Saturday, April 23, 2011

voyage to suburbia

We're spending the weekend in a very cozy, white, subdivided outskirt of Seattle, at Anna's brother's place, with a passel of my future in-laws. (It is strange to think of them that way.) Her mother lives a few blocks away, and her father came up from Oregon. It's a nice little community. I'm a little disoriented by the number of red-haired children, and the lack of non-whites. San Francisco and Oakland people refer to the Peninsula, sometimes scornfully, as "suburbia," but a trip to a place like this shows they've clearly lost perspective.

Naturally, we're at the coffee shop, by ourselves. (Though really, this slice of the family is fine, except for her mother, and there's no indication she and I will have to talk.)

(You know how I always make great effort to communicate with and relate to people? The fact that I'm avoiding my future mother-in-law should tell how you, uh, problematic, she can be.)

We had a fine trip to get here. J's solution to the air pressure change of the descent into Sea-Tac:

J prepares for descent

We've had some nice bonding time today. It's possible that when we're away from the house, he more clearly recognizes me as one of the known and safe touchstones in his life, so he's more connective. He was trying to sneak up on Anna and he was doing a really horrible job, so I taught him how: placing the feet slowly and carefully instead of stomping, and looking to see if she was looking our direction. For some reason, the process of sneaking into the kitchen starts with hiding under a blanket in the living room, but while we were making breakfast, he managed to get past all three of us and we didn't notice until he was in the far end of the kitchen and said, "I snuck in!". So that's pretty awesome.

J's cousin M is, charitably, a handful: he's got some genuine issues, and with medication, he's now merely ADD. I've never actually seen it before, but the joke we tell:
How many ADD kids does it take to change a light bulb?
I don't know, how--
is pretty true to life.

So, J is a stickler for names. He reacts very strongly and loudly to nicknames, even when I referred to him and Anna as "the barbarian horde" (this particular one is okay since barbarians are now cool). He's not super happy that I call my car "Car," instead of a proper name like Anna's Molly. But twice now, M has referred to Anna and me, in talking with J, as "Anna and your dad," and J has completely let it slide without correcting him. It's impossible to know how he's processing it: whether "dad" is code for "that adult male in my family who's always there," or if he's just calibrating his response to his cousin's mental state, or if something deeper is happening. Pretty interesting, either way.

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