Reunited and it feels so good.

I’ve talked a bit in the past about untitledhusband’s youngest brother. He’s the one who we think is a serial killer. OK, so maybe he hasn’t technically killed a human yet. But let’s not let that little detail stand in the way of what I believe is his true calling.

Anyways, the 22 year-old deadbeat (I will refer to him as “the deadbeat” for the remainder of this post, for it provides me a modicum of comfort in this otherwise joyless scenario) moved back home recently because he got evicted from his own place. I never knew it worked this way, but it seems the more you ignore your bills and shun full-time employment, the more the road rises to meet you. Mom and dad swoop in, buy your meals, slip you twenties for gas (which you then spend on lap dances and Swiss Cake Rolls) and ask your older brother why he hasn’t given you better direction in life. Sigh.

The move-out was quite interesting for the shock value, if nothing else. He and his two roommates screwed their landlord out of rent. How many months’ rent, we do not know. On top of this, they chose to leave the home in a state of squalor – and I don’t mean dust bunnies and smudged windows. There was animal feces and hair everywhere, moldy dishes each with their own orbit of flies, and an orange fuzzy bathtub. I didn’t actually see this, mind you. untitledhusband wouldn’t even let me go inside, which is saying something. This is a guy who makes me sleep on the side of the bed that’s closest to the bedroom door, so that I may serve as a speedbump in case an intruder pops in for a look-see. Perhaps we should’ve dropped a little envelope of meth and a bottle of Spic and Span at their doorstep a few months ago. That place would’ve been cleaner than Star Jones’ post-op GI tract.

In between armfuls of boxes and garbage bags filled with soiled laundry, untitledmother-in-law stopped by our car to say, “I’m so happy we’re getting him out of here.” What do you mean, getting HIM out of HERE? This IS him. HE did this. In that instant, I saw what was to be the neverending denial of responsibility. After loading up his belongings, which included an electric guitar, a mountain bike and a few other things that reeked of misappropriation, mom and dad chauffeured him home — they in their old rusty pick-up truck and he in his two-year old vehicle. I’m not saying he didn’t work to earn it. He went to great lengths to trash it, seeing as his parents were making the payments.

Reliable sources tell us that they spent the weekend as a family. If he is capable of anything, it is of knowing just how much grease the wheel needs to turn in his direction. They made a special trip to the fair, so fat ass could get himself a funnel cake. He suggested they grill out, and hey, why not make it steaks. They even went to the movies together. Awwwww. I’m guessing Sunday was a bit slower, since mom needed time to wash his grundies and unpack his belongings. It was cause for celebration, the prodigal son returning home, demanding Black Angus, laundry service and a little bubbly to mark the occasion.

So here I sit, with all this rage and anger, knowing damn well there is nothing I can do about this situation. untitledhusband has talked to his mom, and she just says, “We HAVE cut him off. We aren’t doing anything for him that we didn’t do fo you.” (which is flaming shit-sack full of lies). It’s a futile conversation, a waste of breath, because untitledmother-in-law is in denial about this situation. She is convinced that if they just help him out this one last time, he will be instantly reincarnated into Suze Orman.

I’m sure someone out there has a similar experience and some wisdom to share. What will it take to open up untitledmother-in-law’s eyes? Is there anything that we can do or say? Justice is in order. I just wish I knew how to bring it about.

Three times a lady.

untitledmother-in-law has no faults, other than her unbridled lust for cheap vinyl shoes and her dogged desire to spoil her youngest son to the point where all life skills wither away and he’s forced to return to her bosom where he can quite literally spend the remainder of his days sucking the life out of her. Far be it from me to let a sweet, god-fearing woman escape my unforgiving death ray of judgment and criticism. So here goes.

Whenever the whole fam damnly gets together to go out to eat, shop, or watch “Gaither Homecoming” at the local titty bar, untitledmother-in-law’s mind starts a-working. No sooner do we burst out of the house and pour out into the front yard than she breaks out her abacus to see just how many adults can fit into the least amount of vehicles. “I’m sure we can get by with two cars if Uncle Charlie sticks his feet out the sunroof and if Aunt Tess sits on my head,” she cheerfully reports.

Good god. If I had a dime for every time she said the words “I’m sure we could get by with,” it just might equal the amount of money she has saved in her lifetime by buying Dr. Thunder and Toasty O’s and weaving rugs out of old plastic bread sacks. She finds special joy in shopping the clearance racks at Wal-Mart – all while lamenting about how sad it is that her husband’s factory is cutting back on raises and moving jobs overseas. This is a woman that not only pinches pennies, she puts them into an industrial compress, grinds them into dust and then peppers her ramen noodles with them. untitledhusband once asked her how it feels to steal milk money from the five year-old Cambodian child who made her $3 shirt. She pretended not to hear, even though she knew it was a valid point.

The fact that nothing gets her more wet than Crazy Days at the dollar store makes her habit of purchasing anything sold via a “party” perplexing. She recently dropped $235 on, of all things, stamping paraphernalia. To this day, it all sits unused in a box in her bedroom. For fuck’s sake. Imagine the amount of honest-to-goodness brand-name cereal you could’ve bought with that kind of money. You could’ve blown your colon to the moon and back with the amount of fiber contained in that much breakfast food.

Some may say that it’s selfish and wasteful to indulge in such frivolities as circulation and safety, but sweet Jesus, what’s the harm in taking three cars? I would gladly sell $5 hand jobs at my son’s lemonade stand if it meant the money earned would go towards taking a third car. She has this “make-do” mentality, where if we’re not all getting by with less than we need, we’re being wasteful. It’s the same line of thought that compels her to cut a 9 X 12 birthday cake into 60 pieces. And may I go on record as saying that as a fat chick, I find nothing fun about fun-sized food.

But alas, all these thoughts remain in my head. I have yet to say, “How about we live a little and take THREE cars!” Perhaps it’s because the propulsion expert in me knows that if we get into an accident, I would be safer with three people on each side of me. Since untitledmother-in-law was too cheap to spring for the side curtain airbags, each person would act as cushioning agent against the oncoming death blow. There now. I KNEW if I dug deep enough, I’d find some logic in taking two cars.

At the movies.

We took untitledson to the movie “Cars” this weekend. Now I know what rated G really means — “God Damned Happy to be Getting Out the House.” At first, I was excited enough just to be at the movie theater without having to pay a babysitter. But as we walked by all the other options, I wondered if untitledson would notice if we ducked in to see “The Da Vinci Code” instead. “See, there’s a car, honey! I told you we’d see cars!”

Much to his credit, untitledson was pretty attentive during the movie. But then again, how could he NOT be. Talking cars, spinning wheels, a farting tow truck — it was pretty much porn for three year-old boys. The fact that grown men (just going off the names I saw in the credits here) could so easily tap into the minds of little boys proves my point — they never actually grow up at all. They just get hairier and hornier and more spoiled. I could almost hear untitledson’s arteries harden like as he took his first bite of movie theater popcorn. After a few chews, he gave me this look, as if thinking, “Why you been holdin’ out on me, beotch? Hard to attract dem ho’s when I’m forced to eat those game-killing Teddy Grahams. This here is what I’m talkin’ bout. Now pass the salt.”

He went to the bathroom three times, which might have something to do with the fact that he was taking pulls every two minutes of off untitledhusband’s bladder buster of soda. Yes, I know — many three year-olds slug Coke and Pop Rocks for breakfast. But we like to keep such things from him as much as possible. I don’t want him to turn out like me, you see. Perhaps I cannot control that, but I’m doing my best to cultivate his tastes for tofu and root vegetables, and educate him about the perils of junk food (it’s a “once-in-a-while food, not an everyday food”). I feel rather good about the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times he has eaten fast food. The number of times he’s seen me eat fast food, that’s another thing (KIDDING, people). Still, I never tire of hearing him ask, “What’s in your MOUF?” “Raisins, honey. Raisins.”

The terrific threes.

Every year since untitledson was born, I’ve written a letter to him highlighting the past year’s events. Since I have untitledlife now, I decided to write the letter and share it with ya’ll. Yes, I know Dooce does something similiar, but I have been doing this yearly letter thing since 2004.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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Dear untitledson,

I feel so bad, writing this letter almost four months after your third birthday. Life’s been so busy – we’re getting ready to build a new house, which means new doorstops for you to twiddle and a new room from which to run your growing operation for world domination. This past year has been the one in which you’ve transformed from my baby to my little man. But oh, those cheeks of yours – they tell a different tale!

At daycare, we have you enrolled in a weekly music class, where you sing songs, shake jingles, beat on drums and dance with scarves. Your music teacher, Ms. Tonia, tells us that you enjoy yourself and dive right in, often getting so excited that you stumble on your words. Whenever I ask you how music class was, I only get a “fine.” Your lack of description leads me to think that you’re preparing us for your teen years, when the only words you’ll utter will be “fine,” “OK,” and “can I use the car?” When you don’t think I’m listening, I’ll often hear you sing snippets of unfamiliar songs – ones I know that we didn’t teach you. Around St. Patrick’s Day, you were singing some song about a leprechaun hiding in the hay. You pronounced it “leper-con.” Pretty darned cute.

In addition to music class, you are also taking dance class. Originally, I did not sign you up for this class, since you’re already enrolled in music class. But your teachers informed me that you threw a fit when you saw your girlfriend Emery going to dance class without you. So we signed you up. You are the only boy in the class, but from all accounts, you thoroughly enjoy it. I have no idea what you do in dance class, other than stretching and something called the “side-step,” which you’ve talked about.

One of your favorite TV shows has been “Jack’s Big Music Show,” which stars three critters who play drums, guitar and accordion. As a result, you have insisted on having your very own guitar, accordion and drum set (which we keep saying Santa will bring to you). Whenever you watch this show, or any other show with music, you will run and get your guitar and play along with the music. You’ll catch your reflection in the fireplace glass and go through several rock star poses and pouty faces before you realize we’re watching and you get all shy. Other TV shows you like right now include “Pinky Dinky Doo” and “Doodlebops.” You claim to have outgrown “Blue’s Clues,” which I think is quite tragic. Steve’s voice is quite calming to me, in a strange Mister Rogers sort of way.

At daycare, you have become known as quite the ladies’ man. Your best friend forever is Emery. You two have been together since you were both in your momma’s tummies (Emery’s mommy and I work together). Recently, you’ve also taken up with a little girl named Madison. From what your teachers tell me, this made little Miss Emery none too happy. But you are oblivious. You have this shy, aloof personality, which seems to draw the little girls to you. Mommy also makes sure her little honeypot is a natty dresser, which only helps your game.

In the past few months, I’ve been working on a lot of freelance at night. This means that you and Daddio have gotten even closer. It’s clear that you look up to your Daddy, and you like to have the same as him (“We got the SAME!”), whether it’s a shirt with buttons, or a mini rake so you can both tackle lawn work. Your Daddy is a disciplined man who always has a million things going on at any given time, and you bring out this warm, loving, caring side of him. He’d do absolutely anything for you, as would I. Of course, this tidbit of information makes us extremely vulnerable to trips to Disneyland, new bicycles and the occasional sucker. We’ll do our best not to spoil you rotten, but it’s going to be hard.

From a development perspective, you have been potty trained since February 2006 (thanks, Grandma!). Your dad and I took a week-long vacation and left you with Grandma and Pappa. When we came back, she had you all potty trained! It was amazing, because when we left, you weren’t even close to being trained. It didn’t interest you in the least. Just recently (like in May), we did away with the Pull-Ups at night. You’ve been dry every morning so far. What a big boy – completely potty trained at 3 years of age!

As for things you like to do, you love to swing in the backyard and push your bubble mower around in the driveway. You pull it up to the stoop, and I fill ‘er up for you with bubble liquid. You know most of your alphabet letters by sight, and you love to help out in the kitchen. You help me mix up food, and you put the recyclables in the bin. You also love it when we read books to you. Some of your favorites right now include this book that explains everything about fire engines and firefighters, “Olivia” books, “My Truck Book,” and “Corduroy.” We’ve noticed that once we read a book to you five or six times, you can then recite the majority of it back to us by memory, inflections and all. At Christmastime, we read you “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Within a few weeks, you could recite it to us, which was quite impressive considering the lengthy verses and the old English words like “twas” and “kerchief.”

We’ve started what everyone tells us is a bad habit by letting you crawl in to bed with us at night. You always begin the evening in your bedroom. But as soon as we tuck you in and head down the stairs, you truck on over to our bed, usually toting with you a few toys, stuffed animals and books. It’s not uncommon for us to find Hot Wheels and CDs in our bed at night. We’re almost positive that having you sleep with us is something we will one day regret. But right now, we love it. Nothing beats snuggling up to you at night, with that sweet lavender scent of Johnson’s & Johnson’s Calming Baby Lotion wafting up from your tiny, curled-up body. I give you tight squeezes throughout the night, and pull you towards me. You wriggle a bit, letting me know that my love is a bit too strong for three in the morning.

We found out this year that we can’t have any more children. We tried really hard for about a year and half, but nothing took. It’s been sad for us, because we always wanted you to have a sibling – someone to pal around with and share the burden of caring for us when we get old and decrepit. It just wasn’t in the grand master plan, I guess. But at the same time, we feel so grateful that we have you. You’re so perfect, the world has decided that we only get one of you. Bequeathing any more blessings onto us would be unfair to the rest of the parents out there who only get average children. We have no doubt that you will have no problem keeping our lives full, and we thank you for that. You are such a gift, and you give each day purpose and meaning for us.

All my love,

Mommy

Child of God.

This last weekend was untitledhusband’s younger (adopted) sister’s confirmation. She is 16 and – I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this before – she is mentally challenged. As we were sitting there at the party, satisfied by the fact that we were able to pilfer a corner piece of cake and avoid the Brazil nuts amidst the bowl of cashews, I sensed an awkwardness in the air.

In many aspects, this was like any other party. People came from states away. Cakes were baked. Punch was made. Gifts were given. Yet I wasn’t the only one who noticed that at the center of it all was this girl – a child – who has trouble combing her own hair and still watches Arthur from time to time. Aside from Christmas and Easter, she has very little concept of God. And to her, this whole confirmation thing was more about getting an iPod than anything else (which makes her just like every other 16 year-old, I guess).

But still, I say shame on us for confirming someone who doesn’t really understand what confirmation is. I’ll even go one further – shame on us for baptizing or confirming anyone into any organization before the age of 18. What kind of cult wants you to sign on the dotted line before you can even drink a beer? I believe it’s the Amish who send their 18 year-olds out into the world to live independently before they decide if they’ll spend the rest of their days harvesting wheat with a machete or playing “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” with their homies and smoking hydroponic fatties. I expect as much wisdom from those who carve rocking chairs out of an Oak tree with little more than a pocket knife.

Certainly, it won’t hurt untitledsister-in-law to sit in church every Sunday and recite chants that she and probably half the church members don’t understand. But let’s just say I’m a little skeptical about any organization that would confirm a girl like her, at this point in her life. I’m all for her being part of a church if it brings her joy. But make no mistake – churches are businesses. They want members, because they want to grow. They want to grow, so they can bring in more money. They want more money, so they can keep the Pope in red velvet Armani slippers.

This girl isn’t going anywhere. And I doubt if she’ll be dropping a 20 in the offering plate anytime soon. So how about waiting to confirm her until she is a bit older, people. Like until she’s able to microwave a bean burrito or wash her own underwear.