Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back to Chaos

'You have to make it fun for them.'

Angie's words were ringing in my ears as we drove to visit her on day two of her hospital stay. Peter broke my concentration with a question that I'm pretty sure he would not have asked if Mama had been in the car.

'Can I roll down my window?'

There is no speed limit in Germany on a lot of the highways, so we were cruising at 140 km (around 90 mph). I was about to explain when one of the voices in my head reminded me. 'You have to make it fun for them.'

'Go for it!'

The insane giggling could still be heard over the roar of the wind. It brought a smile to my face, which was something I had not predicted at the beginning of day two.

In the weeks that followed, Angie's mantra would lead to a lot of things that probably would never have happened.

'Papa, can I have an ice-cream for breakfast?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can we go to McDonald's every day for lunch?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can we make milkshakes for dinner?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can I climb up the side of an elevator wearing Crocs that are two sizes too big?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can we ignore the big "NO TRESPASSING" signs and go check out the cool helicopter next to the hospital?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can all three of us get into the tub and splash gallons of water onto the floor?'

'Go for it!'

'Papa, can we ball up all of the newspapers that Mama isn't here to read and use them for a summer-time snowball fight?'

'Go for it!'

I like that in the end, David and Tommy teamed up to take Peter down. Peter apparently didn't like this.

'Papa, can I punch David and Tommy in the belly?'

'Buddy, I have to draw the line somewhere.'

So, yeah - I think you get the point. I tried making it fun for them.

We also went for a visit every day. Understandably, the trips in the beginning were a bit solemn.

After a week or so, the boys got into playing games with Mama.

I love this shot because the expressions speak volumes.

David's is saying 'Who won? Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh biggity-bonk yeah!'

Peter's is saying 'If you don't stop gloating, I'm gonna drop-kick you in the teeth.'

Mama's is saying 'If Peter tilts his card just a little more, I'm so totally gonna cheat.'

Angie was still in the hospital when Christine and George flew in. For some reason, my family normally tends to visit us for one, max two days. For my sister, it was two days.

Angie wasn't up for a hospital visit, though, so I had to entertain. My managerial background kicked in and I simply delegated the task.

'Boys! Go have fun with your cousins!'

After scaring some hearing-sensitive neighbors, the boys took Patrick and Stephanie to the bridge over the Neckar.

After scaring some hearing-sensitive swans, the cousins broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest picnic ever. Ever.  

After scaring off hearing-sensitive humans, the loud ones turned on me.

'We want ice-cream, and we want it NOW!'

'Uh, umm...Go for it?'

After an ear-piercing afternoon with five sugar-packed wildlings, nothing hits the spot like a bottle or two of wine.

After this lovely gem, Stephanie announced to everyone that she loved David and that they would be getting married soon.

Shortly after Stephanie's impromptu proclamation, Christine ordered another glass of wine. Make it a double. Then, like the ass I am, I tricked my older sister into playing a funny game with the kids.

I felt guilty, so I reminded Christine of two things:
  1. I was taking pictures.
  2. I write a blog where I tend to embarrass immediate family members.
In her defense, there was a slight pause before she responded.

Shortly after, George called for the bill and we said our goodbyes.

A few days later, we visited Angie on her last night at the hospital. I tried to strike up a conversation that would subliminally warn her of the state of our apartment. As if it were a sign that things were slowly returning back to chaos, she completely ignored me.

'Steve! The boys have been eating McDonald's every single day. You have to promise me that you're not going to McDonald's tonight.'

'I promise.'

As we left the hospital, we passed a McDonald's, which was conveniently located right next to the hospital.

'Papa, can we go to McDonald's for dinner?'

'Nope, sorry. I promised Mama that I would not take you to McDonald's.'

The boys complained, but only briefly. They know by now that whines and nags are the two things that I can expertly tune out.

As we entered Heidelberg, I remembered the promise to Angie that I would not take the boys to McDonald's for dinner and simply drove past the second set of golden arches. As we passed Burger King, though, my brain nudged me - should we?

'Go for it!'

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