Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chaos on Crack


Our family on the move is a bit like a traveling circus, and when I say ‘circus,’ I mean the chaotic, noisy underbelly of the circus, not the pretty stuff all the patrons see.  You see, behind the scenes, there has to be someone scooping the elephant poop and another person to clip the tigers’ toenails and yet another one to listen to all the midget clowns gripe about having to cram into that little car day after day.  And the ringleader is the person who, somehow, finds him or herself smack in the middle of all this chaos, trying to maintain some semblance of organization and dignity.  (But really, we all know the ringleader is just as crazy as all the others.)

This Thanksgiving, we took our little show on the road.  We packed the clowns into the circus car, and we fed the caged animals, and we struck up a lovely rendition of that little circus ditty that seems to play right before the guy gets shot out of the cannon.  And it was over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house…

So at the first grandmother’s house, everyone was fairly (surprisingly) well-behaved, although I was immediately placed on high alert when a grandparent I shall not name (ahem) went into some sort of nervous flapping frenzy and demanded ‘parental supervision’ before the kids even did anything.  No one ate a seashell or a collectible rock, and no one chased the dog (Jason’s sister) into hiding, so I was pleased.  However, it became clear that my boys’ mere proximity to the collections was a nervous breakdown waiting to happen, so we attempted to intervene.  (Ok, I only intervened because Jason made me.  Otherwise I would have been content to sit back and let the mayhem unfold.)

Anyway, nothing got broken, and we headed off for the next house on our route.  When the front door to my grandma’s house opened, my boys ran a la Red Rover, Red Rover through the door and straight into the kitchen.  Here is where it begins.

There was a fruit tray.  An innocent, blameless fruit tray that at one time must have looked beautiful—but not after my boys got hold of it.  See, here’s the thing with my boys and fruit.  They can’t get enough of it.  Ever.  They stuff their little cheeks like we’re preparing to hibernate, and if the fruit happens to be particularly juicy (as was this fruit), it starts to run in rivers down their little chins and necks to puddle somewhere around their bellies.  Oh, they try to wipe it with their hands, but after a while, everything is so coated in natural sugars and juice that there is no clean surface that could possibly be used for cleaning.

So Jordan stood beside my grandma, dripping pineapple all over himself—and her—and stuffing grapes into his pockets for later.  Meanwhile, Jadon worked the candy corn dish, pilfering as many of those little sugary gems as possible.  It was at this point that I looked down the length of the table to see my ever-so-proper and delicate 13-year-old fisting a handful of turkey while shoveling pie with the other hand.  In the middle of this, Marissa had grabbed the paper and was clipping sale ads as fast as she could—probably to keep the pineapple juice from congealing on them.

Jacob and Jason were working some sort of computer magic in the living room.  I’m thinking this was a strategic decision on their parts, so that they did not have to dine next to the traveling circus.

As soon as the fruit was devoured by the wild animals finished, everyone wanted dessert.  Now, one might think I would be wary of this.  Having just left one grandma’s house where everyone got quite stuffed, and now sitting at another grandma’s house where those same someone’s were still stuffing their faces, it might have been prudent for me to be concerned about the unusually high amount of food my two little guys were ingesting.

And I would have worried.  Except there were sale ads.  And I was engrossed.  I was planning a strategy for our shopping day.

It wasn’t until I heard an awful sound that was something like BLECHTCHUGH that I worried.

Have I mentioned Jadon’s gag reflex?  Well, he has one.  A very finely-attuned one.  It soon became clear that the little guy had had just one bite too many of chocolate cheesecake.  As he unglamorously tossed his cookies or cheesecake (so to speak) back onto my grandmother’s nice Thanksgiving table cloth, I watched the looks of utter amazement pass across the faces of the other guests.  And you know what?  It was sort of like the looks of amazement that cross everyone’s faces after the tightrope walker sits on a chair on the tightrope and juggles flaming pins a hundred feet above the floor.  Without a net.  They were enthralled at the spectacle.  (Ok, they might have been mortified, but I prefer to go with enthralled.)

Hello, family!  It’s Thanksgiving, and the circus has come to town!

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