Taking Care of the Girls


Birthday season in our household is finally drawing to a close, just in time for Christmas.  Yes, this is a very expensive time of year for us, so it’s good we aren’t getting a referral any time soon.  Midge is our one saving grace.  Her birthday isn’t for several more months.

We don’t do great big lavish birthday parties for the kids.  We have a schedule all worked out for when they can have friends-over birthday parties — 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18 — the rest of the years are just cake and presents with the family (and two neighbor girls).  This year was, mercifully, family-only birthdays, and even those can get a bit chaotic.  We have four kids, my sister has three, my older brother has four and my younger brother has one.  Well, o.k., my younger brother lives on the other side of the country so it’s not like he actually comes to family birthday parties, plus his baby is only a few weeks old; and my older brother lives about 2 hours away, so he’s not always here.  Though he has been showing up more since he unloaded the wife.  Hee hee.

But even with just our four and my sister’s three . . .well . . .  wait . . . o.k., one of hers is just crawling so I won’t count him.  Anyway, it can get quite rowdy.   The walls shake, the floors vibrate, and the adults spend the evening making brilliant conversation, such as:

“What was that you said?!?  I missed it because of the kids!!!!

“Where are whose kids?!?  There’s one of mine over there!”

“What’s he doing over there?!?  I don’t thinks he’s in any trouble!”

“Who’s in trouble?!? One of my kids?!?”

“Oh, no trouble at all.  We’re glad to drive down for dinner tonight!”

“What?!?  Why are we getting together for dinner again tomorrow night?!?  I didn’t think there was another birthday for two weeks?!?”

Things settle down for a few minutes when it is time to sing and cut the cake.  Some cheeky kid usually starts the singing before the gathered masses are ready and then we all wind up following that off-key, painfully slow start.  If a foreigner were to witness one of my family’s renditions of “Happy Birthday” they would wonder who died.  If an American were to witness it they would probably slip Zoloft into our punch.  On the up side, the slow tempo makes the song last a while, which gives me time to take inventory of the immediate surroundings:  no holes in walls, no broken furniture, no overturned houseplants, no bleeding pets, picture on the wall over the sofa of my three girls hanging askew.  Not too bad.  I’ll take care of the girls’ picture later.

Cake, presents, mayhem, then send the kids down to the rec room to watch whatever video the birthday girl/boy just got.  Maybe send a man or two down with them to supervise.  All other adults get to breathe a sigh of relief and collapse into the nearest furniture to enjoy the next five to ten minutes before the kids get bored with the video.  My sister picks the sofa, my mother picks a chair across from her.  Now my mother notices the crooked picture.

“Hey K~,” she says, “why don’t you straighten up the girls?”

“What?” my sister says with a slightly puzzled look.

“While you’re sitting there, straighten up the girls.”

My sister dutifully starts adjusting her bra straps.

The rest of us laugh until we cry and can no longer breathe.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

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