I Was Inappropriate at my Parents’ Thanksgiving Dinner

Thank you for the comments last post.  Some of them were like therapy for me.  I guess after I go through a scenario in my head and come up with a decision on what I think things mean, it never occurs to me that there might be an alternative scenario.  It was both humbling and powerful to read some of your alternatives (that were totally valid and I’d never considered.  Blew my mind.  Thank you.)

It’s been hard to write in real-time these days.  I don’t know how people do it.  But! My smallest kid is potty training now, and yesterday she Number 2’d in her training pants, and I knew I had to come back and tell you about it.

(And here is the section I’ve written and then deleted a lot of the details about the actual crapsplosian spectacular.  Because that kid will one day know how to read, and so will her friends.)

Suffice it to say: Despite all I know about the conservation of mass, this poop might have been bigger than the kid.  And after I got poop on myself (gagging now, just recalling) I said, eff all this, and I threw the pants in the washing machine.

My husband had concerns there was so much poop it might not wash out, and the washing machine would clog, and we’d have to buy a new one.

I was willing to take the risk.

So we set the machine to power-wash and turned the heat to HIGH and threw those underpants in by themselves lest we ruin any other clothes (well, except a diaper changer cover that took collateral damage).

And, hey?  It was a mistake.  Just saying.

The whole hallway smelled like Steaming Hot Poop Stew in a crockpot for the rest of the afternoon.  Should have thrown those pants away.


My dad has been dropping these little bombs.  Each is another rocking rocking-chair in some room, and I am the long-tailed cat.

We were talking about the declining health of his 90+-year-old mother.  The doctors estimate she has one-to-five years left, due to converging health problems.  After visiting her, my dad suggested I get down to see her sooner rather than later, because he thought that estimate might be too generous. “She used to be sharp as a tack,” he says in this parsing-the-evidence voice.  “But now she’s more like me.”


He was building a plane in the garage. Now he thinks it’s too big a risk to continue (I agree) and he won’t sell it because of the risk he’s done something forgetful that might make a wing fall off in flight.

What does one do with a half-made, unusable plane?  He’s quite curious on the matter.  I want to stick my fingers in my ears, because why does he think I know the answer to that?  He’s been building a plane from scratch for the last five years.  Five years I’ve been listening to his excitedly talk about his airplane flying buddies, and his plans to take Mom on jaunts from grandbaby house to grandbaby house (once my sisters have children).  Watching  a bunch of metal become something recognizable out in the garage has been an amazing thing to see – a feat of his own hands and brains and determination.  It’s sat, untouched, for months now.  His asking me where to get rid of it feels a bit like the end of Old Yeller, with him casually discussing which shotgun will do the best job.


For the holidays, my Mother-in-Law came into town, and we all went to my folks.  Over dinner, my dad started to talk about the coffins at Costco, and what he wanted at his funeral, and how, since very technically he’d served in a war, there was possibly a loophole in which the government would pay for his burial costs.  Cool, right?

I sat there, eyes huge, dinner spoiling in my stomach.  Everyone asked polite follow up questions.  I squirmed.  My dad opined in detail about the options.

I said, “can we talk about something else?” Nobody heard this – possibly I only screamed it in my head?  My father elaborated on the shocking expense of funerals these days.

My mother joked that he didn’t need to worry about the money – she was burying him in a cardboard box.  Then she kissed his forehead and they laughed.  Because my mom has always had this gift that she can stay with people, no matter where they go.  I don’t have it.

I say too loud, in front of my MIL and my husband and my kids, “I’d rather talk about colonoscopies than this.”

My MIL looks at me with something akin to horror – which, I guess FYI, sarcastic ass comments to one’s parents isn’t considered the highpoint of witty repartee as it might be on, say, the internet.  But (as I so delicately only thought at the dinner table and did not say, so… yay me?): Fuck this noise and all noises arising from it.

In the awkward silence that followed, my father deadpanned from across the table, “Well, Anne, what’s new in colonoscopies?”  and proceeded to await my answer.

What makes it hard to write about, or even think about sometimes, is that I’m never quite sure if

1) I’m being a terrific ass in face of my parents’ super-well adjusted attitude.  Or

2) I’m the only sane person in a room of denial-laden fucknuts.  Or sometimes, worse,

3) I know I’m being an ass, but helplessly pushed into the role of the hysterical teenager because there’s this vacuum in our family in which someone must acknowledge the stress but no one’s willing to do it, so I get thrown under the familial bus, shrieking hysterically all the while.  And

4) what I really want to scream is, “You’re not dying, you’re just getting senile,” but that is way harsh, Tai.

Writing this feels like the lowest, cowardly gossip.