Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kids, Kennedys, and Pizza Coupons

News sources reveal that there’s another Kennedy in Rehab. That’s like having a media blitz to announce that Paris Hilton has bought a new pair of pumps. In a country where politics have always been a playground for the wealthy and eccentric to display the lack of judgment that would reward the common man with enough state-provided room and board to last until Social Security kicks in, the Kennedy Family is to public decorum what Kirstie Alley is to the Jenny Craig diet.

If the Kennedys would display as much talent in social interaction as they do in politics, the world could be their Facebook page. This family has had so many members graduate from the Betty Ford clinic, they have their own yearbook, homecoming queen, and valedictorian.

But it’s not really sporting of me to pick on these guys. Having raised two teenagers to angsthood, I remember times when pouring bourbon on my cornflakes was more preventive maintenance than problem drinking. The first time I faced a thirteen year old boy with one body hair wielding a safety razor and a pack of bandaids, I put the insurance company on speed dial and chugged a bottle of the first thing I could find in the cupboard. And while Mrs. Butterworth’s isn’t bad for a complimentary cocktail, the effect wasn’t as soothing to my nerves as I had hoped. But it turned out okay. We just plucked that hair out of his ear with a handy pair of tweezers.

Raising teenagers teaches you about alternate reality. My kids live in a video game world where a quick plunge over a nearby cliff means you just have to wait for your extra life to kick in. Try to explain to the bearer of a beginner’s permit that the family Chevy doesn’t operate like the car on Crazy Taxi. Sure he might be able to drive the whole course backwards with virtual passengers, but load up a real life SUV with two toddlers, three soccer balls, and a Labrador with bladder retention problems and there are going to be more pit stops on the way to the Dollar Store than Dale Earnhardt makes all season.

One thing you can say for the Kennedys is that once you’re on Team Kennedy, you’re a member for life. Where I come from, we don’t put down roots so much as set out sprouts and pray for rain. We don’t even write our names on the mailboxes in permanent marker. I put labels in my husband’s workout clothes that read “Current Resident” and our address.

And nothing says, “It’s a holiday” like the 2:00 p.m. child custody rotation and swap meet. At the designated time, alternate sets of parents arrive and we exchange children like they were pizza coupons. Even now that my kids are old enough that I can no longer claim them as co-dependents, they’ll jump up at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon and run to the car clutching their headphones, a spare pillow, and two video games to be named later.

But the entire Kennedy clan will be engaging in freelance flag football at Hyannis Port on the Fourth of July long after they list my name right before “survived by” and “served as volunteer taster for the county BBQ festival” in the twice weekly hometown paper. Millions of dollars in memorials for charitable foundations will follow the death of even a minor Kennedy.

Just make the checks for me out to Diapers for Dogs.

No comments: