Sorry, we’re late. Something else to blame on the school system. For some reason, they didn’t let us out this year until December 21st. And then we had to get ready for Christmas, and fly to Missouri for a week, and well, it just took a while for Marjie to get to the letter! But here it is…
The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2007
10. Even the smallest among us can be superheroes. Hailey’s feet are now bigger than Auntie Karen’s. At any given time, she only has a few pairs of shoes that fit. So one day when she kicked them off outside and one sailed into nastily scratchy juniper bushes, we were not happy. David, then Marjie, stomped into the prickles and searched under the blazing sun for half an hour. Sweating, bleeding, and with aching backs, we stalked off. Just then, Anna emerged from the house covered in pink – boots, leggings, fuzzy gloves pulled up to her armpits, and a feathery hat. She waded out into the waist-high hedge and found the shoe in seconds. We declared her a superhero and celebrated Anna and her favorite color for the rest of the day.
9. The culture invades whether you want it to or not. We don’t watch wrestling. We don’t discuss it. We flip past the ads. And while Marjie and David will admit to a crazy date to see WWF, it was in our distant past. So we weren’t prepared when the girls asked to borrow the comforter off our bed. The next thing we knew, Mad Dog and the Pink Flamingo were taking turns attacking it on the living room floor while the other sat on the couch doing commentary. The comforter even got out of the ring and “accidentally” whacked the audience members. We have no idea where this came from. We’re worried body art may be next.
8. Some family issues just keep on giving. Grandma was visiting and on the phone with Marjie’s younger sister Barbara, when Hailey came screaming in, “I’m going to tell Grandma! She’s going to give you a timeout!” Little sister Anna didn’t even bother trying to explain. She ran straight to her room and sat on her bed, muttering, “I don’t care. It was worth it.” If this wasn’t bad enough, Barbara, who apparently never got over being oppressed, cheered Anna on from Iowa with, “You go, girl!”
7. Let the kids cook. Eight-year-old Hailey wanted to make dinner and chased us all out of the kitchen. Not allowed to use the stove, she carefully sliced bananas, grapes, tangerines, celery, carrots, and green onion. She asked where the bread was, then the chocolate pudding. Despite the fact that it was a chilly February evening, she set up a picnic in the front yard. So there we sat in deepening twilight eating fruit and veggie salad. The main course was chunks of the salad with a smear of chocolate pudding on wheat bread. Dessert was the salad mixed into chocolate pudding. We let Hailey use the stove now. Her French toast and omelets are quite tasty.
6. Manners apparently travel. For years, we have reminded our daughters to use “princess bites” not “ogre bites” with some success. Then as Anna stuffed her face one day, Grandma asked, “What happened to princess bites?” Hailey popped in with, “They went West.” Since then princess bites have been to Japan, Europe, Russia, and Missouri, but strangely, never where our children are.
5. Sometimes your children will say what you can’t. David used to spend a lot of time in the garage. He’s built three boats now, including a sailboat, and still has Formula Vee racecar out there. When he’s working, he keeps his wedding ring on his key chain. It’s become something of a habit, and Marjie has silently noticed that the ring is on the key chain for days at a time. Anna took care of it for her when she asked, “Daddy, will you wear your key chain?”
4. Scouting brings families together. After she bridged to Junior Girl Scout, Hailey wanted to earn her first badge by taking care of pets. She did all of the feeding and watering of the cats for two weeks, but she just couldn’t face the litter box. David promised to help her. Anna, who actually likes cleaning the litter box, offered to show her how. Even Marjie got involved. So there we were one Saturday, gathered around a bunch of cat poop, cheering Hailey on. If it weren’t for scouting, our family activities would be so different.
3. You just can‘t get good help these days. David drives Anna to kindergarten near where Marjie teaches in Cupertino. It’s a twenty-minute drive, so when he realized Anna had gone “commando,” he knew he was in trouble. David sped over to Sears where no one could help him find the children’s clothes, no one could tell him exactly where the underwear was, and then the clerk tried to get him to take a survey. The one thing they did give him, he didn‘t need – a bag for his purchase. Anna was wearing the merchandise as they raced out the door.
2. Santa needs to give up on boy toys. The yellow Tonka dump Hailey got when she was two languishes in the back yard. The drill-your-own-parts racecar has been pretty much buried in a drawer for four years. We do at least one large load of pink laundry a week. Yet David still dreams of camo. Last year, Santa tried slipping Hot Wheels cars into their stockings. On Christmas morning, the girls came running into our bedroom, insisted Santa had made a mistake, and put them on David’s pillow.
1. Good parenting pays off at odd moments. We arrived at the Vancouver airport just under an hour early. Of course, we didn’t expect Horizon Air to serve not a single person in line. Minutes before departure, people started yelling that they had flights to catch. The gate agent told us we’d have to hand carry our baggage. We had a quick conference with the girls and Team Parker was born. Everyone had to carry as much as they could, do what any parent said instantly, and RUN! David took the lead finding the signs, Hailey kept him barely in sight, Anna followed, and Marjie trailed far behind counting kids. The adults knew that one wrong turn, one stop to look at a window, or the briefest bad attitude could make us miss our flight. Through security, through an uncaring immigration agent, through miles of airport hallways, we took shoes on and off, flashed paperwork, answered questions, wrestled bags, and ran, getting to the gate so late that Marjie didn’t even hear the last call. Anna didn’t tell us until after the plane landed that she had scraped her finger on a wall without stopping to cry. We’re proud of Team Parker. Our kids aren’t angels, but they were champions on that day.
We hope that your family is full of champions, angels, superheroes, and good cooks, and that your holidays were as fun and happy as ours were.
David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna, Bentley & Harley