Don't most families have some level of dysfunction? I mean, if we truly dissected birth order tendencies, dynamics within, and varying degrees of toleration, wouldn't we find families that are 100% in-every-sense-of-the-word hurtful, dysfunctional, and slightly corrupt? But we still travel across the country to get together, change our plans to accommodate the masses, and get feisty and defensive when someone-anyone- else tries to "wrong" them. Families are crazy, annoying, frustrating, get-under-our-skin-to-the-point-of-growling....and yet, they are comforting in our time of need, restorative to our damaged souls, the ones with whom we share our best laughs, and the ones with whom we can truly be ourselves.
Holidays can truly be stressful; we step on each others' toes, the kids get too loud and rowdy, differing parenting styles run a muck, and somebody always eats the last piece of dessert on-the-slye. So why do we continue to stretch our budget, change our schedules, and travel great distances to deliberately entangle ourselves with those people that can drive us crazy? Because there is something about family ties and the comfort of home. The memories and experiences we gain from those visits are priceless, precious, and purposeful.
I would like to venture to a past Christmas...one filled with light-hearted joy and jovial spirits. Every Christmas my siblings and our respective spouses (and now gaggle of kiddos) gather at my parents' farm for festivities, traditions, and generally good times creating memories and laughter. My two oldest boys were the only grandchildren at the time, and #2- well he was in the process of learning how to do 1 and 2 like a big boy. For some reason he was commando under his swishy pants during a round of present opening. I actually think we were doing birthday presents for #1 right after Christmas (he was born right after Christmas so often it gets celebrated while everyone is home for the holidays).
Let me paint a picture for you so you can really "see" the debacle that is about to happen. Grandma and Grandpa had recently added a huge addition to the house complete with all the bells and whistles...and carpeting. Having worked very hard to be able to get this remodel, my parents were more than a little protective. So kiddos were on high alert not to spill, drop, or knock anything over onto "Grandma's new floor".
Ok back to excited little boys with gifts calling their names. So as not to hurt poor little #2's feelings, Grandma made sure he had a present to open, too...even if it was, technically, #1's birthday. With unwrapped gift in hand, he joyfully played with his cool new G.I Joe off to the side while #1 frantically ripped through his mountain of gifts (have I mentioned that Grandma spoils?) I must say, no one was really paying little #2 any attention until from somewhere behind the gifts someone mentions the discovery of a suspicious pile of something on "Grandma's new floor"! The room erupted into a frenzy as the rumor was proven to be true when #2 moved his little foot...stepping into the poo mushing it further into the carpet and sprinkling some more little pebbles, to boot! All hell broke loose.Grandparents panicking, mother scurrying, toddler scared and now crying, aunts and uncles giggling uncontrollably, daddy hiding behind the tower of gifts so as not to be noticed and asked to help....and highly prized, designer puppy belonging to my brother and his wife comes dashing around the corner to snatch and gobble up the "treat"!
Adults of all ages are reacting in all kinds of inappropriate emotions. Auntie N is still laughing too the point of pants-peeing, Uncle K is gagging because puppy is still trying to eat more poo, Uncle T is frantic and panicked because precious puppy just...ate...poo, Auntie S is directing Uncle T to rescue her puppy, Gram and Gramps are not enthused with anything that is going down in their house, daddy is STILL not offering suggestion or help, and poor mommy is frazzled (and slightly panicked at the now prospect of being disowned and thrown out into the snow...poopy #2 and all).
No sympathy or help was offered as mommy juggled poopy kiddo in one arm and paper towel and carpet cleaner in the other as people demanded that the mess be cleaned even though the giggles and gagging continued. But every time I turned, little #2 dropped more poo out the bottom of his pants! The horrified look on the Grandparents faces was no laughing matter...at the time. And Aunt S and Uncle T were more than displeased that their pooch just munched on-and really seemed to enjoy- and golf ball sized chunk of toddler poo.
With little #2 now stripped of his apparel, he was shoved, without compassion or empathy, under the not-even-warmed-up-yet shower by the finally-engaged daddy to wash the remnants of the assaulting poo down the drain. All the while, guffaws, snickers and chuckling could still be heard echoing from the other room. Puppy has now been restrained...and given a treat to clean her teeth and breath. Grandma and Grandpa are meticulously inspecting possible damage and directing the clean up efforts. And poor #1 is upset because birthday present opening has been interrupted with no sign of its eventual commencement.
Eventually the laughter, horror, and resentment subsided, and the birthday bash was able to be continued. Forgiveness has since been granted, although some still struggled to find the humor in the traumatic event.
All in all, no child -or designer puppy, for that matter- was hurt in the making of this treasured family memory.