ADMINISTRIVIA: You may remember that coming off my sabbatical this past May, I gave myself permission to just update this blog when things got crazy in my life. Well, through the course of unforeseen and convoluted circumstances, we have three teenage girls in the house this weekend. Doesn't get much crazier. Just remember - if I'm not in your Inbox by 10:00 p.m. EST (please convert to whatever time zone you're in) - check my blog for the update. Or, if you're a friend of Mark's Musings on Facebook (hint, hint), you can get it all through them.
A LETTER TO THE I.R.S.
I am writing you today to respond to your decision denying the deductions on my income tax return. I claimed three dependents; you have denied two of them. Thank you. I have questioned whether these are my children or not for years. They are expensive and often evil. However, since they are minors - and the government is taking on responsibility for them - let me tell you something about what to expect over the next year. For the 2011 tax year, you may apply to reinstate them to my return, providing you return an equal number of deductions to me. For this year, however, they are yours.
The oldest, Kristen, is now 17. She is brilliant. Just ask her! I suggest you put her to work where she can answer people's questions about taxes. She's had no formal training, but that hasn't seemed to hamper her knowledge of any other subject you can name. Taxes should be a breeze.
Next year she is going to college. I think it is wonderful that you're willing to be responsible for that expense. Also, she has a truck. It doesn't run at the moment, so you'll have to appropriate some Health and Human Services budget to fix it, or get up early and drive her to school.
Kristen also has a boyfriend. Ahem. While she appears to possess all the wisdom of the universe, her alleged mother and I have felt it best to occasionally remind her about the virtues of abstinence ... and, in the face of overwhelming passion, safe sex. These have always been uncomfortable conversations and I'm relieved you'll be handling them in the future.
Patrick is 14. I've long had my suspicions about this one. His eyes are a bit too close together, you know? He may be a tax examiner himself one day if you don't incarcerate him first. In June, we were awakened at 3:00 in the morning by the police, bringing Patrick home. He and his friends were caught TP'ing houses. In the future would you like him delivered to our local I.R.S. office or sent directly to Cincinnati, Ohio?
Now, kids at 14 will do almost anything on a dare. So his hair is purple. Temporary dye? No, permanent. He didn't care about the difference. You'll have plenty of time to get used to it because he is sitting out a few days of school for instigating a food fight. In the library. I'll be sure to file your phone number with the school's vice-principal.
One final word: do NOT leave him or any of his friends unsupervised with girls, explosives, anything flammable, inflatable, with wheels or with telephones.
Heather, I'm sure, is an alien. She slid through a time warp and appeared quite by magic one year. She is 10, going on 21. She must have begun her time travel in the 60s, because she wears tie-dyed clothes, beads, sandals, and keeps her hair in a way that would make Tiny Tim proud.
It's quite obvious we have been terrible parents (just ask the other two), so they have taken it upon themselves to raise this child to a new level of terror. She cannot speak English. Most people under 20 can, indeed, understand the curious patois she fashioned out of combining Valley girl / boys in the hood / reggae / yuppie / political doublespeak, but we cannot. The school sends her to a speech pathologist, who has taught her to roll her "r's." This has had the effect of adding a refreshing Mexican-Irish touch to her voice. She wears her hats backward, her pants baggy, and one of her ears is pierced four more times than the other one.
There is also a fascination with tattoos, which worries me, but I'm sure you can handle it. Bring a truck when you come because she "nests" in her room, and it may be easier to move everything rather than try to figure out what's really in there.
I guess it's only fair that you get to pick which two to take on, but I prefer you take the two youngest. I'll still go bankrupt putting Kristen through college, but then I'm free! If you take the two oldest, I'll have time to get some professional counseling before Heather becomes a teenager. If you take the girls, I won't feel so bad about putting Patrick into a military academy.
Please let me know of your decision as soon as possible.
[Humor Over Easy via Yaffa's Coffeehouse; edited by Mark Raymond]
WEBSITE of the WEEK: We've begun Labor Day Weekend, the cultural end of summer here in the States. Our family (and extended teen family) are taking day trips all weekend, to a shoreside favorite getaway on Michigan's East Coast today, a Renaissance Festival tomorrow, and then canoeing on Sunday with my son. But through it all, we've gotta eat. You'll find some helpful recipes for Labor Day and cookout menus at http://bit.ly/bmrG96.