Last night, my wife and I settled our brains for a long winter’s nap (though she wore no kerchief and I wore no cap). Then on the bedside iPhone, there arose such a clatter. Shortly before dawn, one son called unexpectedly, his parents bolt upright, and ask what’s the matter. Away through the garage, my wife flew in a flash. Our dog was whining. If we waited any longer, it’ll be more than just gas. I heard our 7th grader shuffle to the shower, and thought “Uh oh.” Because I had no frickin’ idea where we’d hid his GoPro.
Everett turned 13 today, you see. And we had to make him feel as though his parents are good parents. Thoughtful parents. This despite the gobsmacking associated with now being the parents of two teenagers. On top of the daily chaos around here.
For weeks, we refused Everett’s outrageous demands that we purchase something supercilious. Wreaking of consumerism. Totally absent in third-world countries (from which neither my wife nor I came). And likely to trigger well-deserved childhood spankings in first world countries (from which both my wife and I came). Perhaps we imagined knitting Everett a sweater. Or writing him a long letter filled with witticisms regarding what we remember about being 13 year-olds. Life lessons. Perhaps an elaborately-choreographed birthday party with his buddies. Maybe an aardvark or boa constrictor or koala bear from the zoo would be involved. Maybe they would not. (I don’t think our zoo has koala bears.) I had written up to-do lists on top of to-do lists with all sorts of bespoke, Rockwellian birthday gifts–nay, birthday experiences–we would bring to fruition this year.
OK, so we got him the damned GoPro.
We never planned for Everett’s birthday to fall during the Holiday Season. I’d like to point that out as one perfectly legitimate excuse for our annual failure properly to observe the passage of another year in Everett’s existence.
But then again, we don’t observe the Holidays very well, either, apparently. Earlier this week, as I was making something truly fantastic and astoundingly healthy for his breakfast while half-listening to a news segment on KQED, Everett betrayed our family’s Holiday Ignorance. “Oh my God, they just mispronounced ‘Satanic’ as ‘Saintanick.'” I don’t know what it says about me as a parent that Everett’s brain went right for “Satanic” instead of “St. Nick” as we sit here just a couple weeks from Christmas. We have a Christmas tree in the living room. Everett has seen it. (Now you have, too.) I have been playing on repeat a 147-song “Beadling Xmas” Spotify playlist since the day after Thanksgiving. Everett has heard it. I know he has heard it because he has complained about it regularly. Several times he has screamed at it from the other room, “Alexa! Pause! Off! Off!” We even have the stockings hung by the chimney, with care (more or less).
And yet, Everett thinks Satan before Santa. Satan before Saint Nicholas. My son, raised in a den of devil-worshipping.
And now, with this new, high-definition camera of his, we have unwittingly armed him with the means to record for posterity the pagan free-for-all evidently going down in our household. He is probably narrating an all-school presentation right now as I type. With full photographic, slow-motion, high-definition evidence of our shameful parenting. I would like to think that I’m exaggerating on this score. Come on, that’s ridiculous, right? We walked him to his bus stop like any other day, without the slightest hint that anything was amiss. By the time we cover those 2 blocks from our house to the gaggle of other moms and dads and kids and dogs, we are good parents once again.
But I heard him exclaim, ere his school bus drove out of sight. “Happy Christmas to all, you’ll be visited by Child Services tonight!”
Thanks for reading (oh, and Happy Birthday, buddy).