More Amazing Than Amazing
This year we were very successful in our attempt to not do anything noteworthy.
Let’s start with news about the most important person in the family—me. When Nikole said, “Let’s take the family photo today.” I made sure everyone wore earth tones while I wore the brightest orange shirt I could find. Actually, I wore that shirt so I might avoid being struck by a car on our annual family bike ride to celebrate Dad’s 39th birthday. I am still an instructor of graphic design at the technical college in town. The school pays me wheelbarrows full of money to teach young people to design advertisements that convince people to spend wheelbarrows full of money. I rode my bike a lot more last summer. I never got fast. I spent a lot of time being noticeably slower than my peers and those much older than me. Every Sunday I made my kids do the 10-mile ride home from church. I crushed them with my middle-aged speed, because they are the only people I can crush anymore.
Nikole is amazing. She does everything. If I told you all she does, it would make you throw up. But don’t worry, because she would clean it up with one hand while she made my breakfast with the other hand, all the while maintaining safe food handling techniques. Actually, she never makes my breakfast. She crawls out of bed every morning at 5A.M. to meet her buddies and train for 5K runs and half marathons and such. When I am walking out the door to ride my bike to work, she is bustling in carrying a couple gallons of milk and some bananas. Before her coat hits the floor, she is cooking malt-o-meal and getting the kids ready for home school. That is about all she does. She maintains a high level of fitness, teaches home school and cooks meals for her family. I think the busyness might drive her crazy, but I wonder if the knowledge that she is stronger than all those cry baby professional football players you see on TV helps her to cope. Or is it a miraculous peace from God that keeps her from snapping and backing over her family with a full size van?
Helen is 14 years old and is in her first year of home school high school. She takes care of my chickens and my parakeet. She takes care of her younger siblings. She devotes the rest of her time to her on-line history and French classes. She neglects all her other classes and can no longer read, spell or do simple addition. But, she is really cute. She swims, plays the piano and draws beautiful arrangements of fruit and glassware. She recently won the Winter Rec Fest button design contest, for which she will receive a full ride scholarship to the University of Minnesota–Bemidji (or maybe it was $25 — I cannot remember which).
“Don’t believe anything my father says. I am the perfect child. I never scream at my younger siblings. And they never scream at each other over important things like rubber dresses for three inch dolls.”
Claire is 12 years old. Claire hates everything except Katniss Everdeen. (A little culture check for you there. Katniss is a book character who can shoot an arrow through the eye of a squirrel from 30 yards away.) Claire has dropped out of home school and devotes her time to reading fictional books about young people with super powers. She swims with the YMCA team seven or eight times a week. She is shooting for the 2016 Olympics. She wishes there were an Olympic event in which the competitors swim fast then pull out their bows and shoot unsuspecting spectators off the side of the pool. When Claire is not swimming or breaking laws governing the use of weapons in city limits, she is drawing pictures of young people with super powers and very long, skinny legs.
“Dad, that’s not true! I don’t lurk around the yard pretending to be in the Hunger Games after drawing on myself with markers. I just like making tattoos. And my drawings are getting better — the legs aren’t so skinny. And they’re not all about people with super powers. I do do all my school work. [Claire, tell us what you do instead of just negating everything I wrote in the letter.] Well I… I… I guess I do just sit on the couch and read about people with super powers.”
Ten-year-old Edward is a boy. But not the kind of boy who pounds nails into the back door, gets in fights, and jumps off the garage roof. He is the kind of boy who talks about his feelings and snuggles up on the couch reading fictional books about young people with super powers. He wages complex psychological warfare on his younger sisters. Edward ran his first 5k this year. He also swims and plays the piano.
“I think I am a little needing to pound a nail into something sometime.”
Ruthie (seven years old) is going to rule the world someday. I am warning you now. She is intelligent and successful at whatever she does. (If she is not immediately successful at a thing, she slowly melts into a sobbing gelatinous mass so annoying that her trainer vows never to broach the offending subject again.) Everything good in the house belongs to her. If a sibling owns anything desirable, she will convince him or her to relinquish ownership sort of like how Jacob took the birthright from Esau. I will not be surprised when one day she convinces the president to hand over the reins of leadership and then convinces congress to do away with those pesky elections. I can’t wait to hang out with her in the white house. Ruthie swims and plays the piano. She draws mermaids.
“I really actually play with my little sister and I’m not as mean as my dad says. And I’m not going to rule the world like my Dad says. I’m going to grow up and I’m going to be a nurse like my mom.”
Five-year-old Bethany is pure and kind. (I expect that when Ruthie rises to power, she will have Bethany put in an iron mask and exiled to the island of Patmos because of the annoying contrast caused by Bethany’s beautiful character.) Bethany smiles from the time she wakes until she goes to sleep. Bethany will melt into a sobbing gelatinous mass if someone leaves the house without giving her a meaningful goodbye hug. Bethany can swim across the YMCA pool without touching once. Bethany can read, but would rather be read to. She draws detailed copies of her older sister’s mermaid drawings.
“No I don’t really copy her. I just draw mermaids. I would like them to know that I can read. Well, some people might know that.”
Three-year-old Lydia is the great ignored one. She mostly walks around the house clutching a blanket, sucking her thumb and observing the chaos. She is excellent at whispering tales of intrigue as she manipulates a couple of Ruthie’s cast-off Barbie dolls. She sits quietly in the laps of older siblings and watches them figuring algebra problems. On rare occasions she may demand someone read her a book. Lydia does not draw, swim or play the piano. Lydia enjoys being held and going on bike rides and car trips.
Lydia: “I like to draw and color.”
Nikole: “I would say she’s not ignored. She’s so stinking cute, we are always picking her up and covering her in kisses and tickles.”
Our parakeet is a talented singer. Our chickens are in their winter doldrums, not producing any eggs but still consuming food. I still don’t have a dog.
In truth, the Lord has blessed us this year. We aren’t making headlines with our wild success, but we aren’t under a lot of stress either. We hope you are blessed with health and prosperity this year.
Happy Christmas from the Hales.