You know who I admire?
I admire people who say, “I don’t care what other people think of me.”
And mean it.
I’m afraid I’m not so strong. I hate hate hate it when people are mad at me. And I also hate it when people I live with are mad at each other.
The recent return of the hellish heat and humidity that is our summer here in the heart of Carolina has me both hiding in dark, air-conditioned rooms, and reminiscing about previous Matthews Family Band summers.
When The Kid was a toddler, Durham had those summer evening events with music, food, and activities for the kids. It was free, sounded like fun, so one night we decided to go.
We were having a terrific time, The little Kid was dancing and making friends.
And then, it happened.
The Duke blue devil made an appearance. We pointed him out to our toddler, who loved to see him on TV.
We hadn’t taken into account that on TV, the mascot was seven or eight inches. In person, he was around six feet tall.
Panic is an extreme understatement. The poor child didn’t know whether to scream, cry, throw up, or run. So all four were attempted at the same time.
The Kid ran to us, screaming, “We got to go! We got to go NOW!”
So we left.
But for the next few years, whenever we told The Kid we were going somewhere, the poor thing would get a worried look and ask, “The Blue Devil guy’s not gonna be there, is he?”
Another year, The Kid got to see Mommy in a frenzy of terror.
It was one of those days when I had one last nerve, and my only child was doing an interpretive dance right on it.
I asked The Kid to go outside and weed the little flower bed around the mailbox. I figured there wouldn’t be much actual weeding done, but I also figured the break meant I wouldn’t be drunk before dinner.
Within forty-five seconds The Kid was back.
“I can’t weed. It’s full of snakes!”
I tried to explain that it was probably a few worms, but my child would not be dissuaded. I finally went out to the mailbox to prove I was right.
Except, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Some horrible, mean, sneaky, dastardly snake had laid eggs in the bed, and seventeen million of them had recently hatched.
I was almost catatonic with terror. The Kid took my arm and gently led me back into the house.
That night, I was drunk before dinner.
At the beginning of this essay, I spoke about my discomfort with ire.
One summer, Petey and The Kid were barely speaking. Petey insisted our child needed a bicycle for Christmas. The gift was a bust.
So, in late June, our little would-be cyclist still didn’t know how to ride, and showed no interest. Husband and child had butted heads about it for six months. I decided to end the stalemate and teach The Kid.
So one day, when it was about 732° outside, I took child and bike down to an empty parking lot to get it done. I figured twenty minutes, tops.
Three hours later I was praying for the sweet release of death. I gave up and that night, I announced I was out. I was formally withdrawing from the great bicycle debate. Done.
The Kid never learned to ride, and I honestly have no memory of what happened to that cursed vehicle.
So, here’s hoping that your own summer is not terrifying, sweaty, or frustrating.
Thanks for your time.
Contact debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.