Will somebody please let me do this to their hair at SCBWI? Pretty please?

So you know when you go away to college, and you come home that first time and everything feels different? It’s your town, your house, your room with your clutter, but somehow in that familiar song there now exists a discordant note. While away, you’ve changed in some inexplicable, infinitesimal way and have become slightly alien. The Lady Gaga of your childhood home, if you will. Well this last weekend was the complete opposite of that when I went home to visit family in Southern California. I’m the same person, but everyone else seems to have gone Gaga.

“I’m not a dog person.”

When I had a dog and lived in So Cal my sister would listen with half an ear to me worrying about leaving my dog home too often or how I was having to put in sod to give my baby a yard. I’d say something like “BB is howling when I’m not home, and I feel like an awful mother” to which she’d respond with a half-hearted “Hmm… Did I tell you about my son’s problem? Because, you know, he’s like an actual PERSON. And not a DOG.” My sister is one of those people who rolls her eyes at pet stories and people who love to tell them. She openly admits she is not a dog person. Then, two weeks ago her four children and husband managed to convince her to get a chocolate Lab puppy. My first night home, I watched in shock as my sister rolled around on the floor with Reuger, growling at him and playing tug. When I said, “What happened to not liking animals?” she told me in a superior tone that DOGS are like CHILDREN – you love your own more than other peoples’. I see dog sweaters in her future.

My sister the dog-hater and Reuger

“Move that bus.”

Somebody – AVIS – in my family had the bright idea to fix up my mother’s house for Mother’s Day. My sister tricked me into coming home by leaving out how much work was involved and plying me with sweet children’s voices saying, “We miss you, Auntie! Come home!” Too weak to resist, I spent Mother’s Day with my three siblings and assorted in-laws, nieces, and nephews at my mom’s. We painted three rooms, laid new carpet, swapped my mom’s rooms with her roommate’s so my mom could have the downstairs, and then put everything away cleaner and more organized than we’d found it. Now my siblings have a rich history of hating on each other, but we have entered an Era of Peace. Everyone demonstrated our particular brand of mocking, snarky affection, and there was a helluva lot of laughter. And Avis, my sister-in-law? She may have some bruises from where we punched her (to discourage any future ideas on her part – we’re big on negative reinforcement), but we’re all glad we were there despite the fact that the bus was a ladder and nobody cried when we moved it, except my niece who suffered from a severe sugar crash.

“Is that Aunt Helen?”

My Aunt Helen – whom I’ve only met once in my life – went to live with my mom after I moved to San Francisco. A stranger popped up in our midst while we were busy doing our Extreme Makeover, and I leaned over to ask my brother-in-law, “Is that Aunt Helen?” to which he said, “Only in your family would you have to ask.” Too true, Curto. Too true.

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day weekend!