The family that’s weird together … | VailDaily.com
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The family that’s weird together …

Daily Staff Report

It was just a little over a month ago, Halloween night, when the 4-year-old and I were engaged in a particularly odd occupation: creating “mummy boogers” by skewering raisins on toothpicks and toasting them over the flame of a jack-o-lantern. Andy took it as gospel that this was how mummy boogers were created, and it made no difference to him that I had just invented the whole thing between the kitchen and the living room.Things were getting weird, but as we say in my house, it was “good weird,” not “weird weird” – like when someone follows you home from school wearing a Dick Cheney mask, mumbling in Basque.”Weirdo” is the most common soft epithet hurled in our family, and it’s used in the most loving way. With many decades of silliness under my belt (I routinely spoke backwards as a kid and made up words like “bongalafucci”), I’ve determined that the family that’s silly together – or weird, or fun or whatever you want to call it – is a lot less likely to need therapy, serotonin uptake inhibitors or separate living quarters.Plus, family is a place where you can be yourself. I’m a juggernaut in the morning, usually having been up for several hours by the time the teens and tweens stumble into the kitchen to forage for cereal. I might sing a little song of welcome, speak in odd, faux-Victorian sentences or suggest something outrageous like they should empty the dishwasher. They usually respond by calling me a weirdo, which is fine. The respect is still there, cleverly concealed behind a smile and whatever modicum of teen cool they’re feeling that morning.I was never really able to tease my father, whose Zeus-like countenance relaxed only when he was skiing or camping. But he did like a good water fight, and there was also something called “Wild Bull” when we were younger. This involved Dad getting down on all fours and bucking like mad to throw us off. It ended when one of our craniums made contact with a hard, immovable object. We loved it at least those of us who didn’t have to be triaged by Mom.My version of “Wild Bull” is, I suppose, kinda wimpy by comparison. Called, simply, “Horsey,” it involves Andy riding atop while the 14-year-old plays the part of a malevolent jaguar trying to steal Horsey’s shoes (aka my slippers). Horsey occasionally dies, but he is revived by a handful of magic alfalfa pellets administered lovingly by Andy – who then demands the freshly resurrected steed get up and get moving.”Horsey” is often followed by “The Flying Burrito,” which is a game I wish I’d never invented because it involves the expenditure of an awful lot of energy, usually in the evening when I’d prefer to be supine on the couch. Andy lies on the edge of a blanket, is coated with toppings (cheese, olives, sour cream, etc., all with accompanying sound effects) and rolled up. I then grab both ends, spin him around a few times saying “who wants a flying burrito?” (Andy: “I do! I do!”) and then launch him into the couch. I then grab hold of the blanket and quickly unfurl the contents of the giggling burrito onto the couch.Then he asks that I do it 10 more times. We negotiate it down to five; I give him seven. We go to bed after singing the toothbrush song.I remember, as a single guy, seeing men surrounded by children and actually feeling sorry for them. Now, it’s the other way around. Every night is a party in my house, every morning an impromptu floor show. Occasionally I long for the single days, when I could watch whatever I wanted on TV or read a book in silence.Mostly, though, I revel in it all and relish the fact that I’ve got at least 14 more years of kids in the house.And then there’s always grandchildren to teach the ways of weirdness …Alex Miller can be reached at 970-949-0555, ext. 14625 or at amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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