Monday, November 11, 2013


Illustration copyright 2006 van Schouwen Associates, LLC

My husband looks forward to having his kids at the house. Fresh from their mother’s, his ex-wife’s, arms and passionate goodbyes, they arrive. The youngest, a boy, age nine, is particularly revved up.

“Why don’t you have air conditioning?” he begins.

“We do.”

Central air, which we have, apparently doesn’t qualify.

“You need a BOX. Window air conditioning is better. You can cool one room,” he sniffs.

The same goes for the food (too healthy) the club pool (nothing to do but swim) and the house (not a mansion).

“Has my mother been to your house?”

“No,” I say uncertainly. Has she? Have the bigger kids let her in when she last sailed through town?

“Hmmm,” says the child.

It has been five years now and I haven’t made a dent, haven’t left a trace of myself or my step-motherly value in their sturdy little hearts. Reports of no-ice-cream-five-minutes-before-dinner are texted home to Mom to become fodder for a protracted tween-rant about unsated appetite, and their school-assigned summer reading becomes a suggestion so vile that it could have come only from, well, me. The volume on the video game system creeps up as August approaches.

Finally, I begin to claim the territory of scorn. So now there will be only whole wheat bread. Educational movies. Does anyone recognize that I have planted my flag in the quinoa?

©2013 Michelle van Schouwen, Longmeadow, MA
All rights reserved.

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