The Tangential Thinker

As most of you know, I have a daughter, Cranky, age 12, and two sons, Whiny, 11, and Punch, 9. With Cranky off traveling with friends and my husband away on business, I was left for the brunt of spring break alone with the two boys. In this intense togetherness, I learned a thing or two. I always knew their similarity in looks was inversely proportionate to their similarity in personality—they are complete opposites. Whiny is bookish and brooding, while Punch is the eternal optimist. If Punch were a superhero, his name would be The Silver Lining.

    Lately, though, it seems the boys are relishing their differences to the point where if Whiny says ‘black,’ Punch says ‘white’. If Whiny says ‘up,’ Punch says ‘down.’ Last week at dinner, Punch ordered a cheese pizza with no parsley. Whiny ordered a cheese pizza with extra parsley. I’m beginning to detect a pattern here.

    Now, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. The fewer decisions you cede, the better. I don’t ask what they want for dinner, I simply make the meal and put it on the table and if they don’t like it they can skip dinner. Well, that’s how it plays out in my mind, anyway. In reality, there is usually a bowl of Top Ramen involved.

    So they while away the hours disagreeing. They disagree on food, clothes, TV shows, leisure activities—in fact, disagreeing seems to be their leisure activity, and the fact that it drives me insane is simply gravy. What other reason could explain why they spend all their time together? They could go to separate rooms, watch different TV sets, get on bikes—but they don’t. They simply follow me from room to room saying things like, It’s cold in here/No it isn’t. It’s hot in here/Your face is hot in here. Shut up. You shut up. No, you shut up. You know, something just occurred to me. What if driving me crazy isn’t a simple side effect? What if driving me crazy is their endgame? They are trying to drive me crazy, and at this point it’s a very short trip. I think that is something we can all agree on. 

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