Friday, May 23, 2014

Family togetherness comes with increasing levels of complication

Sure, you're pretending to work today, surfing the web, hoping the phone doesn't ring, counting the minutes until you can start on your holiday weekend.

I so envy you.

I mean, it will be Memorial Day weekend for me, too, but I can't exactly say I'm looking forward to it. It sounds terribly wrong to say it -- it is terribly wrong -- but I'm dreading this weekend.

Older Daughter is coming for a visit. With Hank and now-month-old Granddaughter #2.

You, dear reader, are probably outraged at this point. Curmudgeon, you fiend! you snarl at your monitor, imagining me cowering in shame. Your daughter is coming to visit you and bringing your new grandchild to see you and you are something other than thrilled?

Well, actually, yes.

The Curmudgeon Manse is, sadly, not a stately English country home. I live in a nice area of the City of Chicago, and my house is not small by urban standards. The modern four bedroom suburban house dwarfs our house, the original part of which probably dates to the 1920s. Our four bedrooms are tiny, by modern standards (the room where Granddaughter #1 sleeps would be considered a walk-in closet in a modern suburban home), but we have a living room, dining room and, by way of addition, a den and something of a great room, though it is mostly used for storage.

As is our basement -- bulging, still, with the wedding gifts from the nuptials of Olaf and Younger Daughter, now two years past. But they are still living with us, along with Granddaughter #1, an increasingly energetic toddler, tall for her age, able to see and pull things off all but the highest shelves. Like knives from the kitchen counters. Or phones recharging in the den. Oh, that child loves phones. Clearly, some of my mother's genes course through her veins. My mother was part telephone, you know.

And then, last weekend, Youngest Son returned for the summer. His stuff returned on Saturday. He returned on Sunday night, having remained in Wisconsin an extra day to witness his girlfriend's graduation from South Janesville College. He's made some progress toward settling in over the past week. The unlaundered pile of clothes and blankets in the living room is now a pile of laundered clothes and blankets. But it's still in the living room, right where Older Daughter and Hank intend to put the mountain of stuff they will bring for their weekend sojourn.

You might think that, inasmuch as we live in the O'Hare flightpath, there might be one or two gazillion hotel rooms within spitting distance of our house. And, if you think that, you'd be right.

But Older Daughter wouldn't think of staying at a hotel. The whole point of coming home is hanging around the house. If you've been counting bedrooms, you may have calculated that Younger Daughter and her husband have one bedroom, their daughter another, and Youngest Son a third. That leaves one for Long Suffering Spouse and me. And none for Older Daughter and her husband and their daughter.

We acquired a futon for Older Daughter and her husband after they got married five years back. That was initially located in the sort-of great room (maybe we could call it a merely good room instead) but it became our primary couch when the couch in the den finally gave up the ghost.

The only room in my house where I spend any time (other than the bathroom of course -- I am a man of a certain age) is the den. My desktop computer is there. The TV is there. The DVD player is there. My recliner is there.

Most nights, Long Suffering Spouse and I fall asleep in the den -- she grading papers, me watching TV, fiddling with my iPad, and waiting for her -- waking up at 1:00 or 2:00 to make the coffee (for Olaf's 5:45 a.m. daily exit) and stagger upstairs.

So I didn't entirely lose it when Long Suffering Spouse seriously suggested that we give up our bedroom for the weekend. It's just a few additional hours in the recliner, and I can go on the computer or do any number of other things before the rest of the sleepers awaken.

This morning, though, Long Suffering Spouse was having second thoughts. If the baby has a rough night, she said, speaking of the newborn, she'll wake up the whole house if she's in our room. Younger Daughter recalled that she used to bring her newborn downstairs in the middle of the night for that very reason. They will advise me of their decision about where I sleep tonight in due course. Maybe -- if Older Daughter decides to delay her expedition until Saturday morning -- I can have a temporary reprieve. I'm not counting on it.

Older Daughter has invited her other brothers over for a barbecue this weekend; she's not sure -- even at this point -- when it will be. And she wants Abuela to come over to meet the new great-grandchild, too. I'm not sure who else she's invited. She's invited my friends Steve and Charlotte certainly, and possibly others.

(Did I mention that this was supposedly my house?)

Yes, I know. Older Daughter is happy. She wants to show off her new baby. I understand; really I do.

The good news is that Older Daughter is (supposedly) not bringing either of her giant dogs this time. I've written about Cork, their giant golden retriever, from time to time. Well, last year they got Cork a playmate, another golden, this one named Tipperary. These are spastic creatures on their best days; that's in the nature of golden retrievers. But these poor monsters are also attention-starved. They need constant reassurance and, if you fail to pay sufficient heed, they will find a way to make you notice them. You haven't lived until an 80 pound dog has leapt into your lap while you're dozing (and you don't feel much like living for some time thereafter).

Cork and Tipperary are being left behind on this occasion because Hank and Older Daughter don't think they can fit both dogs and the baby in their car for a (minimum) three hour trip. It has nothing to do with my convenience, or preference, I can tell you that.

Youngest Son announced last night that he's going to a friend's 21st birthday party this evening, so he'll be gone all night. This would scare me sufficiently for one weekend all by itself. Given the weekend agenda, however, I volunteered to go with him. "I always liked that kid," I told him, as he reminded me of whose birthday it was. "What's his name again?"


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

oh. my. gosh. excuse me while i go take a nap now.

smiles, bee

Lawfrog said...

Maybe YOU should get a hotel room and be done with it. I can't imagine that many people in my house at once. No thank you. You're a saint.