Betty J. Slade

 

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    Trapped in a crazy family

    Trapped in a car wash with fighting teenagers in their 40s and trapped in my own voice and a husband who wants to ask me questions, I wanted to shout, "You're driving me crazy."

    I woke up this morning with a cold and my voice was raspy, scratchy and I couldn't speak. I went to bed feeling great and woke up sick.

    My Sweet Al said, "Don't talk. It hurts your voice. You sound terrible."

    With hoarseness, I said, "OK."

    "Hug?"

    "I said OK."

    "Hugh?"

    "Al, you are making me talk. You are asking me questions and you are persistent that I answer you and my voice is getting worse."

    Then he got up in my face and pronounced every word loudly, "Can you hear me?"

    I said, "Al, it's not my hearing, it's my voice and your lack of hearing."

    "Huh? What did you say?"

    I shot him a look that would sear his head.

    Our son, listening to our agitating exchange, shook his head and gave us that familiar look. It's one he has shot at me many times before. I read his mind, not out loud, but with my eyes. I knew what he was thinking: "Deliver me from these old people. They are driving me nuts." I was thinking the same thing, "Deliver me from these young people and Al's annoying questions."

    It was the weekend and we were invited to go on a day trip with the family. We jumped at the chance. Usually, we try a new restaurant and have a lot of fun.

    Things have changed with the family. Al and I now sit in the back seat and our kids sit in the front. Al used to be a really good driver and I was an excellent navigator and told him how to drive. Now, when he drives, he is sightseeing and window shopping for deer and elk. He's not hunting, but he is sure looking.

    I'm on pins and needles every time he crawls behind the wheel My fingers cling to the dash and my feet are pushing holes in the floor mat.

    So, our son is driving us. He follows too close behind the car in front. He breaks with a jerk. When I try to tell him how to drive, he becomes offended. He reminds me he has been driving 30 years. I remind him I've been driving 60 years. Apparently, it doesn't matter the number of years one has driven, but who is more alert and a better driver. I believe I am both.

    All I know is these adult children, who feel they are now raising us, are driving us crazy. We have willingly paced our lives in their hands just to have a good time. Yikes! It's easier to stay at home. They make the terms for the day and we go along.

    Our children could be getting back at us for all the years we went on day trips to galleries and museums. They begged us to take them home. Why would we take the kids home? Al and I were having fun and they were getting some culture.

    The recent day trip consisted of four members of our family who took the day to bond and celebrate our daughter's birthday. Bond? Is that what it's called?

    Our son stopped by the car wash. I wondered why. He had just had the car washed a few days before. I knew better than to ask. I didn't want that look, the one he has given me when I ask an important question. I am sure it was the same look I gave them when they were asking me dumb questions years ago.

    It's amazing how things come back around.

    In the car wash, the water was surrounding us. The noise of motor, wheels, brushes and the slap of plastic strips against the windshield added to my aggravation. Four of us sat in a vacuum of noise coming from the outside.

    Inside the car, my Sweet Al said to our daughter she needed to start a savings account. "I'm telling you in code. Make it your CR account."

    Feeling left out, I croaked out some words, "Why are you talking in code to her? There is just family in the car.'

    Al said, "Huh? I can't hear you."

    "I'm not repeating what I said. No one can hear each other with all the pressure coming against the car." I spouted out, "Are you trying to spell car? You spell car, C-A-R. Does that mean, I've broken your code?"

    Al said, "I know how to spell car. I was talking in code to her."

    Lord, help me with this family. That started the day. My Sweet Al and I listened to our two adult children in the front seats fighting like teenagers all day long. I warned them I would change places with them if they didn't quit fighting. They ignored me while Al continued to ask me questions.

    Final brushstroke: The last day trip we went on to see our grandson, once again, our son was picking on his baby sister and she started crying at the table in the restaurant. Our other daughter got mad, changed seats and sat between them. Our son didn't stop. He reached around her and pulled his sister's hair. Why would we go through all of this just to be with family and have fun? Maybe we are the crazy ones.

     

     

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