Earlier this week, Jax talked about the wider bands of frith. Being far from family, I have been thinking about my inner bands of frith this holiday week. I am thankful for my family; I miss them often, especially around the holidays. As in many families, the holidays could be stressful for ours, too. But we had many more good times than bad. And really, the bad weren’t BAD – the bad times were just us kids getting yelled at. But the yelling usually immediately followed a really GOOD time, so it was worth it.
When I was a kid, most of my holiday and family dinners were spent at The Kid’s Table. I absolutely loved The Kid’s Table. Everyone I wanted to hang out with was there: my big brother Rudy, by big sister Jill, my uncle Randy and (eventually) my little sister, Carrie. [If you’re reading this Oh-Kin-Of-Mine, yeah, I really did enjoy spending time with you.] Randy is only two years older than me, so it’s not like he was a chaperone or anything. The Parent Table was close enough they could see most everything we did, so no adults were necessary at The Kids Table (which is good because <read in German accent> ve vould have treated zem as spies!).
The adults seemed happy to be away from us, and we were delighted to be separate from them. We would not have succeeded in our youthful shenanigans had we had constant adult supervision. Here are some of my favorite shenanigans. [Warning! I have a terrible memory, so these snippets in time have likely been waxed romantic over the years.]
The Milk Incident. I think I was around seven or eight years old then. We were all sitting at The Kid’s Table at my grandparent’s house (which was also Randy’s house). My back was to The Adult Table and Randy is sitting across me from. I think Rudy and Jill were on either side of me (Carrie was either a wee babe or a soon-to-be-twinkle in a parental eye). We start laughing. A common occurrence at The Kid’s Table. I can’t remember why we were laughing, but it was a gut-wrenching laugh. My sides were hurting. We were all tearing up. I look up at Randy and see that milk has started coming out of his nose. I was disgusted!! (I had a weak stomach as a kid). But despite the ick factor, we cannot stop laughing and, I’m sure, we laughed even harder. So, of course, Randy drinks more milk to keep up the shtick. It didn’t take long before The Adult Table was peering down its Adult nose at our gaffawing. As followed all GOOD times, we got yelled at.
The Rubber Band Incident. Once again, we were all sitting at The Kid’s Table at my grandparent’s house, same seating arrangement. We are all a bit older than we were during the Milk Incident (and perhaps closer emotionally because of it). I may have been about eleven years old. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I think my siblings and I were complaining about getting in trouble all the time. And I think Randy may have been bragging about not getting in trouble all the time (one of the many benefits of having “older” parents). To demonstrate his immunity to punishment, he picked up a rubber band and aimed it at his mother. What the…?! We were shocked. But not nearly as shocked as we were when he let the rubber band fly. It hit his mother, my grandmother, square in the face. In! The! Face! We froze, desperately wanting to laugh, but knowing better.* Time stood still for just a fraction of a second. Then his mother yells, “RAHN DEH!” in her Mississippi accent. Every adult head at The Adult Table turns our way. But I’ll be damned. That MoFo DID NOT GET punished! Sure, he got yelled at (well, we all got yelled at, the rest of us being accomplices and all), but no punitive measures were meted his way. That lucky dog.
<Have you noticed that all these incidents center around Randy? Uh-huh, he was THAT kid.>**
The Roll Incident. This time we were all sitting at one long table at our house. It must’ve been Thanksgiving since we always ate Thanksgiving at our house. I’m pretty sure I was a tween by this point. The kids were sitting here and there between adults, so shenanigans were tragically at a minimum. But then an opportunity for mischief arose. Randy was sitting somewhere across the table from me and says to me, “Hey GG, toss me a roll.” So I did. I tossed him a roll. Across the big table. In front of all the adults. I thought it was just a funny little gesture. Ha ha ha, I tossed a roll. I didn’t process the weight of my faux pas until the roll was in the air and there was a slight intake of breath from those around me. You know, the kind of gasp from lookers-on that makes your stomach drop — otherwise known as the “oh shit” moment. I thought my father’s head was going to explode. He yelled at me. Boy, did he yell at me. I, not being Randy, was not immune to punishment and got the lion’s share of dish duty that night.
The Face Incident. So, this was less of an incident and more of a tradition. I have no memory of how this tradition started, but it was surely through kid tom-foolery. Every big family occasion (and any other time we felt so inclined), we would freak out my mother by making a weird face. It wasn’t that we all made different weird faces, we made the same weird face, henceforth referred as “the face” — which is what we called it. [In retrospect, we weren’t very clever with the name.] We never planned to make “the face.” It was an organic experience, if you will, emerging only when the time was right (all that means is that my mom wasn’t expecting it). As if our spidey senses were tingling, the kids would all look at each other and give a slight nod (you know, like mafia people do in movies), and then we would set our hands near our faces and one of us would say, “Mom.” She would look up and we would make THE FACE. She winced every time and sometimes, if we really caught her off guard, she would squirm and and make gnashing noises. *sigh* It was wonderful. We didn’t really get yelled at when we made “the face” – just the requisite fussing like “Okay, that’s enough” and “Alright, you’ve had your fun.” Good times. Good times.
These are some of my fondest memories of family time when I was a kid. I am ever thankful for them because they always make me smile and make me feel close to those who are many miles away. Thanks to the Grand Overseer (aka Facebook), I stay in touch with my family pretty easily now. And I know the tradition of kid shenanigans has been passed on to my nieces and nephews. May they always take a chance at getting yelled at to have a little fun. Note to nieces and nephews, I am NOT giving you permission to shoot rubber bands at your respective mothers!
What about you readers? What are some of your favorite memories of family time as a kid?
* I shared this story at Thanksgiving dinner this year (with friends). One of them said, “Well, now that you’re an adult, you know the adults felt the same way. Wanting to laugh, but knowing better.” Yeah, I do know that now. *grin*
** I now know how lucky I was to be related to THAT kid. Randy was always a hoot as a kid and still is! He remains one of my favorite people.
+ Featured image is the cover of the sheet music for Thanks for the Memory.