***Welcome to my newly reformed Parenting Grail. I want to open this space to discuss the REALNESS of parenting in real time. I hope that my experiences help others not feel so alone in the parenting abyss, because, dammmn. It's rough out here.***
Early evening, Sunday, I stood arguing with my teenage daughter over the house key I asked her to surrender, and she refused. Instead, she chose to run into the backyard, stand on our hammock, and scale the wooden fence. Nothing quite screams ‘parenting failure’ than having a child vault shoe-less into a glass littered alley.
I wanted the key because I officially asked my daughter to leave my home that afternoon. We’ve been doing a dance of her not wanting to follow a contract I constructed outlining rules and consequences. She would come home a week, break multiple rules, tire of being accountable, and leave to stay with friends where she had the freedom she craved. The blame would be placed on me for kicking her out when a more accurate account is that she just didn’t want to have to answer to someone else. There were arguments over power dynamics constantly: she felt I was controlling, and I felt she was a hot fucking mess. Her grades slipped dangerously low. I received an email from a teacher than she was in danger of failing a class. She missed a combined 20+ individual classes in this semester alone. With dance, she was showing up seemingly based on whether she felt like it or not. She had dropped two dance classes I had paid for at her studio without informing me.
The last incident involved her and her brother locking themselves out of the house and deciding, when I wouldn’t drop my life to rush to their aid (it was the third time that month), to break my front window to get inside. They then proceeded to lie to me and tell me they had found a key in his jacket pocket. As a result, I made them pay for the repair, which my daughter balked at having to be responsible for.
She had just been home less than a week at this point after having been gone a week and a half prior after the window. During this time, she made sure to repeatedly tell me that she didn’t trust me, didn’t love me anymore, and wanted nothing to do with me, sometimes yelling at me, maybe calling me a bitch, and overall speaking with borderline cruelty. No one knows how to gut you with the finesse that teenagers possess. Tension in the house was awful and I constantly felt anxious around her. After my ten-year old got in the mix and came to my defense one evening, chastising her for calling me the ‘b’ word and speaking to me disrespectfully, she didn’t come home the next night, claiming her therapist felt she could use ‘a break’. When I stated that her therapist wasn’t her guardian, she replied that at least she cared more about her mental health than I did.
Yet, she still needed and expected me to pay for her passport for her trip to Africa. After talking with her counselors at school, I conceded that I would allow her to go on the excursion, despite not wanting to reward the chaos I had come to expect. I felt desperate for something that might give her perspective. But, I also made it crystal clear, in writing, that if she chose to do anything illegal or found herself in legal trouble due to poor choices while on the trip, that I would not be responsible for her behavior. Essentially, she would truly be on her own in every sense when travelling.
While home that week, I confiscated a glass pipe that she left in the middle of her floor, and a bag of weed that she left in the open in her backpack, visible and giving off a noxious odor that was impossible to ignore. One of my highest valued rules is no drugs or paraphernalia in the house, especially when her younger siblings are present. Always, it’s someone else’s bag, or pipe, or vaping liquid. Or she’s not really ‘high’, just ‘tired’. And always, I am not naïve and stupid enough to believe the multitude of excuses.
And then Mother’s Day came. I had to go into work with the younger kids for a couple of hours, and when I returned, I discovered my safe had been broken into with a bobby pin, something I know my daughter mastered from an evening when she repeatedly broke into my bedroom with the same tool after I confiscated her cell phone. The drugs were gone, the safe door left wide open. It’s where I keep every important legal document we own, as well as a myriad of items that I feel I should be able to have a private space to keep. I hit a wall of fury so fast and hard that the torrent of swear words ran out of mouth before I could take a second to think about my younger children sitting downstairs. My younger son ran up, instantly worried. I crumbled into a ball on the floor and lost my collective shit.
We had stopped home on the way to a friend’s house. I managed to relock the safe even though it seemed it might not be functioning properly, and decided to stop at my son’s work to see if he had any knowledge of this. He could see the anger on my face as soon as I approached the glass door and wiggled my finger in a come-hither motion. Cautiously, he stepped outside, and I asked if he knew where his sister was, and he replied with the name of a mutual friend, but didn’t know the address. I asked if he had anything to do with the safe and he said he had been at work for a few hours. I left in a tizzy, messaging my daughter that she would need to leave that evening.
We went to the gathering, and I spent the afternoon discussing the situation with a close friend who has had her own experiences with addiction and family. It felt reassuring to hear from someone else that I had the right to stand my ground, and I should. It is so hard when you are in the thick of such situations to not feel a sense of desperation and insecurity. I question every decision, and its legality. Is this too harsh? Too rigid? At what point do you draw the definitive line in the sand? Am I being a shitty parent by wanting my daughter to choose sobriety, and asking her to leave?
When we got home, she was in the house, and I made it clear she needed to phone a friend and pack some belongings. On the table sat a pile of papers for her trip that she was supposed to scan two days prior and had blown off to do something else. Deadlines no longer seemed to mean anything to her. I’m wasn’t even sure the trip meant anything anymore. I told her she would be on her own to get a plane or bus ticket to Denver, where her international flight would be departing from. I had planned on buying the ticket this week, but I also knew that her biological father had wired her money, which she was squandering on fast food and drugs. I figured it would do her good to assume some responsibility and invest in something she wanted. It taken over a month for her to get her shit together to apply for the passport, and all I had asked her to contribute was the list of documents I needed to furnish, which she produced the evening before the appointment, after I had rescheduled at least 7 times.
Then I asked for the key, and an argument ensued, with her flat out refusing to hand it to me. I blocked the entrance to the front door, and my daughter made a beeline for the patio doors, and into our small backyard she sprinted. I watched my 16-year-old climb and vault over a rickety wooden fence in socks (I think she left her shoes behind), and felt a part of that relationship die in a way that it could never be recovered.
I’ve learned more than I could have ever anticipated from this ordeal. You can love people from the depth of your soul but that all doesn’t mean a thing when someone is high. Drugs are powerful incentives to manipulate, lie, and twist the truth to one’s advantage. I’ve awakened to the knowledge that my family has a history of suppressing addiction in ways that have been detrimental and unhealthy without my ever recognizing it. I never wanted the strength to tell someone I love that they face homelessness due to their behavior, but it is something I now own, possess, and manage. It is a double-edged sword of guilt and resolve. I have absolutely no control over how any of this will turn out, and that is utterly terrifying. I worry about my daughter’s health and well-being constantly, and I feel enormous guilt that I can’t be there for her, because she’s not really ‘there’. She hasn’t been ‘present’ for a while, and I must constantly remind myself of that fact. And I miss ‘her’ tremendously, and long for the times before drugs became an issue, and for the girl she used to be. I don’t know if I will ever see her again, and the thought of that crushes my heart.
It’s been hard to watch my younger children experience pain and fear parallel to my own. Every time I pick them up, my son asks if his brother and sister are living at home, and my daughter told me tonight that every time her sister leaves she can feel the crack in her heart. They miss her, but I also know that they too recognize the shift and difference in behavior and well-being. It’s like trying to love a ghost in real time. You can reach for them, but they slip through your fingers, nothing but an illusion of what you used to know.
All of this makes the future so unsettling and unsure. Yet, I can’t put my life on hold while she sorts out whatever this journey she has chosen for herself is here to teach her. I can’t stay home from work daily to make sure she makes it to school on time, be there to make sure she doesn’t have people in the house, or isn’t using when I’m not home. I’m her mother, but not her keeper. At the age of 16, there is enough understanding of self-responsibility that I believe she is capable of navigating many of these choices and bearing the accountability of her choices. My policy had been to keep the door open if she chose to come home and abide by my boundaries. But now, that door has shut for the time being, and I will have to adjust to the notion that until she makes the choice to be sober, with a willingness to live respectfully, that I may have to live without her in my life in the same way. I wish I could describe that kind of pain: losing a child when they are still breathing, as if they have died metaphorically. It’s a crushing, soul stinging kind of hurt, and there’s nothing that can prepare a parent to watch a child become a shell of herself as she slowly trades her best attributes to the seductive power of getting high.
I sat looking at a photo of her and her brother the other day, and I realized that of all my children, she is the one that I have, in certain ways, known the least. I don’t remember when she was conceived, as I do my other children, as I didn’t know of her existence until I was 6 months pregnant. It was a brief honeymoon of preparing for her because they were born 5 weeks early. She has always been a bit more of an enigma, and private, and I have tried to respect her need to be that way. I named her after one of the strongest, female, literary characters I could find. But it kills me inside that in my effort to give her such autonomy and strength, I likely missed the silent suffering she has borne, and that has contributed to her turning to substances to grant her relief. Looking back, I’m sure there were subtle signs, but I always trusted her, and I feel an enormous sense of regret that I didn’t do more, even if I don’t know what that ‘more’ could possibly be. And that failure as a parent weighs on me daily, the heaviness in my chest mine to bear alone.
In the meantime, I think of her daily. I send her love, and affirmations, which is the closest I come to prayer. I wonder where she’s staying, and if she feels safe. I think she believes I hate her, but she has no concept of the depth of my love. There is an unconditional ocean of affection I will always feel for her. But I also know that if I swim in those waters right now, I might drown in its turmoil, because the undertow of addiction can pull me under too. And not only would that be an even greater failure than the one I already feel, it would do nothing to help her navigate toward an understanding of responsibility and maturity. So, I continue to stand on the shore, watching the waves, longing to dive, wishing for the waters to calm, waiting for ‘her’ return, if she makes that choice.
It has been 39 days since our last entry…where has the time passed? The benefactor knows. It has been spent consistently asking the elder children to pick up after themselves repeatedly. Dishes, clothing, food, etc. have been constantly left in a state of disarray and disorganization, to the point where the benefactor now leaves signs to remind of the expectations in the morning in places where the children can view them in plain sight. Many friends of the children has been invited to visit, the homestead left in shambles when they leave. It has been a constant source of vexation for the benefactor, who is now convinced this is a necessary phase so that she won't crumble when the elder children depart in little more than a year.
Other moments have been spent with children fighting off illness, beginning with the youngest female, traveling to the eldest male, then eldest female, and then ending its course with the youngest male. This included 3 separate visits to hospital with the youngest female amid great concern that a more serious physical ailment was at hand and not a mere virus. Suffice to say that the benefactor now feels like she knows the entire staff of the emergency department, but is grateful that everyone survived the vicious illness that spread like wildfire.
The elder female recently won a monetary gift to help realize her dream of traveling to Africa this summer to enjoy animal conservation. When the benefactor proposed buying some easy to clean/dry clothing, the female stared at her blankly. The benefactor went on to explain that the elder female will be living in a city, but one where certain amenities, such as access to electric laundry services, or clean drinking water, may not be available. Also, the benefactor promoted wearing shirts with longer sleeves to help protect the female’s bare skin from sunshine and insects. Both suggestions, as usual, were met with inflated resistance, and the benefactor could only internally sigh and recognize that with this experience, as with many that came before, the elder female will just simply have to learn by going through it, just hopefully not contracting malaria or another disease in the process.
The benefactor was fortunate to have all the children for the made-up holiday celebrating St. Valentine, and she received generous and lovely gifts from the youngest female and elder male, including handmade cards, and a glass with the message, “wine is cheaper than therapy” scrolled across its front. Despite this, the celebratory nature of the day was was overshadowed by news that children had been attacked with firearms in a learning institution, with many casualties. After dinner, the younger male, somber, asked the benefactor when someone might come and shoot up his school, to which the benefactor sat mute, not having, or wanting to have, such an answer.
Recently, the elder male had a performance where he demonstrated his dance ability. Twas a beauty and enjoyable experience for all. It gave cause for the younger children to dress in their finest for the first performance. The next day, the younger male, not wanting to watch a second time, volunteered to sit with his younger sister, and a younger friend, and keep an eye out on their activities so the benefactor could enjoy the show. Upon leaving the theater, the younger male, looking worn and exhausted, lamented that “it was sure hard work taking care of children”. On the inside, the benefactor couldn’t help but laugh hysterically to herself, more than a bit happy he got a tiny dose of his own medicine.
Lastly, the younger male was confronted with an unexpected dilemma recently when a fellow female ballet friend asked him to enter into relationship and be her ‘boyfriend’. The young lady was also so bold as to approach the benefactor and state her affection for the younger male face to face. Perplexed, the younger male came and sat with the benefactor, asking for sage advice, which she felt perhaps she was not the best person to give, now twice divorced. They made a list of the potential pros and cons of being in a relationship. The benefactor encouraged him to reach deep and explore how he felt, and he concluded that because he has an affinity for another at school, he could not commit to the young lady. In the end, he tactfully let her down and still retained her friendship, which is quite a feat for even adults in the strenuous world of dating, let alone the mercurial age of ten. Alas, the benefactor was quite relieved he chose to enjoy his romantic independence for a wee bit longer.
Much has changed since the last entry. We enjoy the younger children’s company less, much to our dismay, but it cannot be helped. Despite such upheaval, life has been the same, plodding on. This week, the elder female spent extra time with the benefactor, due to needing extra medical attention. She was so enthused to spend time at her employment that she demonstrated her fervor by melting into her chair while listening to music, generally avoiding the benefactor, per usual.
The elder children have been contemplating their future, and spent an evening with the benefactor and the hound, mapping out their prospects. It started with the elder male, who plopped himself on the mattress in the benefactor’s boudoir, later joined by his female twin. He is excited to have many options and programs to choose from, while the elder female has decided to travel to Botswana to observe the foreign culture and learn about the conservation of animals, which is very exciting.
Meanwhile, the younger children are acclimating to their reduced time, trying to regain a sense of rhythm and structure that has since been lost. It has exhausted the younger female, who after being put to sleep the other evening, attempted to journey after waking, only to fall asleep on the floor of her bedroom, folded like a towel.
Much of this transition seems to have also affected the mutt, who appears more lonely and needy than usual, cuddling up with the elder female at every opportunity she can grab, or stealing into any empty lap where she might lie her head. The younger male has become more protective of his canine pal, as he demonstrated when the elder children were teasing her by yelling, “Don’t touch a morsel on this dog’s hair,” which sent everyone into peels of laughter. Per usual, she sleeps in the empty beds of the younger children when they are not home.
The benefactor discovered that the younger male’s attention is in demand at his ballet studio. One girl frequently stops to talk to him, eyelashes fluttering, sending him into a tizzy where he now ‘disappears’ when he sees her approaching. As he has told the benefactor many a time, he is just not ready for that type of commitment, yet. That seemed reasonable to the benefactor, more so than his insistence on wearing his tighter dance pants, to give his ‘little man’ more freedom, as it seems the opposite would be true. Shortly thereafter, we discovered he was actually wearing his younger sibling’s pants, and a hasty change of clothes was required, as was much laughter.
Despite such a week of chaos, the benefactor is thankful that the sun still shines, the moon still rises, and she still gets to spend precious time with her four, gorgeous hearts.
It has been a tense week for the benefactor. The elder children seem to have made it their missions in life to make her own weepy and miserable, and she appears to be approaching her wit’s end. Many an argument has ensued over the elder children’s inability to take care of mundane tasks, such as garbage, dishes, and room maintenance. ‘Tis a neverending, infuriating battle, it seems. The elder male also found himself in greater peril when he decided to defy the benefactor and get a 'ride' home with a friend after his dance training, an adventure which took 90 minutes, despite the distance from the house to the studio of less than 5 miles. He has now lost the privilege of using his board with wheels attached that he rides for transportation for the next week. There is great concern if the two elder children will, indeed, reach the age of 17.
The younger children and the benefactor spent a great deal of time this past weekend utilizing the media box and learning about the magnificent wildlife that inhabits the earth, as well as about extremely dangerous creatures from South America that could easily cut your life short. It has been eye opening, enjoyable, and terrifying all at the same time. The younger female also cajoled the benefactor into making art using wax sticks and a book with preset designs. Much to her surprise, the benefactor found it oddly therapeutic, and hopes that it becomes a regular practice she and the younger female can indulge in.
There has been great battle over dinnertime in the household. The younger children protested at great length about the nutritious and delicious meals the benefactor provided. While the younger male pretended to try a bit, he then complained until the benefactor capitulated and provided him with tamales. On the other hand, the younger female took a very clever route and simply fell asleep, refusing to rouse for her nighttime repast.
Last night, the younger male hemmed and hawed at having to practice his musical instrument. Intentionally, to protest, he began to blow notes loudly and off key, and while it initially irritated the benefactor, she merely placed special speakers in her ears and listened to more appealing music until he calmed down. Eventually, he began to practice in earnest, and she was taken by how much progress he has made. After complimenting his artistry, the younger male treated the benefactor to an impromptu concert, which made her heart happy.
This morning, the benefactor took great pride in waking early to perform her calisthenics and have the younger children ready for a day of education. As they jovially left for the day into the crisp air, she discovered that the transportation vehicle had died overnight and would not awaken. While she did not panic, the benefactor required a few moments to herself to problem solve. She called for a company to come and assist with giving her a ‘jump’ while the younger children were more than delighted to sit and enjoy beloved tales about dragons on the media box. One and a half hours later, and they were finally able to get on their way. Although it was frustrating, the benefactor enjoyed the more languid morning pace, and having the opportunity to spend a bit of extra time with two of her favorite people in the entire universe.
'Tis a miracle! We have survived over 200 days since this journal began, despite many obstacles. Another new year beckons!
Before the New Year could fall, we descended into chaos while making homemade pickles, which should seem like a simple task, yet became a battleground for arguments and never ending nitpicking, particularly on the part of the younger male, who refuses at any moment to let a disagreement die an honorable death. Per usual, he was slighted by being asked to chop two different things while the younger female merely had to add herbs to a jar, both equally age appropriate tasks but nonetheless fodder for incessant complaining. He disagreed so vehemently that it drove the younger female to tears and she left her responsibilities to the elder female.
To assuage the younger female, the benefactor had her assist with making posole, a spicy stew of hominy, and a New Year’s Eve tradition. Together, they measured and mixed ingredients to ensure the perfect blend of red chile flavor with other rich spices. Afterward, the benefactor took the younger female aside and they spent some quality moments applying lacquer to their nails and bonding. The elder female then assisted both the younger female and benefactor with applying fancy face painting for the evening’s festivities.
In the evening, we sat down to usher in the New Year as a family, enjoying our posole and reflecting on the year past and the year to come. Soon, it was time for the younger children to leave, and the benefactor transported them to the home of another benefactor. When she returned, the elder children relayed that they had crafted plans to spend the evening with companions in the town square, leaving the benefactor to her own plans.
When the benefactor returned home after the turn of the day, the elder female was alone sitting in pajamas, watching the media box. The elder male had relayed a message that he would be spending the evening at a friend’s home. As she cleaned up the kitchen, the benefactor came across a glass bottle filled with juice doctored with a brown liquor gifted the benefactor during the holidays, and which was now lower in volume. The elder female denied having anything to do with the concoction, and promptly ratted out her twin sibling.
In the morning, the benefactor woke the elder male with messages, demanding his presence at home immediately. He claimed he could not return right away, as he was at a different friend’s home than the one originally stated. Instead, the benefactor swooped him up as she traveled to her employment, and they had a tete-a-tete regarding some of the poorer life choices the elder male had recently made. He apologized to the benefactor, assuring her that none of the mixture was imbibed, but mostly created for jest. Regardless, the elder male will be forbidden from socializing for approximately 30 days, many evenings of which will be spent in the direct company of the benefactor. The benefactor thanked the elder female for being less worrisome, and for spending much of her time at home, in pajamas, even though she has taken up the irritating habit of making three cups of time at one time, and leaving them in small piles across the living and dining room.
On the first day of the new year, the younger children returned, meeting the benefactor and elder male at her employment, where part of the day was spent squabbling with one another. Finally, they returned home, collecting a nice, warm meal, and then spent time looking at the lunar landscape through the younger male’s new astronomical spyglass, as well as peering at select stars. Despite the bitter chill, the children enjoyed their time outside and having the opportunity to see the moon up close and personal.
All in all, as we settle into a new year full of new adventure, we hope that you remember the things we have learned to treasure this special holiday season: family, laughter, and connection. May the year two thousand and eighteen bring you much joy and love, as it will us.
Tis the season to be…something. In the benefactor’s case, a bit harried and busy. It seems her employment has been a veritable explosion of birth, a nonstop frenzy that has left her exhausted in the evenings, a perfect condition for children who desire asking favors, of which there have been many. Please, benefactor, take me here. Please, loan me this. Please, please, please.
The benefactor and children hosted an open house the evening prior to the eve of Christmas. Much preparation and culinary ingenuity was required to produce the grand menu we aspired to present. On the eve of the eve of the eve, the benefactor set us to work: chopping, mixing, and shredding various vegetables and dairy products to allow cooking the meal to run smoothly. It was difficult and arduous work, and required payment in cookies, which the benefactor reluctantly obliged. However, she had no choice but to meet our demands, or work solo.
Our open house was a lovely, all day affair where various friends came through to wish us happy holidays as we cooked tamales, enchiladas, and various sweets. The benefactor only became irritated with us twice today, which is a new low. This may have been assisted by the spiked cider she was partaking in throughout the late afternoon, which lent her a more relaxed nature. In the evening, we built a fire outside and sat with acquaintances, as the benefactor hosted her own people in the living room. When it got too cold, we returned inside, and the benefactor wondered if we had extinguished the fire. We planned to leave it burning and unattended, with a blind faith that nothing bad could possibly happen. She insisted we douse the fire with water and make sure it was dead, which was more work for us, but apparently necessary to guarantee we would not set the entire neighborhood on fire.
Of course, we asked the benefactor if we could use her boudoir to entertain, and she promptly refused allowance. We did so anyway, leaving various cups and platters scattered about the room, and the crumbles of cookies somehow fallen between the sheet and bedspread, about which the benefactor was heartily displeased.
On the eve of Christmas, the benefactor forced us to engage in unpaid work at one of our schools, assisting with parking cars for the annual art walk at a close by destination. It was an hour in freezing temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, and we did our best to complain nonstop and make it known how miserable the experience of having to do something for other people made us feel. After, all but one of us were ushered to the art walk by the benefactor, a yearly tradition. Again, we did our best to let her know how horrendous the experience of walking amidst lights, farolitos, and carolers was, driving her to tears until she returned us to the car, and home. Despite our insidious behavior, the benefactor prepared us food and warmed cocoa, although our poor canine, as she was pouring the liquid chocolate, was slightly doused when the pan splashed. It was a good lesson for the mutt to learn to not stand at the benefactor’s feet in the kitchen. After reflecting on our actions, almost all of us offered apology, which she kindly accepted.
Christmas morning came and the youngest female attempted waking the benefactor prior to the sun even tiptoeing across the horizon, then allowed her a scant amount of additional rest before waking her through relentless chatter. The younger male also, miraculously, woke by himself in the wee hours and came in to rouse the benefactor. Finally, she rose, and then, with glee, took joy in waking the exhausted, elder children, who were also required to participate in the tradition of tearing paper off gifts and eating griddle cakes.
After great anticipation as she made her morning tea, we took turns opening presents, oooing and aaahing over our bounty. When we finished, the benefactor prepared our breakfast, which most of us only half ate, too engrossed with our toys and tech. By afternoon, all we could manage were to lay like immovable, tossed sacks across the furniture. The benefactor was required to go to her employment, and when she returned, we remained in the same positions as when she left.
That night, we watched various media box entertainment, and simply enjoyed the company of each other, perhaps the best gift of all this season.
This has been a very active and chaotic week for the benefactor and children. Holiday vacation has descended, which means preparation for festive celebrations and plenty of time to slowly drive the benefactor insane as the days count down. To recharge, the younger female and benefactor spent some time on Sunday resting and watching the media box, literally lying in bed without a care in world. It was a peaceful and quiet afternoon of snuggles, conversation, and laughter.
Later that day, the benefactor took the younger children to visit with the man in the red suit. Only the younger female chose to talk to St. Nick, as the elder male bounced around the outlying kiosks of goods, constantly touching items as the benefactor reminded him over and over to stop touching said items. This was followed by gathering some holiday necessities from a general store, which turned into a faux jousting match when the children decidedly chose tubes of shiny wrapping paper and used them to charge at one another in the crowded store. After getting them to stand down with minor threats, the children began an endless litany of complaining about having to shop and be out in public, and the benefactor gave up and took them back to the homestead, for which they thanked the benefactor by making her tea.
The next day, the younger children accompanied the benefactor to her place of employment for the day, which proved to be a draining and exhausting day of nonstop whining and boredom, as the younger children did not adequately prepare activities to keep them busy. Upon leaving, however, an interesting conversation ensued when the youngest female pronounced that she wasn’t sure, but she might marry a woman when she is older, and then asked the benefactor if two women could have children together. The younger male, without a filter, immediately responded that she would need to borrow male virility to make that possible, which the benefactor had to carefully and gently explain as the can of worms had been opened. During the conversation that followed, the younger male was shocked to learn that men could have children pretty much until the day they died, whereas women suffer from yet another form of ageism when it comes to reproduction, which irritated the younger female.
When they finally arrived home that evening, the younger male sensed the benefactor’s exhaustion, refusing his nighttime meal, insisting that he hated the potato soup the elder female had worked all day to make, which the benefactor didn't have the energy to argue. However, he then attempted to steal a bag of cinnamon baking chips as his dinner, sloppily hiding them in a blanket, where they fell with a thud to his feet as he tried to slink away. That night, the benefactor was never so happy to hear the whisper soft breath of children sleeping.
For their holiday correspondence, the benefactor insisted they gather and travel to a location above the city to have their image captured. After 20 takes, the appropriate portrait was finally captured, but not until after the elder male and younger female jokingly faked a maternity pose, and the children lost their composure for several minutes. Their task accomplished, they wandered down to the city center plaza to admire the festive lights, and then reconnected with the elder male who was meeting his new love interest for a rooftop, sunset picnic in the crisp, winter air. The younger children only mildly embarrassed him, which openly entertained the benefactor, who rewarded the other children with drinkable cocoa and snacks at a local western establishment.
Apparently suffering from amnesia, the benefactor again took the children shopping, this time finding herself yelling in vain as they acquired air guns and played a game of cat and mouse throughout the store (luckily not being asked to leave), the benefactor unsuccessfully trying to pick out gifts as she asked them repeatedly to stand down. They then traveled to a food market, where the younger male stealthily swiped an excessive amount of free, sample cookies, vexing the benefactor and pushing her to threaten his expected gifts if he did not stop stealing.
Tensions have been running high between the elder male and the benefactor, as he strives for independence but does so without the same respect for the benefactor he once displayed. The elder children, in general, have been much more defiant as of late, and with all else the benefactor feels she is fighting in this world, it often feels like too much to argue with them over and over, especially as her love for them know no bounds. Alas, as the holidays descend, hopefully some semblance of peace will accompany it, for both our home, and yours.
The past week has had its share of ups and downs for the benefactor and the children, primarily with each other. Seemingly wanting to make it their sole mission in life to drive the benefactor to an early grave, the elder children continue to argue with the benefactor over their shared responsibilities in the homestead. They often seem surprised when asked to repeat a chore they were required to do just the week before (hint: they continue to live in the space), and often act indignant in the face of such obligations. Clearly, this drives the benefactor crazy, and oft when she finds herself repeating the same requests over and over, it is with less congeniality in direct proportion to the number of asks, which then infuriates the children, and further incites conflict. Tis a vicious circle for all.
This past weekend, the children were directed to assist with tidying to facilitate decorating for the yuletide holiday, including building their faux evergreen for adornment purposes. It took hours of cajoling, and the benefactor shouldering much of the cleaning duty, to finally get them to do some simple tasks to help. When it came time for placing ornaments and other such festive items, the benefactor left it to the progeny, which boiled down to the eldest female doing most of the work while occasionally throwing a snide comment to the younger siblings, lost in the media box. Internally, the benefactor felt a tiny stab of glee watching the elder female, generally her greatest resister, having to live out her every day, always bargaining for aid, existence.
Last night, the benefactor had to take all the children to a special event for the elder youth on preparing for the rest of their lives once they have finished their teenage school years, a topic that gives the benefactor great concern, as they seem quite incapable of functioning independently most days. A rather long presentation found the benefactor being distracted by the younger children, reasonably bored, who acted out by writing on the table they were seated at, or deciding at random to sit underneath it. However, she ascertained the elder children’s future goals for attending higher education through their written responses: the elder female wants to use the opportunity to leave the country, potentially join a service organization abroad, learn to live alone, and in general, prepare to enter the workforce. The elder male, on the other hand, wrote about his interest in art and science, particularly medicine and dance, and how he would use his time to explore and party. While slightly concerning, there was nothing she could refute in his goals, considering how she spent her own formative years.
Every other week, the benefactor invites an acquaintance to the home in the wee hours of the morning for calisthenics, while the children sleep. This week, however, the younger female woke when the benefactor rose, and insisted she could not return to sleep. Instead, she came downstairs, along with the mutt, and persisted in being as distracting as possible during the exercise routine by capturing herself as a moving picture on the benefactors talking square, primarily creating messages for her favorite pop star. She did this seven times. Seven times. In addition to her disturbance, the canine seemed to harbor a secret death with by walking in front of the benefactor and trainer as they were utilizing heavy metal bells with movement. Finally, the benefactor sent her to wake the younger male and prepare for the day, hoping these tasks would take her enough time to leave them in peace. Of course, she returned five minutes later (with the hound), fully dressed except for her stockings, which the trainer graciously helped her dress in as the benefactor was mid-routine.
After finally getting through the morning physical training, the benefactor quickly readied, only to be detracted by a search for the younger female’s new handbag, which went missing overnight. Finally, the bag was located in the laundry room (why?) despite the benefactor clearly remembering placing it in the child’s room. It does not help that the elder female has converted every inch of their room into her own personal closet and make up facility, and nary an inch of the carpet is visible.
Once in the moving vehicle, the younger female, irate and sick of the younger male taunting her singing, threw a paper plate (again, how did this find its way there?), hitting him square in the eye en route. They continued a back and forth, hands on experience, until the benefactor threatened, with conviction, that she would pull to the side of the highway and force them to make their own way on foot. At last, they placed their hands in their laps and conceded it was, perhaps, just not worth the potential agony of being abandoned by the side of the road.
The previous week, the children mostly got along well, which was a rare occasion. Rather, they chose to bicker with benefactor individually rather than each other. It often seems that when the children find their own unusual methods of working out their disagreements, it makes the benefactor more distraught and concerned for the well-being of all, as it usually involves some form of warfare, such as using plastic, practice weaponry. Aside from attempts to improve their target practice and annoy each other endlessly, they also seemed determined to heartily irritate the benefactor, often caught in the cross hairs of such battles.
Mispronunciation seems to be an issue that is ravaging like a disease amongst the male kin. During a random conversation, the younger male announced to his family that he would be the only one able to have ‘erractions’ during a now forgotten circumstance when he would be older. After copious laughter subsided, the benefactor gently corrected his miswording. He also informed everyone at a different time that he would be more equipped to perform the ‘himinach’ maneuver should someone in the household require it. Again, much giggling ensued, and the younger male, unaware of his mistake, merely looked about in disbelief and asked, “what?’ many times over. The older male also struggled, discussing the musical Les Miserable, and botching the name into ‘Les Me’, similarly mocked like his younger counterpart.
The elder male and elder female participated in a school dance over the weekend, after a special holiday party at the elder male’s place of employment. He was slightly vexed when the benefactor insisted on transporting him to the second event, insisting she get the opportunity to meet his newest love interest. Just to annoy him a slight bit more, the benefactor insisted on taking a photo of not just the elder male and his date, but also having his date take a photo of her with the elder male. He was not amused.
At the end of this weekend, the younger children were kept at their other benefactor’s home, after concerns of communicable disease when the younger male became infected with influenza. The benefactor missed them greatly, but also wanted to protect the health of the elder children, and herself, as well.
Lately, tensions have been running high between the benefactor and her brood. Instead of having to instruct the children a few times to motivate them to complete their tasks, it seems to now take almost entire days of cajoling for the benefactor to inspire them to actually move. This is both frustrating for the children, who tire of nagging, as well as the benefactor, who exhausts from being the naggee. Dishes have been left in large, unstable piles, and it often feels as if a tornado ravages the home, particularly following the elder children path’s through the house. For the benefactor, it feels like never ending disaster management without any real threat of disaster. There still remains hope that perhaps, one day, the elder will understand the benefactor’s frustration, but alas, not likely until they themselves become benefactors themselves.
It has been several weeks since our existence was last recorded. So much has transpired. The benefactor bid us adieu for 10 days, traveling east to Kentucky to chase her muse with a pen and paper. In her wake, the elder male and elder female were left in the care of a companion, continuing their studies in the benefactor’s absence.
While she was gone, the elder children decided to invite classmates over for a social gathering. In the midst, they decided to make homemade popcorn, neglecting the kernels as they smoldered and began to catch fire. According to the elder male, he smelled smoke, ran into the kitchen, and in a fit of desperate thinking, picked up the pot, ran outside, and threw it into the dirt, where an oil ring stain remains. There will no longer be popping of popcorn when the benefactor is not present.
Another incident relayed to the benefactor involved a man who was spotted by the elder female lurking in the front yard of our home as well as the neighbor’s. She told the benefactor that the man walked up to the front door and was breathing heavily. Of course, this was not relayed to the benefactor until days after the occurrence, at which point she was unable to do anything.
However, the scariest moment for the benefactor came as she was en route to return, and the elder female communicated that she was alone in the house when she suspected two people of breaking into the home. Apparently, law enforcement was already chasing some interested parties, and she believed the sought refuge in the living room. Smart as a whip, the elder female contacted the authorities who arrived promptly. It is believed the suspects disappeared over the back fence. Thus, the benefactor was greeted with tales of endangerment and fear upon her arrival. She felt grateful that all had survived the harrowing week and a half.
Seeing the children again gave the benefactor great joy, even though the younger children, when she finally saw them again for the first time, were primarily excited to learn with what gifts had been brought home for their benefit, rather than happy to just see the benefactor herself.
Later in the week, on the national holiday were people eat slaughtered turkeys with vegetable dishes, the elder children and the benefactor prepared a feast much greater than necessary for the three of them. As the younger children were not present, the table felt too quiet and empty. Twas the first time they had ever been separated for this particular celebration, and it was still lovely but somber.
To celebrate her return, the benefactor took all the children to a special viewing of the picture show, The Polar Express, on a huge screen with multidimensional realism. As usual, the benefactor gave everyone a time of departure hours in advance, and as usual, the elder female was slightly unprepared when the time to leave was upon them. Of course, this meant leaving later than planned, and arriving to the special event where a long line awaited them. Thankfully, seats were still available in the top row, and the benefactor and children settled in. The benefactor sent the elder female to purchase water and popcorn. As the younger children ravaged the popcorn instantly, the benefactor sent her back again to get another bucket, much to her chagrin. Afterward, the benefactor attempted to snap a photograph of all the children, only to have the elder male rebuke her efforts. This incited an argument, and the journey home was eerily silent. After arriving back at their domain, the elder male apologized profusely for his behavior, and the benefactor was glad to forgive him. More than anything, she was happy to have him, and the other children, to hug in person.
The children have been nitpicking at each other incessantly the past few days. Perhaps sensing the benefactor’s arriving departure, they are making it easier for her to journey by unleashing bickering and arguing. It is harder to miss people when they seem intent on driving you loony. One dispute, for instance, involved the younger female crying because she realized that she had not been living with the younger male his entire life, whereas everyone has. For some reason, it caused her great pain to comprehend that she had not been present since his birth, and her sensitive soul could not handle that realization.
This past Sunday, the children insisted on doing nothing, which was not quite out of the ordinary, except the benefactor truly needed them to really do some things. It felt like a constant tug of war, where she gained an inch of ground, only to have them retreat and complain. The benefactor had to pull out all the stops and threaten to withhold the very special holiday cookies that the children’s grandmother baked and shipped recently. Finally, motivation entered their bones to complete the tasks at hand.
On Monday, shopping was required to prepare and guarantee that the elder children would not starve and waste away in the benefactor’s absence. This was met with great resistance as the younger children had to accompany the benefactor. Thanks to the world losing light at an ungodly, early hour, their levels of fatigue and protest have elevated, and it only added to their unhappiness at arriving home later. The benefactor hoped to buffer this by providing a snack while at the general store, but even that was not enough to prevent their grumbles and bitterness.
Yesterday, with the benefactor prepared and ready to adventure, she was able to partake in an evening of party games with the younger children, playing a replication of life. As they played, the benefactor began questioning some of Life’s requirements, such as marriage. The elder male, open minded and adaptable, said she would not have to be married if she did not wish, so the benefactor’s pink piece happily wandered the board in its car solo, which felt like an appropriate metaphor for her own current existence.
In the midst, the younger female also asked her to assist with an educational art project, and they debated for some time how they should disguise the drawing of a turkey, with the younger female intrigued at the notion of turning him into a vampire or dinosaur. The benefactor, in an effort to seek greater originality, and taking into account the art supplies at hand, suggested turning the turkey into an iconic musician. After pondering the concept, the younger female agreed, and they gathered supplies as the younger male continued to play the game on their behalf. The younger female gave direction on what design she required, and the benefactor created such for her, occasionally having to wake the younger female, who began dozing while sitting and overseeing the project. Finally finished, the elder male announced that his sibling had won the game, and the benefactor ushered them off to bed.
This morning, the younger children took again to quarreling, with the elder male continually pushing past the limits of others, as he is wont to do. This specific argument, over whether they wanted each other as siblings (which is, at this moment, a moot point and well out of their ability to control, the genetic damage being done) ended in the younger female shedding tears of hurt. The elder children were woken by the quibbling, and then also became part of the disagreement, with voices bouncing off the walls. With early morning calm that she didn’t know existed, the benefactor was able to settle the younger children and encourage the elders to return to their sleeping lairs. The benefactor had to pull the elder male aside and explain his job as a role model for about the thousandth time, and why he should be kinder for one thousand and one. He heaved a sigh, looking at the benefactor with an expression of knowing what he should be doing, even though he didn’t want to do it. But alas, he is constantly learning, as we all are, in this game of life. It was as much a reminder to the benefactor to be gentle with herself when she doesn’t live up to her own expectations, as she is compassionate with him.
Saying goodbye is always the most difficult part for the benefactor when traveling. She hugged the younger children a few extra times, their bodies squirming to be free so they could get inside their educational center. They reluctantly obliged her a couple of snapshots, even though the younger male reminded her several times that she already has over 500 photos (touche). The younger female chimed in as well, saying that the benefactor didn’t need any more pictures, to which the benefactor replied she couldn’t get enough. In the apex of their youth, they do not feel the march of time the same as the benefactor, how important it is for her to capture these singular moments, lest they are one day confronted with the possibility of its impermanence, and given no more.
Earlier in the week, the benefactor had us prepare for the upcoming celebration of all things spooky and supernatural. She dragged a large tote from storage, and we dug in, eager to begin to piece together an eerie scene in the front courtyard. The younger male took some faux spider webbing, globbing it in big, thick sections from place to place, not taking the time to slowly stretch and pull it into the correct shape. After an hour, he became bored, and decided he no longer wished to participate, leaving the elder male to finish his handiwork and assemble the webs properly. The younger female quickly followed suite. As per her usual behavior, the elder female lay napping in her room, leaving the benefactor and elder male to complete the tableau.
That evening, the benefactor learned that the younger male had gotten himself suspended from an extra-curricular program due to proclaiming his right to free speech. He has been a repeat offender with speaking out of turn. So, the following day, the benefactor was required to gather him and the younger female directly after school, and then took them to her place of employment, where they sat drawing, until the elder male decided he was bored, and talked incessantly about it. When they finally began to leave, the benefactor told the younger male that she hoped he, “had 20 children just like yourself.” Unfortunately, this created a slippery slope conversation, where the younger male then replied, “You mean I would have to do it with 20 women, that’s a lot!” It further declined as he began working different mathematical angles, and treating his potential procreation as an equation: “I could have 5 women and do it with each of them 4 times.” The benefactor commented about the possibility of him being married 5 times and he replied that he was never getting married, and why should he? He then postulated that he could, “do it with 2 women for 40 times each” but couldn’t quite understand how the benefactor arrived at that meaning he would have to ‘do it’ 80 times. When he finally understood the calculation, he commented that if he ‘did it’ 80 times he could die, as that would be dangerous, since disease is always a risk. When the benefactor told him he could ‘do it’ once and get a disease, he pondered for a moment and then said, “Nah, I’ll use condoms.” With that, the benefactor firmly let the conversation drop into oblivion.
Yesterday was the celebration of Allhallows Eve, and the children all dressed in costumes: the younger children as popular pop culture icons, and the older two as television related characters and networks. The benefactor, along with a friend and her child, took the younger children to gather candy from houses donned with porch lights and decorations, walking them for over an hour. When they finally returned home, they spread out their candy bounty and began to negotiate amongst each other.
A moment of terror ensued when the younger female accidentally lodged a small ball of candy in her throat, prompting the benefactor to have to use rescue measures to assist her breathing. It was a frightening and awful moment for all the children, especially the younger female, who, once breathing, broke down crying. The benefactor calmed the younger female, her own nerves shaken, but later sat with her curled into her lap, crying fiercely and uncontrollably. The younger female consoled her and said not to worry because she was okay now, which helped but did not resolve the aching in the benefactor’s heart for what might have been lost.
Getting out the door this morning felt like climbing a mountain in Nepal. The benefactor woke the younger children, who wanted nothing more than to languish in bed on a cool, fall morning. It took several prompts to rouse them from their dreams. It then took patience to help the children find appropriate clothing, which they were asked to do the evening before, yet ignored the benefactor’s simple request.
The elder male work exceptionally early to merely dumped the benefactor’s fresh laundry into a wrinkled pile so that he could finish his own. Repeatedly, the elder children have been asked to properly fold garments when they wish to use the laundry machines and must remove others’ clothing. Repeatedly, they do not do this, which ends in repetitive frustration and fury for the benefactor. After seeing the laundry haphazardly splayed in a basket, the benefactor marched upstairs and knocked incessantly on the elder male’s open door, whilst he lies in bed pretending he did not hear her. Finally, she heaved a jingle bell in his direction, which prompted him to sit up, acting as if he had not noticed the continuous rapping for the past several minutes (she has heard him complain easily when lesser sounds are created). She reminded him of his responsibility, while he argued that he was seeking additional sleep. The benefactor then issued the ultimatum that should the clothes remain uncared for, he would be forced to carry his laundry and pay to clean them elsewhere. She knew he would have plenty of time, as he often spends a chunk of minutes sitting in front of the media box prior to school.
After finally piling the younger offspring into the transportation machine and beginning their journey, the younger male realized that he had forgotten his instrument at home, and having band instruction this morning, would likely be heavily penalized. The benefactor, not happy with such circumstances of irresponsibility, reversed their trail and returned to retrieve the clarinet. However, seeing as how the younger male is merely ten, she assured him that mistakes happen, although he needed to make a greater effort in the future toward remembering his essentials for his educational day.
After school, while the younger female partook in vocal lessons, the younger male and benefactor traveled home to finish some work. As the benefactor did calisthenics, the younger male skulked around the kitchen, opening doors and continually attempting to sneak various treats under the benefactor’s watchful eye. Finally, she consented to him eating some specialty crackers, with the promise he would still enjoy his evening meal.
They picked up the younger female, and returned to their abode to have repast. The younger male ensured the benefactor he was VERY hungry. She served them, and they sat and chatted about the day’s activities. Four bites into his meal, the younger male suddenly became full. He claimed it was due to the hearty nature of the meal, but the benefactor was 100% sure it was all the snacks he likely acquired with stealth.
In the evening, the children decorated for the upcoming festival of Hallow’s Eve. ‘Decorated’ was, at first, a loose term, as they spent 40 minutes barely sifting through the supplies while maintaining eye contact with the media box. Finally, the benefactor put their watching on pause, so that they could focus on the task at hand. With clarity, they threw themselves into making the table a festive display of all things spooky, which made all their hearts happy.
Twas a difficult couple of days for the benefactor and her elder offspring. Communication was subpar, and many a disagreement erupted over responsibilities and actions. It stressful for all involved. The end of the weekend finally seemed to bring an element of relief, and a neutral place for all parties to finally, begrudgingly, begin to agree on select terms.
Topics on hand for these negotiations:
All of these, were indeed, valid issues to be discussed. Deliberations were intense. There were moments of conciliation, and moments of staunch blame directed at anyone but the person who should shoulder said blame. Yet, in the end, a tacit agreement to do better was reached for all those involved, including some very clear directives on who was responsible for certain chores.
Sunday, after much debate and arguing, the younger progeny finally allowed the benefactor to prepare a late afternoon meal for their benefit. The younger male adamantly argued against the benefactor’s choice of meal, with the younger female simply agreeing with him to follow along. With them occupied in separate quarters, the meal preparation was much more fluid and peaceful. In the end, when sitting down to nourishment, the younger male heaped praise on the benefactor for her delicious, vegetarian chili, as she suspected he would. After eating, they finally settled into a quiet calm, sitting and partaking in a media box moving picture about a comic Captain named after his unmentionables. Great fun was had by both.
On Monday, the benefactor again had the younger progeny at her employment in the afternoon, being spared the morning shift. Per usual, they immediately began half-bickering, half-drilling the benefactor with questions upon their arrival. Finally, in the office space, the children were directed to activities that would occupy their imagination and time, namely reading and assignments. This allowed them to settle and quiet at last, so that the benefactor, too, could work. Still, it was a lengthy few hours to entertain their sprightly and active souls, and eventually their chattering selves could no longer remain still nor quiet. They spread out amongst the office space, concocting daydreams and imaginations. Despite the chatter, the benefactor was grateful for their mutual occupation, and secretly enjoyed listening to their inventiveness in the background.
Yesterday, after a day of servitude, the benefactor acquired the younger children from their day of instruction, and they made their way to the general store to gather some supplies. As usual, the younger male asked at every turn if the benefactor would purchase him something, anything really, to which she repetitively, like a broken vinyl, answered no. It has become a game where he lies in wait in the off chance the benefactor gets so perturbed that she says yes just to silence his requests.
On the other hand, the younger female was her sweetest self, first complimenting the benefactor on her style of dress, then her hair, and then her shoes. Finally, she just sighed and told the benefactor that she was just perfect. The benefactor enveloped her small body in her arms. She warmed the benefactor’s heart immensely and made the experience of shopping a pleasure for once.
Whence they arrived home, the children were and the youngest male began to build with his plastic blocks, creating three different ships over the next two hours. The younger female remembered that the benefactor had promised to paint with her. Although the benefactor was tired, the younger female would have no excuses, and insisted that they make art. Slowly they gathered their canvases, paints, brushes, easels, and palettes. The two went outside in the cool autumn night and began to create. The younger female painted a gorgeous, pink pumpkin, while the benefactor made a more complex, abstract piece based on women’s rights. It was lovely bonding.
The elder children meanwhile, were entrenched in various scandals and drama, which they hurled at the benefactor in choppy storytelling. It was all she could do to keep up. Then they both went their separate ways to communicate with their acquaintances all the different gossip and problems of the day.
The benefactor ushered the younger female up to bed, reading a story and tucking her in close. Not soon after, the younger male followed. He wanted to know what the benefactor’s painting stood for. When she told him it represented the ways that patriarchy damage the spirit of women, he sat thoughtful for a second, then said, ‘okay’, and closed his eyes. Hopefully his dreams will be filled of ways that he will grow into a feminist.
Today, the children were eager to do absolutely nothing. They arrived home in the evening, stripping off their uniforms and then lounged in the living room, only half dressed. The benefactor prepared a meal, and they ate quietly as the benefactor painted. They then found enough momentum to argue over the media box, until the benefactor stepped in and decided for them watch would be their entertainment.
Whence it was time for bed, and the benefactor had finished her art, the younger female came up to her and said, “It reminds me of my heart. When I love, my heart just shines from the inside.” And the benefactor’s heart melted into a pool of nondescript adoration on the spot.
Earlier this week, the children accompanied the benefactor to work out of necessity. The younger male woke early, excited by the prospect of a day spent watching the portable, media box, and doing a lot of nothing. The younger female, on the other hand, did not have a gentle entrance into the morning, spontaneously crying as she had to dress.
When they arrived at the benefactor’s employment, the children took over her space, as they are wont to do. As the benefactor was late for a staff gathering, the children were left to their own devices, hopefully to read. Part miracle, they only attempted communication with the benefactor once, when she was already returning. However, upon arriving, the benefactor was informed by the younger male that his sibling had begun threatening his life, for which she cried and apologized. Apparently, during active play, the younger male ripped her stuffed lobster in three different locations, a very upsetting event. Although he apologized, she was not satisfied with his response, and felt it necessary to plot physical harm.
During the afternoon meal, the benefactor took them to the medical dining hall to acquire sustenance. Both decided that they desired flatbread with cheese. Of course, the younger male selected the last piece decorated with pepperoni, and the younger female was unhappy that she was stuck with a mere, plain option. While eating, the younger male incited a game of ‘burns’ where he creates insults meant to be amusing, despite being told repeatedly to not engage in this behavior. It therefore gave the benefactor delight when the younger female successfully managed to utter a line that bested the younger male’s efforts, leaving him to sit in silence: “you are so fat, cows walk away from you”.
That evening, the children plotted telepathically to unnerve the benefactor, beginning with the younger male refusing to listen when being asked to help with certain tasks, or eating his evening repast. Slowly, the irritation fanned as the benefactor, attempting to gather the younger children for bed, had to contend with the elder children exploding with fits of laughter, which only fueled the antics of the younger children. Twasn’t until the benefactor finally elevated her voice to a level of seriousness that the children finally fell silent, and meagerly agreed to listen.
After putting the younger children to bed, the elder male and benefactor had an in-depth conversation about electromagnetic waves, and how they are a part of our daily lives, which was part of his educational studies. Specifically, he was surprised by the number of people who did not realize that a microwave was powered by such energy. It was then brought to the benefactor’s attention by the elder female that she had never known how the appliance worked, simply believing that food heated itself when put in the magic box.
The next morning, the air was frigid from the season’s first frost, the moving vehicle covered in matted, white crystal. Trying to be helpful, the younger male planted himself at the windows, rubbing the frozen water with the sleeve of his winter coat. Too tired to argue so early in the morning, the benefactor merely elevated the heat source, and let him feel accomplished, as she and the younger female rested comfortably in the car.
Today the benefactor became increasingly frustrated with most of the children. Each, in their own way and at separate times, had determined that this should be a day of rebellion. The elder male felt slighted that he was asked to assist with extra chores in exchange for permission to be a guest at an acquaintance’s home. This was followed by the elder female, who became upset that the benefactor, having made the same requests a multitude of times, was frustrated in voice and tone. This led to calling the benefactor a name that perhaps should never be uttered if the elder female desires to live (rhyming with ‘itch’). Then the younger male complained, as he is wont to do on a daily basis, about having any sort of chore responsibility in any form or fashion. He then attempted to eat both chocolate and cookies, insisting that since he brought them with them, he should be able to ingest them at any given point. This led to his first trip to his bedroom for reflective time. Only the youngest female did what she was asked with openness and nary a side eye. However, she became distraught later in the morning whence she felt her throat was ill, and her carefully prepared tea had not yet cooled to the proper temperature.
In order to maintain any semblance of sanity, the benefactor busied herself in the kitchen, cooking a delightful dinner, as well as a variety of baked goods for the children. She served the special meal with gusto, hoping for some semblance of contentment. The youngest female dilly dallied, almost refusing to try part of the dish simply due to its appearance. Meanwhile, her sibling, under the guise of getting water, abandoned his dinner to tear hunks of the benefactor’s beautiful, baked bread by hand and stuff it in his mouth, caught by the elder female. This landed him in his second retreat to his bedroom for the day. Surprisingly, the elder female ate happily and without complaint, actually gracing the others with her usually invisible presence.
After some time had passed, the younger male approached the benefactor with apology, and asked if he may assist with making a new batch of bread to replace that which he had tarnished. The benefactor enveloped him in a hug and agreed that sometime this week he could be her helper.
The elder female has primarily been ill, having acquired some form of infection from her schoolmates. She forgot to inform the benefactor that she would be staying home today, which caused alarm when her place of education called the benefactor inquiring about the lack of her presence. Later, she communicated to the benefactor excitement that she found a moving picture about vampires that she did not know they owned. The benefactor reminded her that it was, in fact, a holiday gift for the elder female from three years ago, of which the elder female had no recollection. Hopefully the elder female’s excitement will help her health so she may return to regular life sooner than later.
This week has been a rollercoaster for all of us, navigating the ebb and flow of the days. It has been frustrating for the benefactor, who has often felt as if she speaks to ghosts. Apparently, only the youngest female can see her. On multiple occasions, she has asked for the children to complete specific chores, only to have them stare at her in a blank stupor, as if she asked them to perform high level arithmetic in their head while balancing on one foot. The result is a never-ending litany of requests that go unanswered until the benefactor rightly becomes vexed. In particular, it drives her mad when the elder children leave piles of washed and dried laundry on top of the machines, allowing it to sit quietly in the dark, for weeks. At last count, she reminded the elder female to remove her clothes 7 times. Then, when she perhaps asks in a tone that is less than congenial, she is brazenly asked to ‘chill’. It makes the benefactor ponder if the elder children, specifically, truly desire a shorter life. On the other hand, the younger female is still untainted by such apathy. Generally, she eagerly helps, going above and beyond, such as bravely emptying her brother’s pants pockets to assist with the wash. However, she even revolted this week, highly upset that the benefactor had the gall to separate her socks before washing them, as she had to sift through clothes to find them right before she prepared to leave for school.
Yet not all is lost. The younger male brought the benefactor a gift of picked flowers, all his own motivation. She was quite touched by the gesture. Sensing her possible ascent to full fury, the elder male also provided sweet overtures, buying the benefactor a specialized holiday wine flute, and building her a fire. The thoughtfulness was only slightly complicated by the fact that he still builds fires improperly, with paper placed under wood in flat sheets, and large chunks of burning ash were carried into the air, at which point the benefactor reminded him his method is not safe when living in the desert. Again, for the third or fourth time (she’s lost count), she demonstrated how the fire was to be created so as not to burn down their surroundings. However, she appreciated the kindness and thought that came from the elder male’s heart, which, in the end, matters most.
Ahh, the chill of the air and crisp blue sky indicated that autumn descended with a whoosh. To celebrate, the benefactor planned to trip into the forest to examine the metallic, shivering leaves of the Aspen trees. While the benefactor readied ingredients for the evening’s dinner, we were asked to organize ourselves and make sure we were appropriately dressed. Apparently, even this was asking too much, as one of us forgot a jacket, and we left our home 45 minutes later than our original time of departure for no good reason, the benefactor gathering only 3 out of the 4 of us at any given time.
The drive through the mountains was glorious, the trees putting on a fantastic show of fall gold. After a slight argument between the benefactor and the eldest female regarding who should control the musical content for the journey (the benefactor thought it best to just concede for the moment), the trip proceeded smoothly to the ski basin.
Once there, the elder children convinced the benefactor that perhaps they should go on a short hike to an aspen meadow. Even though the initial descent from the road worried the younger children, the benefactor consented, and they made their made into the forest. Not having spent a comfortable amount of time with nature, the youngest female was thoroughly convinced that she was: A. Going to die, and that B. This would happen at the hands of a bear. Every twinging or cracking branch was a signal that eminent danger approached. The elder children did not help by telling her that should a bear approach, they would sit her and the younger male on their shoulders to make themselves appear larger while hoping for the best. It calmed no one.
As was his habit, the younger male complained nonstop, mumbling how the elder children kept dangling them with the prospect of the meadow being, ‘very close’. He also was very concerned with his brand new, white sneakers that were now sloshing through damp ground. However, after thirty minutes of trampling through the woods off trail, the benefactor began to understand and commiserate with his frustration. The younger male also kept stopping to gather objects, pawning them off for the benefactor to carry as his parting gifts for home, including bark from a tree hit by lightning, moss, a plant resembling bamboo, and a large salt stone. Eventually she had to put her foot down and declare that no more would be taken, as she had run out of arm space.
Finally, after what seemed like an endless journey, the benefactor and children crossed over into what was simply a sublime, uninhibited, and beautiful blank field surrounded by Aspens. They posed for photos and picked flowers. Eventually, as they always do, the males ended up in a javelin contest, throwing the younger male’s sharp walking stick through the air at each other. Whence the benefactor gave them the stare of certain death, they finally ceased. She was more frightening than the possibility of a bear.
The younger children finally seemed at ease with their surroundings, until a raspy sound from a bush triggered them to fear a potential rattlesnake. They did not take solace in the fact that the sound did not return, nor that the elder female was almost certain the noise was given off by a nearby bird.
While hiking back, the younger female became the only casualty of the day, losing her balance on the rocks, and then later tripping over a stick. With the second, the benefactor merely held her in her arms and told her to cry until she felt ready to walk. After several minutes, she dried her tears, put on a look of determination, and pretty much forgot she was injured.
The only contentious moment came when they reached the car and realized they would not have time to explore the ski basin, which for the younger children strictly meant scavenging for food. Only after the benefactor swore to stop by their favorite general store to gather some light snacks did they finally agree to get into the car. Ten minutes into the drive they were fast asleep.
Arriving home, after obtaining their favorite nibbles, the children gathered around the media box to relax as the benefactor curled up outside in warm blankets upon her soft hammock to read. She reflected on the beauty of the day, and how blessed they were to live in such a pulchritudinous environment. She inhaled the scent of fall’s sweet surrender, and felt her heart expand as high as the sky.
With secrecy, the youngest female pulled the benefactor aside and showed her a ring she had begun wearing. “I’m married, she pronounced.” “You are, to who?” the benefactor inquired. “Her name is mommy, and we have been together 800 years.” This exchange delightfully warmed the benefactor’s heart, even though she inwardly felt like 800 years was far too short to love such a glorious being.
The benefactor allowed us to build a fire and commence a wild rumpus in the backyard. Against her better judgement, this included baking marshmallows over the fire with sticks, and making candy cookie sandwiches. Earlier, when at the general store seeking supplies, the younger male almost relinquished this privilege for all the children with incessant badgering for items that could not distinguish as a want from a need. However, he pulled it together in just enough time to not lose the special occasion treat.
After the fire, it was a long process for the benefactor to wrangle the children to bed, their veins surging with sugary goodness. First, she read a book to the younger female about a girl dressed as a ladybug and her grasshopper companion. Then, the younger male dragged out his volume of Shakespeare and the benefactor read one Act, which finally seem to push the small people into the entrance for the world of dreams. Thank you to the bard for heavy, circadian language.
Except the younger male only pretended to sleep, whilst the benefactor was busy tidying up after them. The older female ratted him out, making the benefactor aware that he was reading in the dark. Aside from a lecture on how he would be driving himself to soon need spectacles, the benefactor made it clear that there was to be no reading past bedtime, even though this felt like a welcome challenge for the benefactor to be handling.
The next morning, the benefactor received communication from the elder female that she had left her key to the homestead in the home. The benefactor also learned that the elder male has been missing his key for months now. Explaining to the elder female that her schedule did not allow for her to deliver a spare key, the benefactor was met with a litany of responses that all pretty much ended with the sentiment of ‘you don’t care about us’. Frustrated, the benefactor explained that she cared so much that she needed the elder children to find a solution to their self-created problem. They were given the choice of finding transportation to the benefactor’s employment, or waiting until she finished late in the evening. While the benefactor was teaching, the elder children took initiative to secure transportation and obtained the necessary entry object. They both survived their mild ordeal, and should be the better for it, as the benefactor has no intention of following them throughout their lives with extra keys.
Sunday was a hearty day for the younger children and the benefactor. The younger children kicked off the afternoon with a quiet reading hour, as the benefactor dressed. When ready, the benefactor journeyed to town square with the children, planning to visit the library and nearby café. Everything was going well until they passed the café, and the younger female began a desperate plead to stop for gelato before gathering books. Tears were shed. It did not matter that they planned on stopping after, merely that they were not stopping NOW. Once she began breathing again, the younger female apologized for her outburst.
In the library, the reverberation of drums sounded throughout, which lent a sense of irony. The children and benefactor made their way upstairs to select books, which began the first negotiation of the day for the younger male, who insisted on getting a specific number of graphic novels, whilst the benefactor had a different number in mind. Thus kicked off several minutes of haggling until an agreement was reached. While the younger male picked out his selections, the younger female and benefactor cozied up in a rocking chair to read.
After the library, they finally made their way to the café, where the children were delighted to pick out two flavors of gelato for consumption. The younger male went with a confident root beer and vanilla mix, while the younger female chose root beer and watermelon, which she later classified as having a ‘weird’ flavor. They sat outside, enjoying the crisp fall air, until the younger female lobbied to advance down the street to be in the direct sunlight, winning her plea.
Once home, the younger female told the benefactor she made her a book and a sheet of ‘emotions’. The book, she described, was a book of happiness for the benefactor to look at if she felt sad. The paper was to be used to determine her feelings. The benefactor was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness.
The elder children were MIA all day. Having spent the evening with companions, one of whom was moving overseas, the benefactor tried in vain to contain the older children. They finally arrived home in the early evening, having been on grueling two-hour hike, looking utterly exhausted and miserable. The benefactor felt perhaps this was punishment enough for the moment. In fact, the elder male was so weary that he merely showered and lay down for a short ‘rest’, not seen again for the evening.
The benefactor asked the younger male to assist with preparing the ingredients for a special vegetable bread. His one task was to remove the peel of a zucchini. Instead, he took almost half the zucchini flesh with it, claiming he thought the zucchini could not have any green remaining. In jest, he commented that he gave it a ‘circumcision’, where the benefactor had to greater explain the procedure so understood exactly what he had attempted to quip. He then spent 30 minutes searching for his graphic novel, which he misplaced on the baking shelf in his haste to assist, even though he incessantly claimed he placed it somewhere he did not. In light of his stubborn insistence, the benefactor feigned ignorance of its location.
It was a lovely dinner and evening, peaceful and lingering. The benefactor felt an enormous sense of gratitude and bliss for such good company, and for such a pleasing day.
The benefactor and younger children took an outdoor jaunt for circulation and to exercise the canine. Midway through, the sky, already slate and brooding, split and began to drip down upon them. In the midst of returning back to the homestead, a stray cat began to pursue the canine, forcing the benefactor to eventually pick up the small, scared mutt and carry her home. Upon their return, the benefactor prepared a meal, and a special, icy concoction known as ‘frozen hot cocoa’. All of the children sat in quiet happiness, slowly sipping their dessert.
The next day, the benefactor and younger children returned home to find a variety of items curiously scattered amidst the dining room, including a machine used to smooth wrinkles from cloth. The benefactor began an inquisition into the strange mess when the elder children arrived home. The elder male, upon arrival, announced that he had burned his torso, displaying a small, red welt upon his stomach. This led the benefactor to ask if he had attempted to steam the wrinkles out of the fabric as he wore his shirt. After several firm denials, and with giggly embarrassment, he finally hung his head to confess that he had, in fact, used himself as a steam rack. This left the benefactor stymied and shaking her head in silence. Her faith in his future survival continues to diminish.
In the morning, there was indecision and infighting. The youngest female, asked to wake the younger male with gentle quiet, peacefully entered his room and yelled for him to rise at the top of her lungs, waking the entire household. Affronted by her noisy ways, the younger male hid under a blanket to protect himself from her onslaught. The benefactor stepped at precisely the perfect moment before the situation spiraled out of control. After managing to dress themselves, the pair then meandered downstairs in search of sustenance, both deciding they wanted the exact same hot cereal, for which the ration was low. A heated argument ensued, and the benefactor had to step as negotiator for distribution. In the end, the younger child conceded the breakfast in exchange for an extra snack.
Before rushing to be on their way, the youngest female wrapped her arms around the benefactor, just to share affection and joy. She pulled a plastic ring emblazoned with a superhero symbol from her pocket, and told the benefactor to keep it, ‘to remember her always’. The benefactor assured her she was indeed impossible to forget. It is moments like this that remind the benefactor that in the midst of such chaos and storm that rainbows thrive.
Our Sunday started off with its usual, meandering pace. The benefactor took the younger children to procure the week’s necessities, and they arrived back to the homestead with sacks of items to be organized. Per usual, the elder children watched them bring in the goods, and with blank stares, merely sat in self-absorbed stupors. Finally, the elder male snapped from his reverie to assist with the task of putting items away.
After helping to empty a single sack, the elder male decided he was famished, and attempted to make himself a bowl of hot oats. Reading the cooking instructions, he saw 2/3 cups as a direction of 2-3 cups, and grossly overestimated the amount of liquid required. Thankfully the benefactor caught his egregious error, and saved him from steaming oat soup.
Whilst the benefactor was busy preparing the evening repast, the younger male took it upon himself to create an excavation site in the backyard, creating a shallow grave where he searched in vain for dinosaur bones that would never be there. The younger female chimed in unsolicited, informing the benefactor that they planned to bury her head in the hole when she died later in life, which clearly struck an anxious cord in the benefactor. The youngest male became heated when asked to refill his handy work in the morning so that no one would fall in the yard and potentially be severely injured, or worse, face potential decapitation.
Meanwhile, the other children were tasked with tidying their personal living spaces, particularly the female den. After a short time, music erupted and heavy footfalls could be heard shaking the ceiling. Sighing, the benefactor prepared to explore what chaos had sprung forth when three children ran into the kitchen for an impromptu dance celebration, quickly departing as fast as they entered. They moved on to disrupt the younger male, who had zero interest in partaking in the festivities and made it explicitly clear to his siblings, being required to apologize for his harsh tone.
In the evening, the benefactor made a unilateral decision that dessert would not be an option, after an onslaught of bickering and arguing amongst all those under the age of 18. This was met with great disappointment and eye rolling. The younger children were shuffled off to prepare for bed. After readying for sleep, the youngest female found shut eye immediately. The elder male and benefactor undertook reading a volume of Shakespeare, presented with images created by molded brick characters. Much to her surprise, the elder male maintained wakefulness and paid rapt attention.
Today, the younger children and benefactor returned home to discover lights left on, and a variety of household chores incomplete. When the elder children came home, they defended their inability to fold freshly dried towels, amongst other things. The benefactor was highly peeved, and made it very explicit what the expectations were in exchange for their ability to live a mildly carefree existence without having to provide exclusively for themselves. Clearly struck with a death wish, the elder male puffed his chest and opted to sully himself in an argument he had no hope of winning. In the end, the benefactor chose to allow him to exist, for which he showed his gratitude by completing many of the remaining chores without being nagged. Perhaps he is teachable after all.
The benefactor and younger children returned home after a long day of mental exertion, only to find the house in utter disarray. The elder children, in their haste to depart in the morning, overlooked the importance of preserving electricity, leaving four lamps blazing, perhaps in case they feared the sun might die when they were out of the house. A fan was left churning, twirling the empty air for nobody. Lastly, the canine did not greet them as usual, her barking distant and muffled, finally found accidentally locked in the elder female’s room for almost 9 hours. After her release, she sat quiet for hours, mulling over her captivity.
Preparing the evening feast, the benefactor received communication that the elder male had wrongly assumed he was an independent adult, and had made a unilateral decision to attend supper at another child's home without consulting her first. He responded with flippant justification, but the benefactor made it clear that his decision was not favorable, and gave him a specific timeline for returning before consequences were issued. As usual, he did not meet his deadline, and will suffer 14 days of nonstop family interaction at home.
Next morning, the younger children rose like the walking dead. The youngest female was adamant that she did not have the uniform shirt required, despite the benefactor recently giving her said shirts in a pile of fresh laundry. She scoffed the benefactor, until opening her drawer to discover the exact shirts in question, at which point she issued an immediate apology.
The younger male and female sat on the settee after breakfast, debating the merits of doing their instructional practice directly after their school day ended versus later in the evening. As the younger male put it eloquently: “You want to do it right after school. I didn’t do that last year, and I was a hot mess.” Sage advice from the mouth of babes.
In the evening, the children were charged with showering as the benefactor prepared their meal. The benefactor grew suspicious when the youngest female’s shower lasted approximately 3.7 minutes, even though she insisted she had properly bathed. However, the top of her hair remained dry and warranted her returning to the water to actually use soap. After cleansing, the males got into a bickering argument about where the younger male should perform his evening musical practice, as the elder male became vexed when the younger male initiated in the common area while the elder male watched the media box. The benefactor decided to let them tease out their own disagreement, the younger male eventually moving upstairs, heavily sulking. He soon returned downstairs, curling into a ball on the couch, hugging his canine companion for comfort.
All was quiet until the youngest female woke from a fright late in the evening, and attempted to stumble down the shadowy staircase in search of something imaginary. Thankfully the benefactor heard her cries and could redirect her back to her bed to sleep. Of course, the benefactor then struggled with wakefulness, laying wide eyed and wondering until eventually slipping into repose in the wee hours of the morning.
Bleary eyed, the benefactor woke the next morning to prepare breakfast. The usual 'I don't want breakfast dance' she engaged with the younger male commenced. He eventually capitulated and agreed to a bowl of dried rice cereal. After giving it him, the benefactor watched as he did everything but eat: picking up the mutt, wandering outside, pretending to gather things he wasn't really getting upstairs. As they prepared to leave, his bowl remained full, and the benefactor insisted on some ingestion. He bulked, and argued, eventually agreeing to eat half, while in between bites he outlined his plan to become a constitutional lawyer and eventual Supreme Court justice. God help us all.
This weekend was a flurry of activity. The benefactor schlepped us to a procession of four legged and other creatures, adorned in costume and toted via wagon and other movable devices. We arrived early to stake out a prime location from which to view the festivities. Our benefactor kindly prepared eggs wrapped in tortillas, and procured fresh pastry from a local café with the assistance of the two younger children. The elder children were aghast that the younger children received twisted, cinnamon pastries whilst they merely received still warm croissants. Unable to hide her disdain, the benefactor rolled her eyes at the complaint. Otherwise, twas an exciting and engaging event, especially for our small pooch, who fell asleep on the floor of our moving vehicle on the way back to our abode.
That evening, the benefactor escorted the elder children to a film house to view a moving picture about a terrifying clown. The benefactor purchased popped corn and refreshing brewed tea to share, while the elder female balked at eating mere hand snacks. Once in the theater, the benefactor sat between the two, watching the reactions as the story progressed. Gripping his seat, the elder males sat in tense suspension during the entire picture, while the female was an impassive stone. At one point, the elder male looked at the benefactor and questioned why the female was not frightened, to which the benefactor had no response. After, they journeyed home to watch the media box, engaging in the original version of the one they had just viewed at the theater, the children falling asleep.
Yesterday, the younger children and the benefactor tackled acquiring groceries and necessities, while the elder children were given a task list for the homestead. After whining incessantly, the younger children agreed to be cooperative in exchange for a refreshing beverage from the general store. Not above bribery, the benefactor was happy to consent. Having gathered their needs for the week, the children and benefactor came home, and the younger children negotiated their services cleaning the moving vehicle in exchange for a cold dessert. Immediately, the benefactor sent them to work, clearing the dirt and residue as best as they were able. Two hours later, they completed the task and were paid as decided in frozen confectionery.
Come evening, the younger children were difficult to wrangle for bedtime, leading the benefactor to question if confectionery was a good idea. The elder children only postponed sleep for everyone by continually talking and arguing with their younger siblings. It wasn’t until the benefactor threatened the removal of their nighttime ‘tuck’, that the younger progeny finally settled for the night, and peace, at least, descended upon them all.