Now let me be clear. The Henrys did not invent the “Family Reunion.” Family reunions have been around, oh, I’d say probably since the invention of Large Extended Families. No doubt some of you readers can recall sticky gatherings of seldom-seen aunts, uncles, and cousins featuring picnic tables laden with summer dishes like jello salads (urk) and glorified rice (yum). Games like Corn Hole (a real “thing”, I kid you not) and wiffle ball and sometimes even croquet would be played (though our “croquet” was decidedly non-Downton-Abbey-esque, involving lots of violent “sending” of opponents’, i.e. younger cousins’, balls, resulting in much wailing).
Gathering of the Henry Clan featuring sweaty, crying cousins (I’m down in front next to the boy sucking his thumb)
The other side of my family, the Petersons, had Family Reunions too. They even gave theirs an idiosyncratic name. I dimly recall attending something called the PAL Reunion in Belvidere Park. (This was in Belvidere, Illinois, the closest metropolitan area/gathering place for my farm-residing relations.) The “PAL” stood for, I believe, Peterson, Anderson, and Lindstrom. Yup, these were the Swedes. Continue reading
‘It’s a wonder every Middle Child isn’t an ax murderer’
To have a Middle Child in your family you need, at minimum (duh), three kids. Mine had five. We had the Big Kids (Scott and me), the Little Kids (Laura and Doug). And poor Roger — who, incidentally, just had a birthday Saturday– was the one stuck in the middle.
That’s Roger, right there in the middle. Literally, and figuratively
I say ‘poor Roger’ because this is the kind of thing he’d hear all day: ‘Roger! Stop bothering those Big Kids. They have homework to do.’ Or: ‘Roger! Stop teasing those Little Kids. They might get hurt.’
Well, we Big Kids didn’t really mind our homework getting interrupted. And the Little Kids? They didn’t get hurt. Not physically, anyway. Though that Roger was a world-champion teaser/tormenter. I can still picture (and hear) him trailing Laura all around the house blowing on his trombone: ‘Blat blat blaaaaaat…blat blat blaaaaat!’ Over and over and over again. It drove her absolutely wild. Laura: ‘Moooooooom!!!!’ Mom: ‘He’s just practicing, dear.’ Laura: ‘But he won’t stoooooop!’ Mom: ‘Just ignore him.’ Like that would work.
One of the Big Kids (me) condescends to ‘play’ with Roger. That’s Laura lurking by the picnic table. And that’s Doug’s playpen. (Remember those?)
Poor Roger. Stuck in the middle. Not only did he get squeezed out of exclusive Big Kid and Little Kid activities, he got blamed for pretty much every naughty thing that happened: