The Strangelings

October 23, 2019

We are only ten minutes into the hike and I am ready to throttle Littlest Minx.

She has a litany of complaints: It’s too hot. It’s too sunny (sunshine in Seattle, how dare you?) Her water bottle isn’t full enough. Her feet hurt. She needs a bench to sit down, because she is ex-HAUS-ted. She is thirteen and has to spend time with her family. Life is full of everlasting fuckery and she’s not going to let us forget it.

I turn to my husband and hiss, “That child is never, ever, going to Europe with us. Can you see that child moping her way through the Louvre? Recoiling at the crowds on the Tube? Scowling through the Coliseum in Rome? With all of those sweaty bodies and the dust?”

“Well, she wouldn’t be impressed, and Jesus, she wouldn’t eat anything, anyways,” he laughs. “I guess she could live on eclairs and gelato?”

“Technically, yeah. I think she could. But I don’t wanna be around for the Poo Baby.”

He loses it. “Oh man. Just…don’t go there. That’s terrifying.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our misfit family and the thing that is the Poo Baby.

The Poo Baby is a vacation phenomenon. It afflicts only female members of the family and it usually happens around day 3 of travel. Too much sitting in an airplane, where you willingly dehydrate yourself because the airplane toilets are jarringly loud and stinky and scary. Too much strange hotel food. Too many grab-and-go meals when you’re on the run, trying to squeeze one more thing into your daily itinerary.

You think it’s all fine and good until, on day 3 of vacation, everyone with an xy chromosome looks pregnant. We are cookin’ up something, and it’s not pretty. It also (alas) is here to stay unless you take some drastic measures. And the thing is, we never learn. We don’t. At least half a day of every. single. vacation. is devoted to the attention and expunging of the Poo Baby. We never know who is going to be afflicted, but it’s a certainty.

Sometimes, the Poo Baby rears its ugly head during a hike in beautiful, verdant, dog-filled parks in Seattle and you gotta hustle, mothersucker, and we make it but barely.

Later, younger child is in a much better mood. She will agree to 20 more minutes of hiking.

This is a gift that we aren’t going to squander so we tromp around and pet every dog that halfway wags its tail.

At least I do.

“Mom. You know that you can actually SEE a dog without yelling, ‘Dog!’ at the top of your lungs.”

How quickly the familial landscape changes, minute by minute with the dazzling strain of the teenage years.

I’m trying to ride it out, but let’s be honest. Nobody knows who the fuck is driving this bus.

I can pretend, though. With carefully packed lunches and stacks of folded laundry.

Do you think they are fooled?

Is anybody?


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Elizabeth October 30, 2019 at 12:28 pm

It’s amazing how the expunging of a Poo Baby can so effectively alter a mood. Also, I’m pretty sure you and Michael are kindred spirits on the dog thing. (He has a tendency to, uh, name them after we see them.)


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