So. The reunion-thingie on Saturday. Where to begin? How to tell you all about it?
Oh! I know!
Let’s start with how all of these people in my family—most of whom I didn’t know existed until this weekend—Have been READING THIS BLOG unbeknownst to me and courtesy of a cousin who sent EVERYONE the link. They were all SUPER! And PRETTY! All of them! I swear! And they promised not to read the entries about my boobs!
Actually, they really were all great, otherwise that might be, well, you know, awkward. Still. Newfound relations. Reading the blog. Not that I’m bitter about none of them piping up with a comment, or anything. (Do you see? You can take the girl out of Judaism, but you cannot take the guilt-tripping abilities out of the girl….)
Anyway. We found our way to the gorgeous home of some cousins who live about an hour from here. I’ve lived in New England (and an hour or less away from them) for 10 years, and we’d never met before. This makes me incredibly sad, because they have a pool. What? I said, because they were cool. Ahem.
Here is what I began to realize, as the day wore on and I met more people to whom I am related: These people are my family. Not just that we’re related. I mean, yes, THAT. Obviously. But there were snappy comebacks. There was sarcasm. There were zingers and ribbing and it became clear that I did not develop my sense of humor in a vacuum. (Not that I thought I had. My dad is a pretty funny guy. But little did I realize he comes from a clan of funny people.)
There was also an awful lot of good food, and if there’s anything I like better than some witty repartee, it’s eating. (Good conversation over mountains of yummy food? Nirvana.)
Some of these people are funny on purpose, and some of them were just funny because they couldn’t help it. I can’t be naming any names, you know—even though, HELLO ALL MY RELATIVES READING THIS, YOU ALL KNOW WHO THIS WAS—at one point I witnessed the following:
A man who shall not be named watched a young woman swirl into the room, dressed to the nines, on her way out. This man then commented to the man next to him, “Wow, Girl sure grew up to be HOT!”
The problem? First, that the man making the comment is her uncle. Second, that the man he made this statement to is his brother… and Girl’s father.
That’s, like, a whole new level of knee-slapping, cringe-worthy humor. (I wanted to cringe. But I was laughing too hard.)
So as I spent my day listening to conversations and learning who’s where and doing what and how much we have in common or don’t, and in the meantime, another interesting thing was happening at the same time.
My kids were the only children in attendance. They swam and chased the dog and “played wiffleball” (if you can call throwing or hitting the ball into the pool, repeatedly, and then trying to fish it out with a raft, wiffleball) and ran in circles…
… and were fussed over and spoiled by all of the adults in attendance, who all seemed to think they were the most wonderful children in the entire world.
I’m not going to lie. It’s been a LONG summer around here. Chickadee in particular is having a rough time remembering to treat those around her with kindness and manners rather than simply spinning her head around and ejecting acid from her second set of mandibles into the face of anyone in her way. It’s POSSIBLE that I have been taking my children a teensy bit for granted, or even feeling somewhat weary of them at times.
To watch my children through fresh eyes was fascinating. They were not on their BEST behavior (although, now that I think of it, I’m not really sure if I’ve ever SEEN their best behavior, or if it’s just some concept in my mind), but they did okay. There were a few “I’m bored”s and “what do we do NOW”s and maybe I hollered a few times for them to stay away from the edge of the pool and then announced to no one in particular that if they fell in, I wasn’t even sure that I was going to go in after them.
But they played, for the most part, happily. They listened and remembered their manners, usually. Together they curled up on a couch and read this book (offered by our hostess, with the explanation that it had been quite apt for her kids, and she suspected mine would find it ringing true as well). They flitted around and ran in and out and left, in their wake, an adult (or two or three) smiling and remarking on what good kids they are.
I thought about that, as we drove home in the dark, and my daughter’s sleepy head bounced off my shoulder until I nestled it carefully between my shoulder and the seat so that she could sleep. I thought about that as I carried her up the stairs and got her tucked in. I thought about that as I removed Monkey’s shorts and discovered that his pockets were jam-packed full of pinecones.
And I thought about it again today when I offered the children chocolate milk and Chickadee looked at me with wide eyes.
“Chocolate milk? You NEVER give us chocolate milk. Are you ILL?”
Two lessons learned:
1) We are, indeed, ALL a product of our families.
2) They really are pretty good kids.