Winter ‘bugs’ bring amendment to family charter

Categorized as 12/15/08 Goshen News column

The good news today is that winter is here. With it has come that glorious season of Advent, bringing a heavenly hope to a world battered by fear and uncertainty.

I cannot lie. A small (and some would say trivial) piece of our holiday cheer came home with us in the shape of pints when we picked out our Christmas tree at The Chief the week before Thanksgiving. It was in that very parking lot one year ago that the offspring staged a protest upon learning that the last pint had just been sold. If you are tempted to judge, calling us frivolous and shallow for attaching a happy ho-ho-ho to a pint of ice cream, then I have only one thing to say – you haven’t been there yet, have you?

At the risk of sounding bipolar, the bad news today is that winter is here. This marks a second advent – the annual invasion of viruses and bacteria with their accompanying misery.

At our house, it’s already begun. Mr. Schrock presented with a roaring cold, hacking for days while Baby Schrock sniffled and drug around with somewhat less than his usual bounce. They got off easy, though, compared to the GI torture two of us endured recently, bringing up a pair of kidneys each, a couple of tube socks, and possibly a sandwich last seen back in ’76. I couldn’t quite be sure.

These bugs, however, are relatively easy to treat compared to other nastier strains that aren’t amenable to antibiotics or OTC preparations. Take dawdlitis, for instance. The symptoms of this illness are little to no movement when asked to perform certain tasks. It induces a similar lack of motion in time-sensitive situations, such as the impending arrival of the bus or preparing for church. These symptoms come and go, vanishing completely if the PS2 is involved.

Another particularly bad one is known in the medical field as the IMYB syndrome. This stands for “I’ll Mind Your Business.” One of us in particular has contracted a virulent case. This syndrome is characterized by far more concern about others’ obedience, performance, and dental hygiene than one’s own.

A recent flare-up of this resulted in a younger sibling missing the bus, which then forced an older sibling to become a taxi cab driver. The angry cab driver stormed home, vowing to ambush Mr. IMYB with his new Airsoft gun, riddling his hide with plastic BBs. Civil war was averted, but just barely.

After reviewing these and other similar symptoms, the powers that be decided that it was time for a character reformation. In keeping with a great reformer from another century, we drafted an amendment to the family charter and presented it to the miscreants. Okay, so it didn’t have 95 theses and we didn’t nail it to the door of a church, but if we had, here’s how it might have read.

“Inasmuch as your characters and moral training are our responsibility, and inasmuch as we acknowledge that we will one day give a report to a holy God on how we taught you guys, we are issuing a temporary decree. Whereas some among us are of the belief that PS2 games, movies, and TV shows are a child’s inherent right, it is incumbent upon us to remind you that these are all privileges.

“Therefore, these are being temporarily suspended for the foreseeable future except by very special dispensation from on high on extremely rare occasions. We shall henceforth revert to entertainment from the Paleozoic era; namely, books and games. From the looks on your faces, this really rains on your small, but lively parade. We are confident, however, that you will thank us one day. Signed, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Luther (a.k.a. Mom and Dad).”

A friend who heard about our radical proclamation wondered if there would be reports one day of a Wakarusa Tea Party wherein the tribe revolted en masse and dumped the board games into the neighbor’s pond. Anything’s possible, so we’re keeping a sharp eye out for signs of a coup or peasant discontent.

In spite of the trials and tribulations attendant to living with other sinners, not to mention being one, it is truly the most wonderful time of the year. There is still joy to be found, and peace. Oh, yes – and there’s still butter pecan ice cream, my favorite flavor, left at The Chief. You’re lucky, Goshen. You’re real lucky.

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