The Rude Awakening Pt. VI
"King me, Magus," Sally said while pushing one of her red checkers to the end of Grand Father's side of the board. Grand Father complied with a smile. He wasn't even trying to lose on purpose, Sally just had a gift with checkers.
Jimmy was sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating potato chips after having been eliminated from the checkers tournament three games ago. He failed to notice an opportunity to double-jump Sally and as a consequence ended up squaring off against four kings who had backed his remaining pieces into a corner. He never stood a chance.
All three were dressed in their formal robes and had spent the past two and a half days playing games and being lazy. Not the usual kind of lazy, but rather the well earned, justified sort of lazy that happens every once in a while if one is lucky.
Meanwhile back at Jimmy and Sally's houses, their Parents had been asleep for the past two and a half days. They weren't sleeping out of laziness but rather as a side effect of the counter-Whammy Jimmy's Grand Father and the Spirit of Jimmy's Grand Mother had placed upon them. While they slept each Parent was visited by the spirit of Jimmy's Grand Mother who explained to them, one by one, how they had crossed the line by placing a Whammy on their children instead of parenting them.
Each parent was forced to watch Jimmy and Sally as they were trapped in the Lil' Grove of Suicides. Each Parent watched helplessly as Jimmy and Sally grew up all alone. Each Parent felt the fear and hopelessness of the children as they watched them search for food in a strange word that they forced them to grow up all alone in.
One by one, each of the Parents came to realize how wrong they were. They saw how evil and selfish their scheme was. No matter how hard they protested otherwise, they slowly came to realize that their Children's behavior was no one's fault but their own and that there is no excuse for using magic to manipulate anyone, let alone your own children.
Unlike Jimmy and Sally, their Parents should have known better. At the very least they could have known better. They should have paid attention, but they didn't want to. They were too concerned about looking like good parents instead of being good parents.
Of course, they argued that it wasn't all their fault. After all, it was and is incredibly difficult to be a proper parent and how could they be blamed for making mistakes? Everyone else makes mistakes, after all. Why are we so different?
While the parents argued that they were indeed good parents and that they were justified in their actions, they eventually spoke too much and their words tied their ideas into nooses and hung them. Their Parents had no choice but to admit they were in the wrong and found nothing left to do but hang their heads in shame.
While it is true that being a good and proper parent is, or maybe is, the most difficult thing to do, it is also true that becoming a parent is a totally voluntary thing and, as such, one should not undertake the endeavor if one intends to make excuses instead of children.
When it was over, all the Parents had realized exactly what they had really done, and they awoke. When they finally returned after three days of tortuous dreams they needed more than a cup of coffee to start their internal engines.
Jimmy's Parents were unable to look each other in the eye or speak so much as a "Good morning, sweetheart" to each other for almost three hours. When they could bring themselves to speak to each other, they had trouble forming whole words. They spent a considerable amount of time sheepishly looking at one another and stammering. Eventually, they gave up trying to explain and justify what they had done and started crying on each other.
The Slam's fared no better when they returned from the Dreamlands. They also spent a few hours adjusting to and assimilating what they had experienced and also eventually ended up crying.
Grand Father checked his watched and announced, "Children, it's time to go back and see your Parents. Are you ready?"
"Do I have to take my robe off?" Sally asked.
"Yes. These robes are for official Society business and practicing magic in, not scaring the bajeebus out of your Mother," answered Grand Father.
Sally looked slightly disappointed but understood the need for secret keeping when it came to Society business.
"Well," Jimmy's Grand Father went on, "I suppose, just this once, we could scare the bajeebus out of them."
Sally and Jimmy both smiled. Jimmy asked, "Daggers too?" with big hopeful eyes.
"Yes, daggers too. But just this once, agreed?"
"Agreed," the children said in harmony, which is different than speaking in unison.
The children spent a few minutes putting away their snacks and toys and helping Grand Father straighten up the house before they piled into Grand Father's car and headed towards Jimmy's house. When they arrived, Grand Father pulled into the driveway and put the car in park, but left it running.
"Children, this may be difficult to hear after all you've been through. You'll have to trust me."
"What is it?" Jimmy asked, a knot of fear appearing in his stomach.
"Well, it's just that….I, well…I can't go in the house with you. You have to face your parents alone."
"Why?" Sally asked.
"Because," Grand Father began, "it's how it must be. My part has been played, the Whammy is broken and it is now up to you to decide how to treat your parents."
"Oh," Sally sighed and hung her head a bit.
"Chin up, lass. After everything you've been through over the past few weeks, this will seem like a walk in the park."
Sally smiled weakly and nodded. Somewhere, her little brain knew Grand Father was right, but she wished he would still come in and see her Parents with her.
Sally hugged Grand Father and thanked him for all he had done and extra thanked him for the robe before exiting the car. She stood in the driveway waiting for Jimmy.
Jimmy tried to shake his Grand Father's hand but ended up hugging him anyway before getting out of the car and standing next to Sally. They waved to Grand Father as he backed down to the street and drove off.
Jimmy and Sally gave each other the parting salute of The Society.
"See you tomorrow morning?" Jimmy asked.
"Yeah, we'll have some weird stuff to talk about I'm sure."
The each took a deep breath before parting ways to meet their parents. Neither child knew what to expect, but neither child had to, they just had to go inside. No one other than the Slam's and the Jam's knew what transpired between Parent and Child that night or why the lights were on well past everyone's bedtimes. That was a good thing since it was no one else's business what happened that night.
The next morning Jimmy finished eating breakfast, washed his bowl, and brushed his teeth before meeting Sally in the backyard. He found her there sitting on a tree stump leafing through a comic book.
"How'd it go?"
"Good, I guess. It's like we're roommates now. I don't get yelled at or bossed around as much anymore. They said they had no idea how to raise me right and that made them scared, so they put the Whammy on me. Then they said that I know more about being me than they do and they'll make sure they remember that from now on. How did it go with your Folks?"
"About the same."
They spent the rest of the day sword fighting (with sticks), talking about how cool Tiger Tail Resort was, and practicing "Society stuff", as they called it. When they were hungry they went into Jimmy's house to get something to eat. They were greeted by Jimmy's Mother who politely insisted on preparing lunch for the three of them. She even asked them what they would like to have and didn't blink an eye when they answered: "Ice cream, please."
"OK," Jimmy's Mom began, "But just this once ok? And don't tell your father," she finished with a wink.
Evening came and with it bedtime. The children made no fuss and their Parents didn't prod or demand they retire. Jimmy and Sally simply went to bed when they wanted to, which was, oddly enough, around the same time as their official bedtimes.
Later that night Jimmy's Grand Father prepared himself for sleep. He took off his bathrobe and climbed into bed, pulling the covers all the way up over his head, just the way he liked them. As he began to fall asleep he began to dream. When he dreamed, he always dreamed of his late wife May, also known in some circles as Jimmy's Grand Mother. Often they would dance together, sometimes they would talk, no matter what they got in or up to, they would smile together until he woke up. When he woke up a sadness would overtake him. Not paralyze him, just overtake him, making wanting to get out of bed a little harder than it should be. But right now, he was still asleep, holding his love in his arms as they were dancing to their favorite song. If this wasn't Heaven, neither of them would have noticed.
"Well May, I think we did it," Jimmy's Grand Father said to Jimmy's Grand Mother.
"Did what, my sweet?" She replied knowing exactly what he was referring to.
"I think we fixed all the mistakes we made raising our kids."
"I think you're right," she said, kissing his cheek. "I didn't think we were ever going to straighten that one out."
"Come on now," said Jimmy's Grand Father. "Our mistakes didn't stand a chance against us, what with your keen mind and my quick hands, we could have fixed anything."
Jimmy's Grand Mother said, "We had some help you know," and then she leaned her head on her beloved's shoulder and they silently enjoyed the rest of their song.