April's Real Blog

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Deliver us from flashbacks!

Mike's got sum more flashbacky stuff 2 share w/all of U:

Formerly little sis. This has been such a strange week of reminiscing. When the week started out, I was sure it was going to be mom and Connie Poirier thinking back to the wonderful world of 1979. But as the week progressed, and there were moments when neither mom nor Connie Poirier appeared in my memories, I realized that it was I who would be thinking back to those great old days.

One of the greatest, I think, was the time when Dad gave me one of the best lessons I ever learned about married life. I was eating a sandwich in the usual Patterson style, which you know so well, and Dad was reading the paper, his customary position in the house. Something had been going on with the kettle. I am not sure what. It occasionally made a loud whistling noise, which I associated with coffee, which I also associated with mom being in a much better mood. Growing up, usually the kettle whistle was a happy sound.

On this particular morning, it was not. Mom came into the kitchen, picked up the kettle, turned it on its end so the set of 4 reflective squares and the spout were upward, and then she said, “You can see I’m busy, John…the least you could do is un-plug the kettle!” I adored and worshipped my mom, so naturally I followed suit and said, “Yeah, dad…you sure are lazy!” I remember dad had a startled look on his face when I said that, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of my criticism, or because he noticed that the bite marks on my sandwich kept moving around.

Now there are those people who might tell me that a parent shouldn’t criticize another parent in front of the children and that those kinds of disputes should be settled when the children aren’t around. They might say that it sets up a cycle of abuse where the child feels the criticized parent is fair game. Well, to those people I say, you could learn from my Dad.

Right after I told dad he was lazy, mom turned around and with Lizzie right there to see her, she said to me, “…And, Michael, it is NOT your place to criticize your father!” The lesson there should have been obvious to me. Dad didn’t correct me, but mom did. If you notice carefully, only one person is running around criticizing people and that was mom. However, Dad did not want to take any chance that I might have missed this crucial lesson and he said to me in a whisper with his hand oddly blocking the projection of his voice to my ear, “…You’re infringing on your mother’s territory.” At that age, I didn’t know what “infringing” or “territory” meant; but years later I looked up those words, and Dad’s lesson to me that day came beaming through. I learned that it is mom’s job, right and privilege to criticize everyone around her; and that no matter how strongly we may feel about an issue, mom has the first chance to tear into someone and rip them to shreds with criticism.

Once I opened that dictionary and realized what Dad was saying, I cannot tell how many times I avoided making that same mistake again. It was a life-saver, and I can honestly say it is probably the single best advice that a married man can get.

Michael Patterson
Aw, Mike. Mom and Dad really screwed U up! Of course, they raised me, 2, which makes me think that as soon as I get 2 uni I'll sign up 4 counseling so I can find out if/how much they screwed me up. And do sum fixing.

Duncan's silhouette, last nite U asked, "Speaking of mysteries, what did Trickie Beldan mean when she said, 'You better not invite Gerald to your sister’s wedding as your date, if you know what’s good for you'? That was kind of whacked. Like you would even do that." I will def. not ask Ger 2 Liz's wedding as my d8. But Liz has a terrible habit of not listening 2 NEthing I say 2 her, and she mite go ahead and invite him as my d8 w/out my permission. Especially since she, like Mike, thinx childhood sweethearts are destiny 4 all us Patterson kids. Jeremy and I R gonna hafta come up w/our own counter-plan.


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  • At 11:59 AM, Anonymous jeremy jones said…

    april, i’m glad 2 know u don’t plan 2 invite gerald 2 ur sis’ weddin’ az ur d8. so, duz this mean i needta go 2 ur sis’ weddin’? or duz the counter-plan involve like goin’ sumplace else? cuz there’s like part of me that wunts 2c ur sis’ weddin’ just cuz i wondah like if ur sis & anthony caine r evn gonna say they luv each othah @their weddin’; & there’s anothah part of me that iz kinda scared of goin’ 2 ur sis’ weddin’ cuz i think it might scar me 4 life on weddingz, eh?

  • At 12:05 PM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. Signing up for counseling would probably be a good thing for you, especially if you think mom and dad screwed me up. Goodness, April. My book, Stone Season is selling very well; and everyone knows that best-selling authors are among the most, well-adjusted, and well-parented people that there are in the world. Why would anyone with our parents need to be fixed? That’s just crazy talk; so your thought about counseling sounds like an excellent idea to me. I am sure that if I mention it to dad, he probably knows somebody through his medical connections.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger howard said…


    It’s the mandate of the Milborough Mothering Movement that came out of the late 1970s, as near as I can tell. My wife, Beatrice Alfarero, told me she learned about it when she moved to Milborough. Part of the agreement to be a mother in Milborough was the understanding that criticizing the children and the husband/father publicly were strictly the territory of the mother, and that it was neither the child nor the husband’s place to levy criticisms. There are little fringe groups around where the dads and children get together on the sly behind closed doors and criticize each other, but that’s a pretty dangerous thing to do. After all, in Milborough, if you see fathers together with their children and the mother is not present, that is a pretty unusual sight.

    I remember one time I took my two daughters, María and Ana, to the Milborough Park, while Beatrice was working at Lilliput’s one Saturday, and it was not too long before a woman came over to me and said, “You’re not criticizing anyone are you?” I said, “No. I am just playing with my daughters in the park.” Then the lady said, “Well, make sure you don’t criticize anyone. It’s not your place. You would be infringing on your wife’s territory. We’re watching you.” It was kind of an eerie feeling. On the other hand, my daughters are looking forward to motherhood for reasons I would have never guessed. As Ana said the other day, “When I’m a mom, I get to criticize things. I can't wait to be a mom.” Ana and I had to have a long talk about how things are in other places, after she made that comment.

    Sometimes, I think this whole town needs counseling.

    Howard Bunt

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    jeremy, i m not sure what the best counter plan wd b. i have a feeling i won't b able 2 get liz 2 invite u, and like us say, c-ing the wedding mite scar u. mayB what i can do is hide a lil cam in my wedding updo, so u can c the ceremony remotely. if u start 2 feel disturbed u can click away. & then mayB i shd have an escape plan and a place 2 meet up w/u.

    mike, u seem 2 b under the impression that a therapist wd think our fam is normal and our upbringing was good and try 2 make me think so, 2. no, no, no. a gd therapist wd agree that our upbringing was screwed up and help me identify bad effects i mite not have been aware of, only cuz i don't know ne better. no way wd i take a reco from dad. ne1 he recommends wd surely b skewed and unprofessional. i will hafta find sum1 who has no connection 2 our fam or our town.

    howard, milbo sure is a freaky place.


  • At 4:15 PM, Blogger duncan anderson said…

    Hey, Apes,

    We got the invite this am. My mom called me @ work 2 give me the 411. She was laffing so much I cld hardly understand her. She kept saying, "No1 but Elly Patterson wld send out a wedding invitation with a d8 of 'TBA'."

    So I guess Ill cu on TBA.

    Yr best bud,
    Duncan Anderson

    p.s. Perdita says she got an invite 4 her & Andy. The invite says there will b child care on site. Ru the child care on site?

  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    hey, dunc! omg, i cannot believe my mom actually sent out those invites. i thot she was joking abt those!

    no1 has sed nething 2 me abt me being "child care" 4 the wedding. which prolly means i'm gonna b told abt this on the morning of the wedding. and not given a choice.


  • At 2:45 AM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. Although it seems like my wife, the lovely Deanna, never has any hair grow on her and her perpetual bowl hair cut, the same cannot be said of my son. I know I had hoped that growing up, he would be like I used to be, with the receding hairline that caused me to bear more than a casual resemblance to that of my good friend Linus van Pelt. However, my son’s hair did not meet that expectation. It grew, and it grew enough so that my wife finally took him to a hair cutter.

    I know that some people might say that over 3 years old, my son should have been going to haircutters regularly for some time; but those people do not understand the peculiarities of Patterson hair. When you think about it, April, how long has it been in your very own blog where you mentioned going to the hair salon for a hair cut or a change in your hair style? I am sure it has been months and months. Patterson hair just doesn’t grow that often or that quickly.

    Deanna took my son to the Studio Salon next to the Video Store in the Milborough Mall. She had been forwarned that she might need to take a toy to distract him, while the haircutter did her business; but unfortunately no one told her that it was a good idea to give the toy to our son to distract him. As she told the story to me about her waving this toy around, while my son flailed about, it was pretty obvious what the flaw was. However, I restrained myself from mentioning it as Deanna recounted how a little storm cloud appeared above her head. Shortly thereafter, Deanna and my son left the salon doing the standard Patterson “wave goodbye while you are a few steps away from the doorway”. The haircutter stood at the store entrance and waved, which Deanna attributed to being “nice” and I attributed it to being the least, busy haircutter (thus explaining her incompetence with my son).

    Later that night, as my son lay sleeping, a mysterious creature approached my son in his slumbers. A creature armed with a pair of scissors. Yes, it was my lovely wife, Deanna, determined to give my son a haircut without him knowing. She had decided to rely on her knowledge that my son is not very light sleeper. She “CUT CUT CLIP CUT cut CUT” away at his hair on his left side with tiny two-fingered scissors. As my son briefly, “SNORK!”ed, she pulled away with caution, fear, and what appeared to me to be a deformed right hand. I have often noticed that of all the body parts of the Pattersons, which frequently appear to be deformed, the hands and fingers are usually the first to go.

    Then as my son rolled over to his right side with a “MMFFF SNORK MMM SMACK SMACK, ZZZZ” sound, my lovely wife Deanna hid behind the protective gate on his bed; so that he wouldn’t see…I mean hear…That doesn’t work either. Could it be that she was trying to use the gate to block the air flow between her and my son, so that he wouldn’t catch her scent in the air?

    She approached him again and “SNIP cut clip CUT CUT cut cut” on his right side. Deanna finished just before she went into a silhouette, which would have made seeing a little more difficult. My son reacted with a “SNORT UMPH SNZ”, and my wife hid behind the gate once again.

    This next time, my son had moved so he was lying on his back with his face directly forward. I approached from behind in silhouette, as I heard the sound “CLIP, SNIP, CUT, CUT CLIP, CUT” and assumed from the sound and the fact I saw my wife with the scissors in her hand, these sounds came from her haircutting. However, looking more closely, I noticed Deanna was bent over. I began to suspect those sounds had come from some other source than haircutting. In other words, Deanna had been cutting something other than hair. Also, I noticed that Deanna was pointing her left hand fingers to my son as if she had him in some kind of magic spell.

    She told me that at this point she thought “DONE!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she had completely missed the back of my son’s head. However, my son, the sound sleeper, had slept through it all, including when Deanna said out loud, “READY!” to me. That was my signal to pick up my son so that Deanna could collect all the hair cuttings in his bedsheets and replace the bedsheets with new clean ones.

    Even as I lay him back into his bed, all he managed was a “SNRK” to indicate he knew anything had happened to him. This bolstered my wife’s confidence, and she said to me, “Tomorrow night I’ll cut his toe-nails.” This left me with a gobsmacked look on my face. After all, she had not tried taking my son to a nail salon before suggesting this.

    He’s only a few months older than 3 years. I am beginning to wonder if it’s too early to think about toenail-cutting for my son. He may be too young. After all, April, when is the last time you can remember having to cut your toenails?

    Michael Patterson


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