As you can imagine, growing up with five children in our family led to much craziness and many stories. I still wonder how my parents managed to keep their sanity without selling AT LEAST one of us to a traveling band of gypsies.
Like the time one summer day that I decided to flood the garage with an inch or two of water from the garden hose to maximize the slippery cement surface. It made the perfect “ice” rink. Just as the music in my head rose to a crescendo and I was perfecting my interpretation of a triple lutz jump, my mother came home from the grocery store. As she opened the garage door a river of water poured onto the driveway. I was confounded by her anger – I just wanted to skate! Besides, what was a little bit of water damage to our house’s foundation to an afternoon of bliss?
Or maybe the resulting incident when my younger brother discovered the vastly male art of peeing while standing up. He realized this talent while out in the woods behind our house, but unfortunately decided to bring it indoors in a rather untraditional way. For a number of days, instead of walking down the hall to the restroom, he utilized the corner near his bed. On the carpet. Unbeknownst to anyone.
One evening we were all gathered in his room for story time and when I went to sit on the floor I realized the carpet was all wet. Being about seven at the time, when any bodily function was hilarious, I began singing, “Austin peed in the corner! Austin peed in the corner!” in complete jest, while giggling at my own incredibly intellectual humor. Before either of my parents could scold my obnoxious behavior, he just looked at me and replied, “Yeah, I did. So what?” It took a moment for it to sink in that he really had been peeing in the corner. Needless to say, I was hysterical over the fact that I had pee on my feet. Story time was cancelled for the evening while the carpet was cleaned and my brother was informed that he was gross.
Well, when we were all quite young we had a routine that could be expected like clockwork most evenings in an effort to contain our general wildness. After dinner, we took our baths. We combed our hair. We brushed our teeth. We pulled on our pajamas. Finally, it was time to push the living room furniture out of the way and stand in our respective corners, trembling in eager anticipation. My mom would take up her place on the couch with our baby brother. My dad would get down on all fours in the middle of the carpet. As we heard “GO!” my brothers, sister and I would throw ourselves at our dad – the wrestling match had begun. We would scream, we would yell, we would climb all over our poor father as we used him as our personal jungle gym. It was our own version of Ultimate Fighting Championship, repeated each evening.
My dad would stay perfectly still in a crouched position and then, without warning, whip out an arm and grab one of us by the leg. With a delighted shriek we would collapse into uncontrollable fits of giggles as he hauled us towards him to tickle us mercilessly. As we squirmed away he would go after someone else as the rest of us launched a counter attack by climbing onto his back. The best moment was always when he would unexpectedly stand up on his knees, causing us to fall from his back and drop to the floor like a heap of puppies.
There was a great deal of yelling, sweating and general feral behavior during these evening matches. If the wrestling ever became too intense, we just had to run to mom on the couch. She was Base. And the only rule in our bare knuckled boxing was when someone cried, we had to stop. It was understood between us siblings that it was death to the one who cried first and spoiled the fun for the rest.
One evening in particular, as we were finishing up our baths and getting ready for the wild rumpus, I slipped on my new white nightgown with red plaid piping on the collar from my grandmother. It even came with a matching teddy bear. Amazing, I know. Anyway, even as a five year old, I realized that seeing a visible panty line through my clothes was not a good look. And worse, the white fabric was thin enough you could see the color of my underwear. Not happening. So without a thought, I slipped off my offensive undies and headed down to the family room. Oh, the foibles of youth.
Mid match, I miscalculated a turn as I ran around the front side of my dad. I realized my error as he caught me by the ankle and drug me across the carpet to be tickled. Well, my nightgown hiked its way up to my armpits and it was made very apparent that I had left my discarded underwear on my bedroom floor. I think it speaks to my youth at the time that when my brothers both yelled “Annie, go put on underwear if you’re gonna wrestle with us. Gosh!” that I felt zero embarrassment about mooning my entire family. In fact, I remember putting up quite a fuss over why I had to properly clothe myself in order to participate.
It was only after being sternly called “Anne Elizabeth!” by both parents, that I stomped up the staircase to rectify the situation. I paused at the threshold of my bedroom and hollered “IT’S NOT FAIR!” before slamming my door.
Thinking back, I am not quite certain why I was so angry that I was BEING FORCED to put on underwear in order to wrestle with my family. But I am glad that in the end my parents were sticklers. Because now, you will be thrilled to know, I happily wear my undies every day without a second thought.