Saturday, December 22, 2012

tidings of domestic comfort & joy

Home for the Holidays:
Drama. Trauma. Hormones.

Teenage Sister Numero Uno runs upstairs like the hounds of hell are at her heels, heralding the advent of a mouse in the basement. Her heart is gripped with a glamorous terror, as she insists most emphatically that she heard a shrill, rodent-like squeak.
And not just one, but two.

Later that night, while doing laundry, I discovered what exactly this squeak was.
Fear not, sweet princes, it was not, in fact, a mouse, but rather the rotating fan.
Call off the hounds.
We are saved.

~

Too soon, too soon I declared: "We've all recovered our emotional equanimity."
Famous last words.
 One moment, the house is peaceful. 
There's a dull hum of peaceful activity in the background, but besides that, all is calm and all is bright.
And then, I turn my back for a second.
Then the next thing I know:
My youngest brother is writhing on the kitchen floor, howling in pain.
The poor child had run into an open kitchen cabinet door while vigorously and athletically bouncing up and down, practicing his Irish dance steps.
It's a common problem: reckless Irish dancing. 
Don't try it at home with open cabinets around, kids.
It usually ends in pain.
(But, when he wasn't looking, I chuckled in spite of myself.
BOY WOUNDED BY KITCHEN CABINET WHILE IRISH DANCING
You can't make up this kind of stuff.)

~
There are two teenage girls in this house.
Let me repeat that for you:
two.
teenage.
girls.
Which means one thing: hormones.
Hormones on hormones on hormones.
It's terrifying. Mood swings are fast and furious; we move from tragedy to ecstasy in a matter of milliseconds.
My mom keeps sending me looks loaded with subtext. It's like she's implying that I was once an emotionally volatile, super-sensitively fragile teenage girl myself.
Preposterous, right?

But seriously, folks. Having teenage sisters around is an excellent reminder of just how painful growing up is. It's not easy. Hormone-driven waterfalls of tears are not easy to deal with. Usually because you have no idea why exactly you're crying so much. Puberty gets caricatured a lot (because, yes, the overreactions and drama so easily lend themselves to exaggeration), but I think that's because we're often afraid to remember that very awkward, fragile, painful part of our pasts.
Butterflies probably like to forget that they ever were in the chrysalis. 

~

I went on a walk a couple evenings ago, and I felt the delicious coldness of a chill December night creep through my wool coat. I love evening walks with the snow and the stars.
Out of the darkness, I spotted a familiar shape.
Immediately, I reverted into Cute-Baby-Or-Small-Animal-in-Close-Proximity mode.
(This means: raise voice up several octaves, and make self look as non-threatening as possible. [I usually look very threatening.])
The deer twitched its nose at me. Then he twitched his ear.
He darted out of the front yard to the side yard.
But then, he didn't move.
That stubborn little deer wasn't going to move in either direction until I did.
Animals are smarter than we give them credit for.
 We had a long staring contest, which I inevitably lost.

I returned to a warm hearth and home.
The Christmas lights lit up little corners of rooms that usually remain dark.
Couches were decorated with extra pillows.
The smell of Christmas and dinner and birthday candles was in the air.

My litte sister was icing the fresh chocolate cake and there was a fire in the fireplace.

~


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