It was a rather quick trip, made so by my chauffeur’s driving antics the previous week. The deer is fine. The girlfriend is fine. The boy is fine. The car is sort of drive-able but required $$$ repairs. His next two or three paychecks will be coming to me instead of going into his project car. Not quite how he imagined his summer. Me either. It scared him, losing control on a gravel road. I’m glad. It was a good, injury free, wallet painful, way to learn. It’s also the first time his actions have had an unpleasant effect on the rest of the people who live with him. That was good for him too.
I spent most of my three days in Thermopolis, Wyoming, people watching. It’s the other grandparents, the other aunts and uncles, and I was able to sit and listen. My little family is geographically remote from any relatives. The closest living twelve hours away. In fact, this is the closest we’ve lived to relatives since the boy was five. As we all gather from here and there at the local motel, it takes less than an hour for me to remember why I love the remote, drama-free prairies of North Dakota.
I’ve given lots of thought to the politics in big families. I’ve read about birth order, about emotionally stunted parents, about abuse and neglect. I’ve taken into consideration that adoption seriously colors my vision. I’m old enough to know that interpersonal is all kinds of complicated, especially in a family with ten children. This is what I don’t understand–
Parents who believe they can always be fair.
Parents who consistently side/choose the in-law over their own children.
The one or two siblings to whom on-time has no meaning.
That one kid who can never do what everyone else does. Can’t stay at the same hotel, can’t swim at the hot spring, can’t be bothered to watch his/her own children.
Kids who cannot care any less about how much time or money their parents put in to plan this. Kids who don’t stop to think, this odd little place is a hidden treasure to mom and dad. Kids who never think to say thank you.
Adult siblings who have to be assigned separate housing because they can’t be together for five minutes without screaming fights.
Siblings, adult siblings, who think after twenty plus years, they can shock you with their newly discovered hobbies, atheism, politics, sex play.
The battle for mom and dad’s attention. Really? Still?
The lack of manners that becomes suddenly acceptable because we’re all family here
It seems to me, that if I only get to see you once every year or two, I might be able to hold my tongue and my temper. I might smile instead of smirk, I might be a little more tolerant, laugh at the jokes, let the kids stay up late and don’t take personally every comment made.
I might except, well, we’re all family here.