First, let me apologize for re-posting an older column last week. I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I did this for a couple of reasons. One was that it was kind of poignant for this time of year and most of our newer readers hadn’t read it before. The other is because last week I was having a text book Murphy’s Law kind of day which culminated in what we’ll simply refer to as ‘a situation’. All of this was happening at the precise time that I normally would have been writing.

The day started off innocuously enough. My wife was off so we were both home with the kids all day. My wife thought she would take advantage of this time and take our 10-year-old shopping for school supplies. It would give them a little one on one time and get the jump on the new school year. I love this little girl with all of my heart, but I’m becoming increasingly more convinced that either she has cloned herself (in kind of a “Boys From Brazil” fashion) or that she may at the very least have multiple personalities. I say this of course with sarcasm and not as a clinical diagnosis. The point being, we never know which one of ‘her’ is going to show up until it’s too late.

My wife was very excited about the idea until, we’ll call her Cybil for the sake of this story, had a mild meltdown and said she didn’t want to go shopping and refused to accompany her Mom. Even going so far as to call the idea stupid. Now keep in mind that this beautiful, saintly woman is nearly 8 months pregnant. If any of you have ever been pregnant, or lived with someone who is, than you are aware that there are a myriad of emotions and hormonal anomalies taking place at this juncture. I generally just smile a lot, keep very quiet, and make sure there is always a large variety of food in the house.

Well my wife’s feelings were hurt, but being the rock that she is she powered through it and decided she would just go to the store alone and get all of the necessary supplies for our two girls that will be attending school this year. Like anything else in my house, just the simple preparing to go to the store took nearly an hour. As she was walking out the door, suddenly Cybil came downstairs freaking out that my wife was about to go without her. If you’re keeping score, that’s meltdown number two for the day.

So now of course my wife has to wait for my daughter to get ready to go with her. Another 20 minutes of life lost in the abyss. Finally, the two of them are ready to go. As they approach the front door, the 4-year-old and the 3-year-old start losing it wondering why they are not going. Meltdowns numbers three and four. Another half hour spent preparing them during which time Cybil has gone back to the dark side. My infinitely patient bride is keeping her cool up to this point, but I can tell she’s desperately fighting to repress more different emotions than I had the first time I watched Marley and Me.

Now despite the fact that I am a full time resident in this nut house, I was actually stupid enough to think (though only for a brief moment) that I was about to be left home alone for awhile, hence allowing me to write my piece without distractions. Something that has literally never happened in the four or so years I’ve been writing this. I made the mistake of smiling at the thought. Then I made eye contact with my wife and I could actually feel my face starting to catch on fire. So I jumped up and got ready as quickly as I could so that I would not be the last one to the car.

Another 12 minutes of life are lost chasing a pair of very nimble toddlers around a minivan in my driveway which is a minefield of massive puddles from the torrential downpour of the night before. Eventually she and I each catch one, all the while looking like idiots trying to wrangle a greased pig that’s been pumped full of crystal meth.

By the time the diabolical duo are strapped in their car seats, they are both crying and Cybil is sitting in the third row with her arms folded, jaw tightened as if she is in the process of being tasered, and shooting optical daggers at my wife and I. She’s now furious that the original opportunity to go shopping alone with her Mom has come and gone. That’s how delusional these people get sometimes, and somehow, miraculously this is all my fault. We haven’t gotten out of the driveway yet, and everyone’s pissed.

I’ve already stopped keeping track of the meltdowns, so from now on you’re going to have to keep track for yourselves. During the 5 minute commute to the Wal Mart, the two little ones calmed down. The 3-year-old carried on a conversation with no one the whole way and was perfectly content. The 4-year-old rapid fired an arsenal of ‘life’s questions’ most of which I couldn’t possibly have answers to, so I look like a moron for attempting to even respond. And the glaring duel of eye contact in the rear view mirror between my wife and the 10-year-old was nothing short of palpable and frightening. I could actually see blue flames shooting in each direction. This was one of those rare situations where not even my warped sense of humor could calm the waters. So I pretended to be invisible.

We arrived at white trash Mecca, and conveniently found a parking space only about ¾ of a mile from the main entrance. I jumped out of the passenger side immediately for fear that the vehicle was about to be engulfed in flames from the bitterness. I released the two toddlers from their restraints and got them both standing and holding hands on one side of the car. My wife and eldest daughter however both remained buckled in their seats in a standoff using the mirror to glare at each other like two wild west cowboys about to have a duel in the street at high noon.

There was an eerie silence as I stood clutching the hands of my two youngest. I actually saw some tumbleweed blow by my minivan.

I’m going to end it this week with the standoff at not so OK Corral. Stay tuned as I’ll pick up next week from right here with the story that I promised I wasn’t going to write. It only gets better. The meltdown meter reaches a new all time high. Other parties come into the mix, and I finally reach the end of my rope at the expense of a crimson collared stranger.

Thanks for playing along. Until next week, Syd Nichols