not like the idea of being the only one having a ‘train’ of thought. He wanted a hover car of thought, but hover cars are way too unpredictable. Ultimately, my husband went with elephant.
You might ask, “What was happening in your house that day to cause all of this at one meal?”
The answer? Monday.