We have not had any more children since we last wrote, which is a relief to us, but a blow to those of our friends and family counting on us to keep Social Security solvent in their lifetimes. This is not to suggest that we do not take comfort and joy in our offspring — we do — yet that is not to suggest that we have not investigated whether it is illegal to auction off children on EbayUSA (it is) or EbayKazakhstan (it isn’t).
Justin is a still a lawyer and still cannot describe what he does — business law, civil litigation, since you asked — in such a fashion as to give an interesting answer at parties to the question, “What do you?” So, if the interrogator persists, he makes do with telling fabulous lies about his fictional counter-terrorism law practice (“And I said, ‘Subpoena? We don’t need no stinkin’ subpoena.’ And then the SEALs took him out.”).
According to testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jordana manages our three-child horde in a ruthless fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. With remarkable dexterity and serenity — remarkable for someone reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, anyway — she keeps them clothed, fed, bathed, and non-critically injured. Indeed, it has been almost twelve months since we last visited the emergency room, a new personal best since we gave up drug dealing and its attendant turf wars. Jordana recently participated in a neighborhood art show. She offered for sale several water colors, magic wands, and toy swords (all handcrafted by fair trade labor and certified organic, rest assured). The wands and swords sold but the water colors didn’t, indicating that the market niche for violence and superstition may be underserved. So, there is hope, after all.
The Boy (six) is in a wonderful “alternative kindergarten” — a phrase which here has the meaning, “hippie German school” — where even the vegan children seem happy, if malnourished, and some of the children, and all of the faculty, really do believe in gnomes and fairies. Imaginative and imitative play are strongly encouraged there, although it must be said that, when The Boy insisted on leading the children playing “pirates” to pillage the children playing “house,” the teacher gently “re-directed” his play. He will begin first grade next year, because the school no longer offers leaving home to follow Phish as an alternative. His most endearing, annoying, and dangerous trait is persistent inquisitiveness. Recently, he asked, “What’s a virgin?” His father, thinking himself very clever, answered that a virgin is a woman who is not married and that virgins don’t normally have babies, which is why it’s miraculous when they do. Whereupon, The Boy asked, “Is Jesus the only miracle baby?” and his father answered — now somewhat apprehensively — “As far as I know.” To which The Boy replied, “What about Devin?” to which his father could only utter a dreadful “Huh?” in response. “Devin must be a miracle baby too. His mom’s not married.” Oh, the tangled webs we weave, when we practice to deceive.
The Middle Girl (three) holds court at home. She has been described by those who love her as “imperious,” “intemperate,” and “maniacal.” Those who meet her are not surprised to learn that she is just thirty generations removed from her mother’s Danish Viking ancestors. In another age, she might have terrorized the English seaside. Today, she is content to terrorize her family, in particular, her brother. Yet, just when her blue eyes dangerously gleam with vestigial memories of burning coastal villages, she suddenly dons fairy wings, or takes a baby doll in her arms, and become the very image of domestic tranquility. They say it is better to be loved, but sufficient to be feared. The Middle Girl is both.
To our eternal sorrow, The Toddler Girl (one) learned to walk. She has left the ESE (eat-sleep-excrete) stage and entered toddlerhood (a word which here has the meaning, “that period of childhood development that is most costly in terms of lost, broken, and destroyed personal property and medical bills”). Her physical and mental development appear to be occurring at a normal pace, with the exception of her sense of self-preservation, which does not appear to have developed at all. She was born last November with what appeared to be a Hindu caste mark on her forehead. After consulting with various physicians, theologians, ethicists, and consultants, we concluded that she could, nevertheless, be raised in the Christian religion. It turns out that the mark was actually a fairly common, and harmless, birthmark called a hemangioma that grows rapidly for about six months after birth into an unattractive, prominent red bump, but then gradually shrinks away over the next five or six years. Beatrix’s birthmark has been a powerful catalyst for activism in our family. We have joined a support group for people who constantly answer the question, “What’s the giant red bump on your baby’s forehead? Did you hit her over the head with something?”; we have designed a ribbon to be worn by celebrity spokesperson’s to raise awareness; and we are forming a lobbying group to seek federal legislation outlawing hemangiomas. Please call your senator.
We are always reminded this time of year just what terrible correspondents we are. We don’t really deserve the families we were born into or the kind friends we’ve made, and our failure of correspondence only tips the balance further against us. But, despite the utter lack of any evidence corroborating our self-serving testimony, and our use of a shamelessly mail-merged form letter to contact you — despite all of that, we assert, contend, and aver that the thought of you, your life, and your loved ones has crossed our minds more than a few times during the past twelve months, even if our paths have not, and we have hoped that you and yours are happy, healthy, and wise. As we do now.
5 years ago