A mosaic of ice has crystallized against the kitchen window. Snow dominates the landscape and traps us with a vindictive grip. School was canceled again today, further slowing our annual descent into madness as we mourn the dog days of summer. If that wasn’t bad enough, mom and dad are fighting again.
When this happens, we rarely see them. They’ve each set up a cot at work and only come home for a change of clothes. If they interact, they yell at each other. We, the family, sit around the kitchen table, wondering how this may end.
Some of us curl our knees to our chests, fear plastered across our faces, as naive thoughts spin around our heads. We wish we could just bury our heads in the sand and make it go away. We don’t even notice that our cereal has long since gone soggy.
Others take in the shouting and roll their eyes at each statement hurled back and forth. We can’t even remember the last time we took a bite of, now cold, toast. Unable to avert our attention, we listen closely, forming our own opinions of the matter, unaware of the trauma we’ll undoubtedly need to address in the future.
A third group has taken position near mom and dad’s bedroom door. We employ a de facto relay system, complete with hushed whispers and crude hand gestures, trying to update those seated around the table—those who continue to care, anyway.
There are those who refuse to pay attention. They’re barely present, even in body, but certainly not in spirit. Ours is a nominal fixture. A mere shadow of our previous dedication to the family. We anticipate divorce. We remember the last time mom and dad separated, and we are unwilling to be involved. We shovel cold cereal into our open mouths while the kitchen TV updates us on NFL scores.
Grandpa comes over from time to time. He seems to possess an odd combination of knowing more and caring less about the situation than anyone else. In his mind, anything other than football—which he refuses to allow us to call soccer—is nihilism. Some of us are starting to wonder whether he’s right.
The wickedness of winter’s reign rages on. But the bland and bitter cold must surely give way to beautiful color. Our most earnest hope is that our parents can find a way to get along, even if it is a little late. After all, Valentine’s Day isn’t that far off. We have only 25 days left until pitchers and catchers are due to report.