Apparently, giving your children life gives you no immunity against them joining forces and accusing you of being an evil ghost. Because when the cousins got together, shit went down. I trace the hysteria back to mentioning of the “Chocopacolypse” and also the “The Chickens Incident”. The “Chocopacolypse” occurred a few Christmases ago when several cousins, taking advantage of exhausted parents with their guards down in the early hours of the morning, discovered a box of chocolates and decimated its contents like a shark week fishstravaganza, then didn’t fully get it straight on how to lie about it, and were interrogated, then caved or lied badly, then basically admitted they had more sugar in one sitting than they ever had in their life and it was F-ING glorious. They all had at least 7 chocolates a piece, plus no regrets. We reminded them of this incident and their eyes really gleamed at their own bravery. The lesson here is to never ever tell someone you need to keep on lockdown about a time they triumphed by disobeying you.
The “Chickens Incident” occurred this Christmas when we had a cold snap, and some dead chickens, and some devastated children. Grandpa found them kneeling in the chicken coop cradling the chicken in their arms, crying buckets and singing goodbye songs, and he didn’t feel like it was his place to tell them he needed to take the chicken to throw it over the fence for the coyote buffet, and so just left them to it. Using some kid level planning skills, they decided to bury it and by luck also rediscovered the other dead chicken in the snow, so put them both in the sled and spent an hour or so wandering around the yard looking for a burial site, all the while also winning Oscars by throwing themselves over the creatures and cursing the cruel world. They finally came in wracked with grief and covered in chicken stuff. There were some parents in the “Have you ever heard of Bird Flu?!?!” camp and some in the all-microbes-are-important camp. Bird Flu won out and the horrified children had to wash their friends off themselves.
So. Some kids that want to win at misbehaving and some death stuff. Enter creepy talking baby and Naughty Kids Klub. My son asked for a talking baby for Christmas. I have always felt, and still feel, that talking toys are legit creepy, but I told this to Santa and he was all, “But the joy of Christmas,” and I was like, “Not gonna be your problem,” and he was like, “But love and giving,” and I just had to be like fine, dude, you only answer in clichés so we’re not gonna get anywhere. My son spent a day or two just breaking his back taking care of this needy baby who just kept saying in her cutsie voice, “Will you take my tempersure?” “Will you bwow my nose? Just one after another. He was busy. Then the kids claimed that she talked in the middle of the night without anyone touching her, and to myself I was like, “WHAT NOW SANTA?” Then she was “saying things she never said before” like “I wanna go to the doctor,” which seemed to fit her usual routine, but there was no room for reason at that point. Then they said the whole house is haunted, and then the parents are in on it, and you can tell which ones are by the color of their tongue and if they sleep late. (Further proof that they have conspired since birth to sabotage our sleep and there was indeed a sinister motive, not “just a developmental stage.”) Then they went full Crucible and went around checking our tongues and asking us questions. They had to have a Naughty Kids Klub (NKK) meeting about it and decided none of us could be trusted, they should stop obeying any demands, and they could answer requests with “Neh neh neh neh” and a smug look, plus it was also ok to sing songs like “Throw salami at your mommy la la la la la la. Call your daddy Mr. Fatty la la la la la la la.” Seriously. Mostly you should never ever waste salami by throwing it at someone.
I heard them hashing out the deets of the hauntings at the breakfast table. “Once my sister disappeared!” one said, and they all got quiet for a second, letting that sink in.
“One time I heard my washing machine talking! And it said ‘I’m just washin.’” Scary shit guys. They even worked themselves up to believing that one of the cousins fell out of her seat at the table because the table had it out for her. I heard my son say, “The kitchen table pushed her down and said, ‘I’m just going to kill her!” Yeesh. It got pretty real.
The only appropriate response to this madness was to hit it head on. When they were consorting in NKK pretty hard about how to take us out, my sister came on the scene cold and was informed of the developments, to which she responded, “So you’re saying I need to go up there and act like a zombie?” Brilliant. There were some terrific screams, plus more interrogations and tongue checks. Though the ghost stuff faded out, the NKK went strong till the end and I had to snuff it out on the plane home by letting them know the pilots have a zero and I mean ZERO tolerance policy for that business, and because the pilots gave them wing pins and they were so star struck they forgot their names, they dropped it like a hot potato.
But the betrayal still stings a little. After catering to their every need, loving them unconditionally, and sacrificing everything for their happiness, they proved they can turn on us at any time and decide we are zombies/ghosts because of the color of our tongues and the fact that we “sleep longer.” I just want to say here that motherhood is a joy and always will be, all the time I put in was met with equal reward, and I completely do not hold it against them that I have aged in dog years basically since I met them.