Somebody said to me yesterday, “You and your husband must be saints, having teenagers in the house all summer” -see yesterday’s post “The Give and the Get” – but it makes me so uncomfortable when people start with that you-must-be-saints stuff.
I grew up in a three-generation household so it feels totally normal to me to have a bunch of people under one roof and I’m guessing it feels normal to Old Dave too. Wasn’t he one of four brothers in a three-bedroom house that also included a single aunt?
Didn’t he share a room with that aunt as a baby?
These are the four Marotta boys on the left here. That’s oldest brother Toby looking like a teen idol, then my future husband David with his striped shirt and his white teeth, then in the front row younger brothers Skip and Jeff.
Even here in our current house we’ve had many years when there were six or even seven kids, only three of whom our biological ‘own’ kids – and this is back in the era when we had just one shower. .
David does occasionally have insomnia these days, so the one request I made to the guys when they moved in last June was that they be out of the downstairs after midnight which is when the affliction really hits. I figure what sleepless adult born before the first moon landing wants to come downstairs with his George R.R. Martin book to find a 17-year-old draped on the couch in front of the Cartoon Network?
They got that. Of course they got that. They also got it that I don’t want to be chatted with when I’m writing.
And for our part we ‘got’ some things too. A long time ago we started ‘getting’ it that most houseguests don’t want to be fussed over. Accordingly, we showed the boys the spoons and dishes and bought them the right milk and the right cereals and the kinds of chees and rolls and coldcuts that they like. We showed them the pots and the cutting boards and kept the fruit bowl full and that was about all we had to do.
They were easy – in part because they are ABC Scholars, young people who because of their academic ability and their ambition applied as eighth graders to the national A Better Chance program and ended up coming here to this town with its first-rate high school. They left home and family at 14 to do this – some came at 13 – and they know better than most of us how to navigate new waters.
Plus having lived with one another in the ABC House, they’re wonderfully neat. The bathroom they used all summer never had so much as a wet towel in it never mind any toiletries. They carry those things in and when they’re done they carry them back out again.
Then they’re so funny and smart and they wrestle each other to the floor just like I used to see Dave’s brothers do with him when we were young and I was first coming into the Marotta family.
So saints? We’re no saints. We’re just doing what we’ve always done in this house. This below is Dodson, our own ABC host son, when he lived here too just before heading off to college in long-ago 1990. Then under that here is he is again teasing our oldest girl Carrie. They painted the study for me and earned money pulling the old shingles off the front porch roof that summer. I look at these pictures and remember back over these last two months and think, well, the fun is where you make it in life!