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10.28.2010

When Bad Moods Happen to Good People

Maybe it was the full moon, or the rainy day, or whatever, but somehow everyone ended up having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. So when we all accumulated around the supper table, it was bad day times four (Tish and Buddy were both still at work) for a play in which we all know our parts too well.

THE CAST:
Doc’s a pouter. He buries his head in his hands or crosses his arms defiantly with a scowl that could wilt dirt. Kit whines and screams. He’ll howl about how unfair it is and argue a point so far sideways you forget what started it, which is his goal. Tio’s gets mad. Frustrated he’ll slam things, and push everyone’s buttons to make them mad, too. Me? I’m an angel on Earth. Okay, maybe an angel that gets cranky, quick tempered, and resorts to sarcasm.

ACT I: A Table Full of Tempers
Doc started the proceedings. After asking a thousand times ‘what’s for supper, what’s for supper’, he stared at his plate of chicken and said “I don’t like that,” which of course any cook wants to hear after spending an hour making something they always like. He refused to eat, calling out his usual refrain of “all done!” before he’d taken a bite. Time to push him into swallowing food. Kit and Tio, who are strategically placed across the table from each other at all meals because the ‘love’ between them is soooooo strong, started playing a game that consisted of rhetorical questions to insult each other. “Are you stupid?” “Are you a mama’s boy” “Are you going to get grounded for swearing?” and so forth. Tio always gets the best of that because it’s easier to goad Kit. So of course, in the end “AM NOT!” became the screaming refrain from Kit while his big brother prodded on and on.

ACT II: The Escalation.
Doc stood on his chair dancing and insisting ‘all done! all done’, Kit and Tio start swearing and reciting filthy rap lyrics in unison with each other, and my usual positive mood is taking a dirt nap. Most of the time, I know how to stay calm and redirect so that we all move to a different conversation. It’s a slight of hand type thing. I ask a fantastic question that intrigues them enough to drop whatever they’re doing. From there, I can target them back on getting through supper and on to other things. No soap tonight. They giggled and sniped and ran the table for all it was worth until I was dreaming of early bedtimes all round.

ACT III: The Boiling Point.
“I’m fifty-two years old and all grown up.” I yelled, while pointing at each of them. “I can use whatever @#%!&$ words I want and that still doesn’t mean you get to swear! Now siddown and eat - all of you!”
Silence, except for the hard swallowing sounds in three throats. Grampy doesn’t often blow up. Doc clapped his hand over his mouth and his eyes bulged so far I thought they’d pop out and roll across the table. “You said the @! word!” his tiny hand mumbled. The other boys froze in mid spat and looked at me like I’d gone crazy.
Quite suddenly we all broke into laughter, mostly because of Doc’s silly face, and finished dinner like a normal family.

Whatever that may be.