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I always go into long holiday weekends with my Norman Rockwell glasses firmly pressed against my nose, you know the ones with the rose tinted lenses? You probably have a pair too. It’s those very glasses that trick you into thinking that somehow your family will look like one of those portraits; the easy conversation around the dinner table followed by game night in front of a roaring fire culminating in a big group hug, the sounds of “I love you” punctuating the crisp air. Uh, yeah.
So on Sunday, I made a proclamation, we were going to have family movie night. That’s right. The dad, the mom the 14-year-old daughter and the 12-year-old son, even the yellow lab and black cat were going to all sit in front of the TV and watch a movie and everyone was going to enjoy themselves. DAMMIT!
There are several things wrong with this scenario, which I’m sure you, reading this on your laptop, can see more clearly than I could being smack dab in the middle of it. The evening started with daddy making a lovely Caesar salad with croutons for everyone, except not everyone wanted a lovely Caesar salad with croutons. “I didn’t ask for that,” wailed the boy, confusing our kitchen with the diner down the street. That prompted my first yelling of the evening. “Well, that’s what’s for dinner so you’ll eat it!” The girl, who’s less prone to complaining and seeing the lack of success her brother had, shrugged her shoulders, grabbed her bowl and headed to the living room.
Point of reference. Casey is 14. Where do 14-year-old girls spend all their time? In their rooms. Alone. So I had to basically perform a surgical extraction to even get her OUT of her cave in order to interact with the rest of the family. That should tell you everything you need to know about the kind of mood she was in.
Then the real fun started. Before butts were even settled in the sofa, the arguing started. Cole refused to sit on the sofa, instead opting to wheel around the hard wood floors on his desk chair, salad bowl balancing precariously on his lap. That of course, lit the teeny-tiny fuse on daddy who yelled “COLE BE STILL!” Getting the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to a peace deal would probably be easier. While Cole was burning the calories faster than he was taking them in on the living room racetrack, Casey sat sullenly on the end of the sofa.
“Casey what’s the matter?” If you have ever asked a teenage girl that question you know the answer. Nothing. Everything. And the fact that she would rather be kicked in the butt with a frozen boot than be anywhere NEAR her family. Casey responded with a shrug without even looking up. GRRR..
Of course, all of this was happening amid the drama of Cole trying to hook up the Netflix box, holding the wires in both hands and doing his best impersonation of Jeff Gordon at NASCAR. Salad is flying out of all of our mouths because everyone is shouting instructions except for Casey, who by this time, had curled up on the end of the couch and gone to sleep.
There is such a thing as too many choices and if you have one of these Netflix subscriptions, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Do we choose from TV shows? Classic movies? Comedies? Horror (absolutely NOT) and on it goes, arguing about everything, settling on nothing.
“THAT’S IT – CASEY GO!” I ordered her upstairs because the last thing I wanted to look at was her with that pained look on her face (yes, she had that look while she was sleeping, which means she wasn’t really sleeping but just trying to get out of the “family fun night”). Cole, pissed because we failed to give him his props for untangling the wires and hooking up the movie box, grabbed his sliding chair and headed upstairs too. That left Buff and me. At least it would be easier to agree on something to watch. We settled on “The Five Heartbeats” a corny movie we have seen literally 34 times before.
That’s all I remember before waking up in the living room. At 9:30pm. Turns out my snoring drove Buff to his office, the kids were both behind closed doors, leaving just my loyal companion, Olivia and me. I turned off the TV, downed the end of my wine and headed upstairs to bed.
I’m not exactly sure what happened. No I take that back, I AM sure what happened. THAT was family fun night for us and looking back on it, even with all that, it was sort of fun. It was definitely funny!
But that is the reality of my family. We are not a Norman Rockwell painting and this thing called life, complete with it’s strife, doesn’t always wrap up nice and neatly and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Well, maybe two small changes; lower expectations and more wine.
What about you? Do you build up these big family events in your mind, only to have them not play out the way you thought? What do you do to keep that from happening? Please start sharing your stories…