S h o r t   F i c t i o n  /  E s s a y s


"You've given birth to
post-historic creatures!"


Paul has this thing he does as you pass him on occasion: fingers up as grasping claws, and suddenly he makes this... well, sharp squawk as he dips in toward you. I can only describe the sound as pterodactyl-like. The last time it happened, it was Paul and Ben both doing their respective versions of this. Paul's squawk was immediately followed by the declaration, "Mom, you've given birth to post-historic creatures!"

This is one of the things I enjoy most about our household. There's always wordplay/mindplay or some other kind of mental stretching going on. I think it started with signs we would pass on the road: a truck from a company called Abrasive Engineering (they did sand-blasting) provided us with a whole host of possibilities when we immediately started to wonder how, well, abrasive they might be when answering their phone. (The possibilities made for a lot of laughs.) On one trip south to see relatives, we spent a good half-hour thinking up new Barbies; Arsonist Barbie was voted most popular in the end (burnt hillside sold separately.) We quote lines of movies, or the X-Files, or Shakespeare to each other at appropriate moments. During the 'official' war in Iraq, Ben would take any price that came up in daily conversation and convert it into Iraqi dinars.

Paul, Ben and Steve have also developed a household 'lowerarchy', where the coveted position is being the slave, who (of course) is served by the servant, who in turn is above the master (as the youngest, Ben defaults into the unenviable position of master.) Now they've come out with the household Special Powers. Paul's is that He Knows Everything. Ben's is that Everything He Says Becomes True. The one they bestowed on me, teenagers that they are, is that I Know Nothing.

Well, you can't win them all.

But it's all in good fun. I've always maintained that one of the worst fates I could think of would be to end up with boring kids, and thank goodness that hasn't happened. In spite of the outward hardships, the single-parent thing and the inevitable bumps in the road, there's a unity/camaraderie here that I wouldn't trade for anything. I count myself very fortunate.


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