Friday, November 5, 2010

Growing up Kingett

I don't think that when my parents got married they ever expected their house to turn into the absurd place it is. I say absurd of course with the utmost affection; I love my house and my family. They entertain me more than anyone else on this planet. But I still very much doubt they knew the potential for crazy their children would have.

Maybe my favorite thing in the world is Kingett Family Dinners. We're all so busy plus for the past four years I've been in school, and now Josh is at school, so they don't happen that often anymore. A Kingett Family Dinner is defined as a meal that includes the entire family (so me, my parents, and my four brothers, Josh, Jacob, Joe, and Chris), and it can take place either at home or out (the best ones have always been out, because there's the element of being in public that makes everything feel as ridiculous as it actually is). It can either be just our family, or it can include other featured guests (who honestly should consider themselves lucky to witness a KFD). You wouldn't even believe the range of conversation these dinners have. For instance, one time a conversation led to my dad leaving the table to go research choads. We're having a KFD tonight because Josh is back for Christian's confirmation tomorrow and I cannot wait, and that is partially what has inspired this post.

Anyway, I've compiled a collection of some of my favorite Kingett stories. These have proven to be good crowd pleasers at parties, and I know I'll be telling these stories to people probably for the rest of my life, that's how good they are.

1. The time Christian got stuck in a tree

We've had two different houses in Virginia. Our first house we didn't own, and it's about 10 minutes away from the house we live in now. This house was situated on a MASSIVE hill, so when you walked in the front door you were on the main floor, but the back door led to a porch, with the actual ground more than a story below. One day after school in 2001, which meant I was 13, Josh was 10, and Christian was 4, I was making a snack in the kitchen. The kitchen window was at the back of the house and overlooked our massive hill. As I was putting something in the sink, something caught my eye. A person. At eye level. It was Christian, in a HUGE tree, three stories above the ground. I couldn't hear him, but he looked fairly panicked and I could see him mouthing the words "HELP ME!"

I was fairly nonplussed because Christian was absolutely the most insane out of all of us as a child and consistently did things of epic proportions. So I casually said "Hey...Mom...I think Christian is stuck in a tree."
"What? Where?"
"Come look out this window."
She walked into the kitchen, saw Christian, and was a little more concerned than I had been.

How a four year old climbed 30 feet into the air on a tree I'll never know.

2. The time Christian ran over the mailbox

Like I said, Christian makes up the majority of these stories because he was NUTS. One day I came home from school to find our mailbox removed. I walked inside and asked my mom where it was. This was one of those fancy mailboxes, kind of like this:

You'd notice if it was suddenly uprooted out of the ground. Her answer was "Your brother ran over it."

Christian was three at the time and the only kid not in school so I knew it had to mean him...but the sentence literally made no sense. Apparently he had snuck out of the house, climbed in the car (which was in the garage, meaning he had to also open the garage door), managed to release the parking break (this car was a stick so it had the tendancy to roll...), and rolled down our driveway into the mailbox. My mom heard something crash, so she ran outside to see Chris in the driver's seat, looking shocked but a little pleased with himself.

3. Cake explosions and toilet pillows

This actually happened last night, and was so ridiculous that it inspired this entire post. My parents were in Tampa, FL until today, so I've been in charge all week. Last night I was absolutely exhausted, so I went to bed at 9, and before I did, I told the boys to lock up and not make a mess.

They did lock up. They did not follow my other request. I woke up around 3 and decided to get a glass of water before going back to bed. I also had to pee, so I decided to use the bathroom on the main floor (rather than my bathroom in the basement) before getting my water. I opened the bathroom door, turned on the light, and found a pillow, just standing straight up, in the toilet. Christian's $100 memory foam pillow. Assuming that this was probably a dream since things this strange don't occur in real life, I closed the door and pretended it wasn't there. I decided to get my water and then let myself actually process what I had just seen. I should have taken a picture because now in the light of day I can't remember this image without laughing out loud.

However, I walked into the kitchen into an actual CAKE EXPLOSION. There was cake EVERYWHERE. Apparently Joe had decided to BAKE A CAKE at 9 o'clock at night. This was because two days prior I came home from rehearsal to Joe making BUTTERCREAMS. Except Joe, who has the common sense of a paperclip, thought the recipe he was using (from the Julia Child cookbook) was for buttercream candy...when it was in fact for buttercream FROSTING. He did not realize this until I tried one of the "buttercreams," thought something tasted VERY wrong, and realized I had just eaten a giant glob of frosting. He saved it and decided to make a cake later to use the frosting on. I guess he decided a good time to do this would be at 9 on a school night after the only other "cook" in the house had gone to bed.

There was cake in the sink, on the counter, on the floor, on the table, and a big hunk that I guess he considered "the cake" on a cake plate. Because he wasn't going to just bake a cake in a rectangular pan and frost the top, oh no. This cake was going to be circular and have LAYERS. He had also cleaned NONE of the pans and bowls he used to create and then bake the cake. He also obviously tried to frost the cake without letting it cool at all, so there were little patches of melted frosting all over the hunk. It was cake disaster.

I was livid, because I didn't feel like cleaning anything at 3 in the morning, and I knew it needed to get cleaned up before this afternoon or my mom would lose her mind. So I went to Joe's room, woke him up, and informed him that he would be waking up a half hour early for school to clean the cake explosion. Then remembering the pillow, I asked "Also, why is there a PILLOW in the toilet?"
"Oh, it's Christian's."
"That does not answer my question at all. Why is it there?"
"Well he put mine in the toilet first, so I put his in and he just left it there."
"You are both idiots."

I then woke up Christian and made him take the pillow out of the toilet. When I asked him why he left it there, he said he didn't care because he had plenty of other pillows.

I used to think he was smart.

4. When Josh wasn't wanted
This is an old story, but a classic. When I was a child I was incredibly spoiled. I was my parents' first child, I was also a GIRL, and so I pretty much got everything I wanted. So when my parents told me I was going to be a sister I was fairly pleased. I don't think my three year old brain had quite figured out that this meant I was no longer going to be the center of attention, I just saw it as an opportunity to have a little sister who I could dress up like a doll and turn into my private slave.

Yes, I said sister. Because I was not interested in having a brother whatsoever. I wasn't a child who was lonely and was looking for another sibling to have as a companion. I couldn't have cared less about being someone's sister. I pretty much wanted a toy that was alive...aka...a little sister.

As you know this dream was never realized. I think God thought a cool way to teach young Shannon about reality was to send her four brothers and zero sisters. Now I know that this was actually the best case scenario, because I never had to deal with anyone stealing my thunder, I pretty much never had to share anything, and I can STILL sweet talk my mom into shopping all the time because she only has to buy things for one child, and she loves to buy things almost as much as I do.

But I was NOT pleased at the time.

This fateful event took place on February 4, 1992. I was at my grandparents' house, blissfully playing with every toy ever created and probably being spoon-fed sugar made from gold...when the phone call that changed everything came through. It was my dad, calling to tell us the baby had been born. He talked to my grandma first, and then asked to talk to me. This is how that conversation went, I kid you not.
Dad: Hi Shan!
Me: Hi Dad! (I never called him Daddy, I might be the only child in the world who didn't do that)
Dad: Guess're a big sister! You have a new baby brother!
Dad: What? I said you're a sister! Mom just had the baby, it's a little boy! You have a brother!!

I guess my parents didn't keep the receipt or something because the hospital had a no returns policy. I was SO MAD. This is evident in home videos around the time of Josh's birth. In ALL of them you can see me trying to manipulate my parents into disliking their own newborn son. The day he was brought home from the hospital there's video of all of my extended family gathering to see Josh for the first time, and I spent the whole party crawling around and yelling "goo goo gaa gaa LOOK AT ME I'M A CUTE LITTLE BABY!" Two months later, on Easter, my dad decided to video tape me opening my easter basket, and he set the camera on a tripod so he could help me and not have to hold the camera at the same time. When he went in the kitchen to grab something, you can see me venture over to Josh's little bassinet, put my face really close to his, and wait for his curiosity to get the best of him as he tried to grab my face. When one of his hands grazed my cheek under my eye I screamed "DAD JOSH JUST PUNCHED ME IN THE EYE!!!!!!!! HE NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED!!!!!!"

5. When Jacob burned down the house

Many of you know this, but for those of you who don't, the title does not lie. Jacob actually burned our house down. Five days after Christian was born, Josh and Jacob (who were just-turned-5 and 3, respectively) were in the basement playing with toys while my mom and grandma were upstairs with Christian and Joe. I was at school and my dad was at work. Jacob, who had always been a fan of pushing the limits for the sake of fun, had seen my parents use a grill lighter a few weeks earlier, and thought it looked like a cool toy gun that SHOT FLAME.

He must have paid close attention when they put it away and began to plot a way to play with it on his own. The lighter had been placed on the top shelf above our computer desk, which was probably 7 feet high. Not an easy feat for a three year old. But Jacob, never to be stopped, climbed on top of our old school Macintosh and just managed to get the lighter. These kinds of lighters didn't have safeties back then so it was easy for a three year old to get to work. Either by accident or as an experiment, they tested the "lighter gun" out on the guest bed we kept in the basement...the guest bed with a polyester comforter. When the bed caught on fire, they tried to blow it out like a candle...but it didn't quite work. The flames kept growing, and the two of them thought it better not to tell anyone, in case they got in trouble. Finally my grandma smelled smoke, and she came downstairs to see an entire bed aflame. She tried to dump water on the bed but it was too late. She grabbed my brothers and my mom and they ran out into the Massachusetts February weather (with a newborn) to wait for the Fire Department to come. By the time they came the entire bottom half of the house was scourched and the smoke and heat damage ruined almost everything we owned on the upper floor.

Now this would be a really depressing addition to this blog full of family anecdotes if it weren't for my family's good humor about terrible life situations. A year later on February 13, the one year anniversary of the house burning down, we threw a massive party and invited everyone we knew to commemorate the anniversary. Everything at the party was fire themed.

Last summer when I went to NH, we stopped at my old houses in MA and I got to take a picture of the house (obviously renovated post-fire). This is what I'd like to imagine my house looked like as it was burning (I wouldn't know I was at school):

6. The neighbor's bathtub
We were one of the first families to move into our current neighborhood. Our house had just been built and many of the other houses in the neighborhood weren't even completed yet. One of these houses was across the street from our house. The house was almost done, and my brothers thought it would be cool to explore the inside while the workers weren't there and the house was unlocked. They ventured into the master bathroom, and saw there was a giant tub that had a little water in it. So, for their own enjoyment, they dared Christian to pee in it. Chris, who had no limits at this time and did almost anything deemed "ridiculous" for his own enjoyment, thought this was a great idea, but only under the condition that they weren't allowed to tell on him.

I don't know why he trusted them. The first thing they did was tell everyone they knew. Christian got grounded for the entire summer. He was only six years old.

7. Christian's cage
As is a theme in this blog, young Christian was insane. You probably wouldn't think it if you only know him now, he's a pretty chill teenager. But he used to be completely out of control. When he was one, he learned how to get out of his crib. He was WAY too young to be sleeping in one of those little toddler beds (the next step after a child outgrows a crib), plus he always escaped the crib to try and wreak as havoc as possible; a bed would only make that easier for him to do.

My mom's first approach to the situation was to try and reason with Christian and just TELL him he needed to stay in his bed. This obviously did not work whatsoever. Her second approach was to threaten him with punishments (yes, as a one year old. Chris was too smart for his own good and was fully capable of time out). This also did nothing, because Christian wasn't concerned by things like consequences. The crime was ALWAYS worth the time. So finally, my mom got desperate, and bought one of these to go on top of the crib:

This made Christian VERY angry. It was the first time he had actually been hindered. He would sit in his cage and screeeeeam, but my mom had no mercy for baby Satan. So he tried a different tactic: focusing his efforts on escaping the cage. Now this cage was NOT easy to escape from. It had a special little pouch you tucked the zipper in so that the baby couldn't unzip it themselves. But somehow, Chris managed to figure out how to free the zipper and let himself out.

So my mom began safety pinning the zipper to the cage, so that even if he could get the zipper out of the pouch, he couldn't unzip it.

Until he learned how to undo a safety pin. As a one year old.

Finally in desperation to make Christian continue taking naps, my mom fashioned a "lock" out of a wall hook and a shoe lace so that she essentially could LOCK Christian in his room and he couldn't get out. He never found a way to get out of this one.

But he did find a way to finally make my mom give up her fight. When his crying and screaming did not merit his release, he went to the only weapon he had...his own poop. One day, after my mom had decided "nap time" was over, she unlocked the door, and found Christian sitting in the middle of the floor, covered in poop. And he wasn't the only one. There was poop on the crib, on the walls, on the floor, on EVERYTHING in the room. She recalls standing there agast as Christian sat happily in the middle of his own deification, 100% aware of what he had done and quite pleased with it.

8. The car vomit
Anyone who knew Joe as a child knew of his "affinity" for vomit. The kid threw up at LEAST once a day, usually at every meal. We think this is because he a)didn't have an "I'm full" mechanism and ate so fast that by the time his body knew what had happened it made him throw up because he had consumed FAR too much food, and b)he also had the most intense gag reflex of any human ever. ANYTHING could make the kid throw up. If he saw a PICTURE of something disgusting, he would throw up. Joe has never gone to the restaurant Lone Star and NOT thrown up (we don't go anymore for this very reason).

This particular vomit story is maybe the most epic. It was summer time, so we were all home, and it was cleaning day, which happened once a week. We had to be out of the way, so every week we'd go to some breakfast restaurant and then do random things. I think this week was going to be shopping, or the movies. Either way, we went to Silver Diner for breakfast, and afterward, we all hopped in the van to drive the maybe 200 yards max to the mall.

I guess right before we got in the van we started talking about this coat one of my brother's friends had left at our house (note, this coat was NOT in the van, it was still at our house). Josh and Jacob were talking about how bad this coat smelled, and I was turned around in the front seat to listen to them. The next thing I knew, Joe was throwing up alllllll over himself. He was throwing up just REMEMBERING the smell of the coat. As I have now graduated from college, my vomit tolerance is excellent, but my 14 year old self was not so accomplished. I immediately felt my stomach come into my mouth, rolled down the van window, and threw up onto the side of the van.

Christian, witnessing both of these things, ALSO proceeded to vomit all over himself. It was like a chain reaction of horrible. I think my mom was just stunned that it all had happened so quickly (but then she got reeeeeeeeally mad).


When we visit my mom's dad and stepmom in New Jersey, we always go to church at the Catholic Church that is literally right next to their house. It's this tiny church that maybe seats 300-500 people max. Let it be known that at church, my dad is always the loudest person in the congregation. The loudest singer, the loudest participant in spoken prayer, you name it. When he says the Nicene Creed, he sounds like Mufasa.

This particular Sunday the opening hymn was "Praise to the Lord the Almighty," which if you don't know it, sounds like this (skip the beginning part, start at :40). Padre was no different. He was singing louder than any individual in the room. As the first verse drew to a close, the organist slowed down to signal that the song was over and we would only be singing one verse. A message very clearly received by everyone.

Everyone, that is, except my father. Honestly, who hasn't been there. You think a song is going to keep going so you keep singing. Maybe it's a little embarrassing but most likely no one hears you, or you can play it off.

That was not the case in this situation. I'm pretty sure people down the street could hear my father begin the second verse. And it wasn't just the note either. My dad was really into the song and decided to really draw the first note out and scoop into it with a nice "Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraise!" The church was SILENT except for his resonating voice. The priest paused for a second to recover, and then began mass. My dad, as usual, was relatively unphased and probably oblivious to any embarrassment a normal person would feel. The rest of my family, however, were beside themselves. I was crying with silent laughter. Even my MOM was unable to keep it together. I don't think Jacob and I stopped laughing until well into the first reading, and even then, any time one of us stopped, the other would verrrrry quietly sing "Prrrraise!" and we'd lose it again.

10. The epic pee story
I had to save this for last because it's absolutely my best story. I was a freshman in high school, and Sarah Smith and Kelly Sproesser had come over to hang out with me and see the new house (we had just moved in). We were hanging out in my room (playing my Harry Potter trivia game, in fact), and my brothers (Joe and Chris) were taking a bath (they were both little and could still take baths together without it being weird). My dad was "giving them a bath", which actually meant he was in his room watching TV while my brothers sat in the bathtub. The bathroom is on the same wall as my (old) room, so we were able to hear everything 100% clearly. The first thing that happened was Joe started SCREAMING. It was so loud that we stopped playing our game so we could listen to what was happening. Next was Christian's maniacal laughter (he was 5, Joe was 6).

My dad ran in the bathroom and this is what we heard:
Dad: What's going on?! Joe why are you screaming what's going on?!
Joe: Chris PEED on me!
(we immediately start laughing in my room)

I thought I would never stop laughing but it got even better. Joe, still in vomit phase, immediately began to throw up. My dad, so tired of vomit phase, did not punish Chris, but instead yelled: "JOE! STOP THROWING UP. STOP THROWING UP JOE! STOP THROWING UP!" Chris just laughed the entire time (as did we).

It maybe is the funniest thing I have ever witnessed.

Years later, when we were telling this story at one of our parties, I asked Chris how he even peed in Joe's mouth in the first place. He indignantly said "Well I was only trying to pee on his BACK, but then HE turned around!"

This was a picture we had taken professionally as an anniversary gift to my parents. It basically sums the Kingett children up.

No comments:

Post a Comment