EDITORS NOTE: I never got around to posting this at Christmas, but here it is now, better late than never.
Here we are at the end of another year and Jill and I have lots to tell you about, only we can't. Two things happened this year which have us effectively muzzled. As a result, we shall have to revert to our practice from 1997 and refer the children by letter.1 First, children A, B, & C are now avid readers and, because they inherited their mother's intelligence, are thankfully quite good at it. As a result, they will want to read this and, because they have now developed an acute self-awareness, I'll get in big trouble for anything that I write about them. This self-awareness is second thing which has happened this year and with it, child A, B, & C have become fairly self-conscious and something else I can’t quite articulate except to say that they now get mad when they overhear me or Jill talking about them to anyone else. When this happens, they get upset. Similar to their budding academic abilities, they are also quite good at getting upset. This too they inherited from Jill…Really.
Child D hasn't learned to read yet, so I suppose I could use his name. However, for the sake of consistency, Jesse will also be referred to by letter. Child D started school this year. As a pre-K student, Jesse has had to face learning the many absurdities of human existence. Within a week or two of school starting, Jesse got frustrated with one of his classmates and bit him. Jill and I had a hard time understanding why he would do this. While Jesse is adept at many types of improvised weapons, biting is rarely part of his normal repertoire. Jill began our earnest concerned parent discussion with him by saying, “Jesse, you know you should never bite your friends.” Jesse calmly replied, “Mom, he’s not my friend.” That, I suppose, should have been obvious. What now is also obvious is that he has already grown so beyond our patronizing little displays of parental guidance.
School is obviously the center of our lives now. I wasn’t terribly fond of second grade school work when I was in second grade. Now, it just feels like torture. Somewhere, Miss Bost, my Second Grade Teacher, is laughing her ass off. Jill, on the other hand, is a born educator so this, like most things she does, comes naturally to her.
Like her mother, Child B also is showing a predilection for teachering. She frequently plays teacher at home with Jesse, whom she describes as her worst student. Sara stands by her little chalk board pointing at him and saying things like, “Look At Me,” and “What Part of NO Do You Not Understand?” In a professorial irony lost on her, Child B simultaneously castigates her pupil on his lack of appropriate behavior while explaining to him the best ways to subvert the rules of kindergarten.
Child C continues to use his natural charm and guilelessness to maneuver his way through life. At school he has succeeded in blinding his teacher to any of his behavioral shortcomings with one simple gesture. During our Fall Parent/Teacher Conference, Child C’s teacher confessed how he had completely charmed her. It seems that every time she makes eye contact with him, he winks at her. Because I’m continually trying to improve my relations with my fellow humans, I’ve experimented with Zane’s winking technique albeit with far less satisfactory results. Fear not, Gentle Readers. My employer’s mandated sensitivity training is almost complete and I have almost shed myself of the attentions of the strange old lady I met at Wal-Mart.
Child A has become Edmond’s resident expert on Herbie, The Love Bug. In fact, his obsession with all things Herbie has extended to all things Volkswagen. This aspect of Child A is recognizable to the degree that Jill and I are now known as “Parents of that Volkswagen kid.” During our Thanksgiving trip to Alabama this year, we also discovered that once can count 3953 Volkswagens between Oklahoma and Jasper, Alabama. Jill and I learned this after 12 hours of non-stop high decibel Volkswagen announcements such as, “OLD STYLE BUG ZERO BUMPERS CUSTOM PAINT AND DENTED LEFT FENDER.”
To Child A’s credit, his enthusiasm has spread to his brothers so between fights over who has who’s yellow slug-bug, we get a chorus of Volkswagen commentary from the seats behind us.
I understand the zeal with which he takes with his interests and think it’s a good thing. However, how does one explain to a seven year old that not everyone in the world will share his fascination with Herbie to the exclusion of all other topics? Child A’s grandfather Fred, a man possessing much greater wisdom than I, decided to try and change subjects with Child A by betting him a dollar that he couldn’t go a day without talking about Herbie. To everyone’s surprise, a dollar bought considerable motivation to Child A who won the bet. There was some controversy in light of Child C’s report that Child A’s claim of not saying “Herbie” did not preclude him spelling it. The man with the dollar, being a kind soul, awarded in favor of Child A.
That’s about all the news we have to report. Jill and I are still employed by OU and Boeing respectively and happy to remain so. We are enjoying good health as much fun as living in a barrel of monkeys affords.
We hope our letter finds you and yours equally happy, healthy, and with your barrels as full of monkey as you like. To our friends spending their holidays working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units everywhere, we offer much thanks and wish all possible blessings in the new year. As always, we’re glad you are there so people like Jill, Jesse, and me can celebrate our holidays with Carter, Sara, and Zane.
<#1> 1. As far as I know, none of the children understand footnotes. Since you, beloved reader, obviously do, we can tell you that Child A is Carter, B is Sara, and C is Zane. Please don’t let on that we told you this.