Friday, May 24, 2013

When Did It All Stop Being So Funny?

My 16-year-old son has a shirt that says, “Fear the Couch.” It’s one of his favorites. He came home with it after Quiz Bowl practice one afternoon and said it was their official shirt. Something about whoever was sitting on the couch usually won the round. It’s one more example of the teenage silliness that fills my house. That and the plethora of rubber chickens, the pirate metal (yes, it’s a genre) music blaring on the ipod speakers, and the sign on the fridge which says, “This Freezer is Not Out of Control.”

I remember being silly myself when I was a teen, saying and doing odd
things just because it made me and my friends laugh. I’m sure, like much of the humor that I find around my house, it wasn’t quite as funny to the adults around me.

One time, on a trip to the Capitol for a Youth in Government Seminar, a friend and I stood in front of the elevator doors in the Senate Building with a camera, waiting for the doors to open. When they did, we snapped a picture and ran away giggling. I’m sure if you tried this today, you would be tackled to the ground and your camera confiscated. Things were different then. The funniest part of the picture is that when we finally had the film developed (remember when you had to wait for your pictures?), Ted Kennedy was in the back of the elevator! All of the well-dressed people, plus one service person in a gray jumpsuit, looked very surprised. I wish I knew where that picture was now.

Our other elevator stunt (we lived in a small town and there weren’t many elevators to play in) was

Friday, May 3, 2013

What If Everyone Had Cancer?

When my youngest son was four years old he lost all his hair to an autoimmune disorder called Alopecia Areata. Over the course of a month all of his beautiful red curls fell out, then his eye lashes and eye brows. My heart broke on a daily basis. But he was four, and hair to a four-year-old is not necessarily a concern. When a classmate at the snack table in preschool asked if he’d gotten a haircut, he looked confused until another classmate spoke up and said, “Nah, Ian’s hair fell out.” Everyone went back to their juice and animal crackers unalarmed.

As a parent you begin imagining your child’s life when you first see those two pink lines, perhaps even earlier if you’re a true romantic. I couldn’t imagine what elementary school would be like for my newly bald child. Or maybe the problem was that I could imagine it – teasing, bullying, heartbreak. For a few months we stayed in, but then it became obvious that the hair would not be re-growing so we resumed our life with our three kids, but I hovered close to my youngest ready to defend him at the slightest provocation.

While my husband was traveling, the kids and I ventured out for dinner one night at the local pizza shop. We snuggled into a booth and I tried not to notice the obvious stares of the other patrons. The kids were oblivious to anything odd and happy to be out to dinner for the first time since Ian’s diagnosis. When it was time to pay, I left the kids in the booth and went to the cashier. She told me not to worry, our check was already paid. I didn’t understand, but she assured me another patron had taken care of our check and wished my little boy well. I stumbled back to collect my children and made for the exit. Driving home it finally dawned on me that the kind person who paid our check must have thought Ian had cancer.