Family Unit

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.08.48 PMThere seem to be two kinds of drivers in the world: those who decorate their cars with bumper stickers and decals, and those who don’t. And it seems that, like tattoos, one is never enough. It’s rather entertaining, while stuck in traffic, to read these expressions of belief, loyalty, and personality. Maybe the drivers are outgoing, friendly people who would strike up a conversation in a grocery checkout line, but since we’re trapped at rush hour, they let their cars broadcast their most important news: (My son is an honor student! Go Blackhawks! Notre Dame Alumni!, Imagine Whirled Peas).
My recent favorites are the stick figure families that provide an inventory of each family member. Mom and dad, three sons, an infant, and two dogs. This iconography seems to have supplanted the “baby on board” sign, proudly giving everyone equal billing, whether you’re onboard or not. It’s sort of a census report combined with a hobby and vacation recap (skeet shooting! a visit to the Magic Kingdom!). And sports fans, who must spend loads of time in their SUV going to practices and games, are decked out in the correct equipment: hockey family in their skates and pads, the baseball family, and the gymnasts. I want to sidle up next to the car with the Star Wars family to see if there are really twin girls in the back with Princess Leia honey-bun hair-dos, and if the Darth Vader dad is really driving with that helmet on.

We are a family of four. While I don’t display that on my rear window, it is the way I always think of our family. Even though our kids are in their twenties, our nest is almost “empty”, and we are together less frequently. I’m glad my kids are independent and capable, but there’s always going to be that gravitational pull that wants them back in the idealized state, at the dinner table, in the van on vacation, around the Christmas tree. And for a brief moment, captured in a family photo. Regrouped, fixed in time, unchanging. Like those stick figures.

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