We could be eating at the Green Kitchen diner on 1st Avenue and 77th Street, or we could be visiting the American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France (as my family was days before I wrote this note). It doesn’t matter whether we’re eating breakfast or standing on hollowed historical ground. Family is family, and it always amazes me how quickly we move from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again.
In Normandy, we learned of the bloody sacrifices made by so many Americans, British, and French against the Nazis. It felt like we were breathing in pure awe.
But then my 12-year-old son misplaced one of our tour guide’s special laminated information handouts, and he didn’t own up to it (at first), and it was embarrassing and we had to go in search of it and we were not happy with his carelessness and porous truthfulness. But in the end we found it, and at least we didn’t impose that burden on our guide.
In the face of such testimony to the best and worst of humanity, perhaps it was ridiculous to get worked up about our son, but his behavior was in keeping with a trend of late. You know how it is. You know how quickly things can change, too.
Later that day we were at our best as a family. As we drove back to our chateau in the dark, our car’s directional service led us through what seemed like an unlikely maze of local roads and a long, unbearable series of traffic circles and, ultimately, to a destination that wasn’t ours.
We could have bickered and added to the anxiety of the situation. Instead, we channeled our annoyance by making fun of our virtual guide’s amiable incompetence. We had fun and got through it.
As we head into fall, I hope your family has more laughs than tears, and more triumphs of love and patience and kindness than failures to get along and complete breakdowns.
Eric Messinger is the editor of New York Family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org