“Have you ever wanted to slap the Beast?” said my sister in subversive tone at our annual family Christmas get-together. We were looking for the rest of our dysfunction crew in the swarm of New Yorkers and tourists entering the main hall of Metropolitan Museum as we sat drinking in the balcony bar overlooking it all. With, of course, the string quartet playing…
“No…not yet,” I said, and then added, since she seemed disappointed—“ but I HAVE wanted to slap your son.” Seeing the look of horror on my sister’s face—I tried to back pedal…but it was too late. She did not want to hear my theory that boys belong in a large field with a ball to run wild with until they drop from exhaustion. That girls in general were mellower and threats of taking away their favorite skinny jeans, eye liner pencil, etc. normally was enough to stop dead in its tracks any ill behavior.
It is funny—as you get older the family dysfunction evolves as you do. It has moved from criticism of partner choice to choice of parenting styles.
We are too harsh on the Beast. The child does not even have an Xbox or a PlayStation. No TV in her room—oh the horrors! Thank GOD we finally got her UGGS so we do not have to hear about THAT anymore.
The small town Massachusetts brother does not even show-up to family functions any more—he was the first to have a child and we have been back-seat drivers on his parental journey since day one. Granted—they did try to home school the poor child—something I think is bizarre—because, honestly, free public education is a gift from god. But my brother sends his son to these family gatherings because the child loves New York City and all things not small town. Oddly enough, against all bets placed by his nasty aunts and uncles, the Country Cousin has grown up smart, handsome, strong and nice.
The other cousin is a fairy—slight, with long blond hair and pale, pale skin. When she was little she could not stop hopping and jumping and skipping. It was as if she could not stand to be held by gravity for any length of time which furthered my theory that the child was an ethereal creature. Her parents tried to make her a normal child—scolded her for her constant hopping and skipping. The child did transform. At the tender age of twelve she turned into, what looks like, a sultry sixteen year old. Whereas the beast does not seem to understand the power of her new body, the Fairy Princess seems abundantly aware. Heaven help the Upper Westside boys and her parents.
The youngest cousin, the Wild Child , the one who inspires violence in normally pacific, coffee drinking mothers, is an artist. His parents don’t seem to truly understand his artistic temperament. The child is brilliant and thoughtful and demands attention and is oh so annoying if he does not get the attention he requires.
Yet childhood slips by so quickly…it is only a matter of time before the Wild Child grows up and transforms. And I wait patiently with the napkin drawing I got from him yesterday…signed and dated. Just waiting to cash it in.
Hellllooo European retirement.