Last week, I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that I got my Christmas card from my parents. I opened it up to find this lovely gilt-edged picture of a very classic Santa Claus chuckling from his sleigh. The reindeer are just beginning to pull him away from the roof of a cozy brick house on a crisp and starry night. I open it up to read whatever printed sentimental cheer the red ink provides and then read the personalized greeting on the other side. In that oversized diagonal scrawl people use to fill up the left-hand side of the card in as few words as possible, my mother has clearly written, "You're out of the will until you straighten things up."
Perplexed, I call my brother. I ask if he got a Christmas card and he answers with this odd voice, stammering, "Yeah. What did YOURS say?" His apparently had an identical message.
We are baffled. We cannot begin to figure out what we have done. After all, we have both grown up to be respectable adults with decent lives and solid marriages and families. We call mom and the only response is, "Well, if you don't know, I'm CERTAINLY not going to tell you."
Throughout the dream, we cannot figure it out. We never really worry about the lack of inheritance, rather the lack of understanding. We cannot figure out what we possibly could have done.
The next day, I call my mother to tell her about the dream. It is especially funny because, for the last few months, I keep thinking I need to call her and tell her she needs to fall on her knees and thank both of us every day for turning out so well. Every time I get an update on people I grew up with I wonder how I became the only responsible thirty-year-old in America. (Or at least to come out of my graduating class.) My mom and I are laughing and laughing and laughing.
On with the tale . . .
For a few weeks, I have been making a point of telling Charlie that I love him. Because he's not very verbal, I tend to kiss and snuggle, but not talk to him much. I get right in his sweet little face, pinch his little kissing lips and say, "Charlie! I. Love. You!"
That punk hasn't said one word back.
To make matters worse, we were going into the restaurant for lunch today and he just spontaneously busts out with, "I love you, Daddy."
Tonight, we had dinner with a group from church. "I love you, Daddy," he says. "I love you, Darren," he says. I tell him, "I love you, Charlie!" and he says, "Daddy." Daddy says, "Say, 'I love you, Mommy.' " and Charlie says, "Cookie."
Later on . . . "I love you, Charlie!"
Still, later . . . "I love you, Charlie!"
"No, no, no."
"I love you, Charlie!"
"Fine, Charlie. This is it. I am never giving birth to you again. You're out of the will until you straighten things up."