You've played that game, right? I played it all the time when I was growing up. You know -- the one where you'd choose which parent you'd live with if they got divorced. (I always played this game in my head of course. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.)
Every single time I played, I'd always choose my dad. It was nothing against you, Mama Schwag. I love you both equally. I just felt like the courts would force Jacy to live with Mom because, let's face it, Jacy's a complete mama's girl. I'm about 98 percent sure Mom still calls to wake Jacy up in the mornings. And when Jacy loses her keys/cell phone, who's the first person she calls? Mom. For some reason, Mom can always remind Jacy that she left them in the parking lot/freezer.
I also knew Dad would need someone to not only cook and clean, but help him do chores and watch gates. I felt like I was the best girl for the job. (At the time, I took Gina out of the running because she was 10 years older than me and in college. Surely she wouldn't move home to live with Dad, would she?)
By choosing to live with my father in a faux divorce settlement, I think I inadvertently learned things that no other girls/boys at my age knew. I had to be prepared in case the worst happened. (Middle Child Syndrome -- we're realists and cynics. Divorce rates were climbing quickly!) First, I learned the basic things... how to fasten a fishing line to a hook, how to make perfectly-mixed Windsor-Squirts, and how to watch the History channel with my eyes open. But then I started asking Dad to teach me more in-depth things.
Grinding corn? Check. Changing oil filters on a tractor? Check. Sharpening sickles? Check. Netting the river for minnows? Definitely. Making "bombs" to blow rabbits out of old irrigation system pipes? Oh hell yeah. (Though I'm fairly certain this is why Dad and I are hard of hearing...not to mention our poor dog, Lady, who typically waited anxiously near the pipe to eat the rabbit. She had no idea a bomb was going to blow up in her face. She walked around in circles, ear-to-ground, for weeks.)
One summer, I even helped Dad change the sprinkler heads on an entire irrigation system. Yeah, I'm awesome like that. There are days I wonder why I'm still single. Ohhh wait, it's because I can't sit around playing stupid while a guy "teaches" me how to fish. Belieeeveeee me, I've tried to be less cool than I am. Take the other night, for instance. Some really gorgeous man offered to teach me how to play Baggo. I played stupid for a while - oh, ya know, beginner's luck giggle, giggle. I think he caught on to me when I hit the mark with my eyes closed. He left soon after. (Really, I think he left because I screamed "SUCK IT!" and made obnoxious, Eminem-like hand gestures around my waist/thigh area after sinking a shot. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm still single.)
There was one thing -- besides the hunting/fishing/Judge Judy-watching -- that Dad loved to do and that was positively unique to my family. He absolutely loved playing Tag. If I were to have lived with Dad post-divorce, I would've been forced to be on my toes at all times. Hmmm, maybe a divorce would have been in my best interest. Playing 10 straight years of Tag surely could have helped my childhood obesity problem....
I'm not sure when the game started, but I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I believe it may have begun in our front yard -- just Jacy, Dad and I playing a friendly game of Tag. We didn't really have rules in our game of Tag. Jacy and I were on one team and Dad was on the other. Really, the only time we couldn't "tag" someone is when they were sleeping because that was unfair.
The game was fairly harmless for Dad and Jacy. Not so much for Jessica. One time, I went to tag Dad in the living room. I had so much momentum going that I completely missed him and jammed my thumb into the floor. I passed out for minutes. The same incident happened out by our sandbox, too. I chased Dad around the sandbox to tag him, I fell off the sandbox, I reached out to tag him, I missed him and jammed my thumb on the ground. Out cold. Another time, when we were playing in the front yard, I tripped over my own fat feet and took a tumble, causing a chronic scraped-up knee. (Seriously, my clumsiness caused it to never quite heal. Red Rover, marching band, volleyball -- all things that caused my knee to be a bloody, oozing mess for years. Hot.)
Despite the injuries, we have kept our game of Tag going for almost 20 years. I'm sure that has to be a World Record of some sort. Everytime Jacy and I come home, we can expect to be knocked upside the head, jabbed in the arm, kicked -- really, whatever it takes for Dad to make sure "we're it."
Okay, so my family may be a little different. I mean, who comes up with a neverending game of Tag? But I love 'em and couldn't ask for better parents. I'm happy they didn't get divorced. Happy (almost) Father's Day, Papa Schwag! Thanks for teaching me everything I know about the most random shit in the world. Love you.
Jacy and I are making an epic trip back to Nebraska in three weeks. Let the games begin, Dad. TAG, YOU'RE IT!