Being a passionate, full-blooded, quick-to-temper family, I am not ashamed to admit that our domestic scraps can be fierce, acerbic and intemperate. Peace is equally quick to reign, but during the midst of a skirmish simmering rages can erupt and explode with unexpected consequences. For most part we get by, but when it occurs, bystanders are just as likely to be scathed by their intensity and closeness. In the early years, I would maintain a stiff upper lip, but it was wasted on the natives who inhabit our home, who thought I was chickening out. I don’t like being labelled a wuss any more than the next person, and what’s a war of words if you’re silent instead of raging? No sir, of late, I’ve chosen to enter the fray, even if it means coming out of the domestic turf blooded and bruised.
The reason for these brawls is mostly inconsequential, as occurred when my daughter objected to my wife for something she’d posted — or not posted — on a WhatsApp group. My wife retaliated by saying the group consisted of a bunch of nincompoops — or words to that effect. My daughter said my wife was a *blip* (word deleted). My wife said our daughter was a, well, let’s just say, not very polite person. All of this would have been of little merit had we not been leaving to attend a wedding reception. My wife said she would not go — which was a bluff, since it is difficult to keep her away from parties of any kind. Our daughter said she would not go — which was a threat and what she had been spoiling for anyway since she dislikes going anywhere where her bunch of close friends is unlikely to be present.
Both were cajoled into coming and stuffed into a car and driven across town, but continued to sulk, at which I got upset and said things any head of family should not — since it inevitably comes back to bite him in the butt. The long and short of it is that we messed up our hosts’ calculation of the number of guests for dinner by storming back home, hungry, and feeling just a little bit ridiculous for having abandoned a reasonable dinner — all the more idiotic because there weren’t even leftovers in the fridge.
By the following morning everyone wanted to sue for peace, but since nobody was willing to take the first step, we continued to pass snide remarks, or ignore each other, while secretly hoping for a round of family hugs. My son and his bride, peacemakers in the melee since they’d had no role to play in the acrimony, dismissed us as a bunch of cranks and shut themselves up in their room. From being an innocent bystander, I’d been pronounced curmudgeon-in-chief.
That evening, our daughter came bearing peace offerings, making her — rather than her parents — the better person. Since you can’t be resentful and grateful at the same time, I reprised the stiff upper lip — expressing neither joy nor gratitude — which was a childish thing to do. Even though the battle wasn’t mine to begin with, I’m now going to have to bribe my way back into family favour — a fight that’s going to cost me for no reason at all.