About the fifth time Alena said, "This family is just NOT normal" last week, I started to realize, maybe it wasn't just her being her typical pre-teen self.
Maybe she was right.
I don't know what tipped her off the most, though.
Was it Tessa and her new favorite game of pulling tampons out of my purse and walking around casually with them in her mouth as she went about playing like normal?
Was it seeing Justin, dressed in his basketball jersey from Sports Day at work, shooting ghost free throws to himself in front of the bathroom mirror - in the dark when he didn't think anyone was looking?
Was it Phoebe spinning around and around and around and around, then throwing up, and starting to spin all over again?
Is it the cat who neurotically pulls out his own fur in big fur clumps all over the floor?
Was it how Chloe relates literally EVERYTHING she is doing or saying to some sort of cartoon episode?
The other day, Tessa was trying to grab one of her toys and she ran away screaming, "Swiper, no swiping!"
Is it how my mom is constantly fearing low tire pressure and is positive that every cow in every pasture that is lying down for a nap has surely met their demise, and just loves to ask, "Is that cow dead?"
Poor Alena. No wonder she's been retreating to her room.
That in itself is a worry, however.
I've noticed this girl has serious hoarding tendencies.
The other day I took a trash bag in there, on a mission to get rid of some junk and came out an hour and 2 trash bag loads later feeling like I'd just survived Normandy.
I think she had held onto every McDonalds Happy Meal toy she'd ever gotten.
She had wrappers and half used erasers, string and lone googly eyes, plastic animals with body parts chewed off.....It was like I'd found the Bermuda Triangle.
I'm worried that one day I will have to send in rescue dogs to find her and they'll drag her out from a pile of newspaper clippings or something. For this I record Hoarders on our DVR and make her watch it, all the while saying, "Now what lesson have we learned from this?" with hope brimming in my voice.
No. This family definitely isn't normal.
Actually, this whole neighborhood is a little wack-a-doo, when I think about it.
Next door we have the 40 year old man who wears one of two things: Duck hunting rain gear with a matching camo rain hat, or gangster paraphenalia. He only emerges from his house the second the mail gets here to get his mail, grabs it, and that's it.
Across the street, we have a half-way house chalk full of loonies and one scrawny dog who's owner kisses and rolls around with the dog on every lawn but her own. I'm pretty sure they're in love.
She used to use ours until I confronted her one day and scared her off.
After rolling, the dog usually poops as the owner looks all around the cul-de-sac to make sure no one's looking, then grabs the dog and darts back inside to avoid cleaning it up. It's no mystery who's poo that is, Lady.
It's either yours or his.
At the end of the street is the Grand Master of Strange - Dale - who I'm quite positive has OCD.
Dale is CONSTANTLY doing one of 3 things: Doing touch-up-paint on his house, changing the oil in a car he NEVER drives anywhere, or separating old bark from new bark in his side yard by hand and then standing over it and surveying it for what seems like hours.
He always has a red plastic party cup in his hand while doing these things, and I'm just wondering how much of a party it could be when you are doing those things.
To each his own, I guess.
We spent the whole first year in this house wondering what on earth he was doing as we saw him just standing, head bend down, staring at his plain bark yard. From the appearance of all the "work" he was putting in, you'd expect Better Homes and Gardens to be doing a piece on some lush garden that was about to erupt at any moment, but 2.5 years later, here we are with the same side yard as always- 5 water saving shrubs and bark. Old and new. Which are separated. By hand. In piles. For hours.
So, see Alena, we're not that strange. Normal is all relative, right?
I'll take my spinning, free throw shooting, Dora exclaiming, hoarding, tampon chomping, dead cow reporting family any day.