My twelve year old child has had just about enough.
Given that we had about, oh, I don’t know, an inch of snow today, and given that it engendered at TOTAL SNOW APOCALYPSE (cars spinning out in the road, smashed-in fenders and bumpers and front-ends, not to mention the scores of people who were scared to go out because, thanks to the mild winter, Minnesotans have, en masse, simply forgotten how to cope with a couple snow flakes), I figured I should shovel the walk. Because I didn’t want anyone alerting the authorities. And because I didn’t want anyone to break their leg on my front walk. Because we’ve forgotten how to maneuver in sub-freezing weather.
I asked my child to help me.
“My back’s been hurting,” I said. “And you need to get some fresh air.”
I had already started. There wasn’t a lot to do. She wrinkled her nose. “Can’t we wait for Leo? He loves shoveling. Plus he’s free.”
“You,” I pointed out, “are similarly free.”
“Hmph,” she said. And she started looking for her gloves. Slowly.
By the time she came out, I was nearly finished. To her credit, she shoveled, she really did. Approximately four shovelfuls. And then we were done.
“That was hard,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said. “That was a big help. Even if you could only do four shovels, every little bit helps, and I appreciate it.”
“Mom,” she said. “I did more than four.”
“You’re right,” I said. “Five. Those five really helped.”
“Mom,” she said. “That’s not very nice.”
“You’re right, honey. And I do appreciate it. I did notice, however, that it took a suspiciously long time to find your gloves. One might think that you were dragging your feet.” She squeaked something incoherent. “I mean, I don’t think that. But one might. If one was inclined to think such things.”
“Like a conspiracy theorist, for example. Or a libertarian.”
“Mom,” she said, “I have had it up to here with your hyperbole addiction.”
“My what?” I said, yanking off my boots and putting them in the bin.
“Hyperbole hyperbole all day long. You can’t say anything else. It’s the only language you know.”
“Now that’s not true,” I said. “I also speak Spanish. And Klingon.”
(that last bit isn’t true at all. But it is true that my husband’s best man did our wedding toast in Klingon. Or maybe it was Vulcan. I can never remember.)
“MOM!” she roared. “YOU’RE CHANGING THE SUBJECT AGAIN.”
“I have never changed the subject a single time in my entire life,” I said. “I’m like the Trans Siberian Railway – only one track.”
“The Trans Siberian Railway. I think we should go. As a family. Wouldn’t it be fun?”
She squished up her face. “Raising you is a lot of work,” she said.
“I don’t doubt it,” I said fervently. “Now will you please clean your room? I’m pretty sure I saw some Hittite artifacts under a pile of your old underwear.”
“Mom,” she said, her voice a low hiss, “if you speak in hyperbole one more time to me, my face will catch on fire and my brain will turn into a supernova and the world will end in a flash of fire and energy and it will be all your fault.”
She stomped upstairs.
“Have fun excavating civilizations!” I called after her.
(Author’s note: some of this story might have been exaggerated. Mea culpa.)