Bowling seemed like a good idea at the time.
I didn’t have high expectations. I simply hoped for a better result than last Spring Break, when Vivian melted down because her name was listed last on the monitor; when my husband finished in fourth place, behind me and two kids who still peed in their pull-ups at night; and when William got three pudgy fingers shmushed in a heavy glass door while an entire U18 hockey team looked on in horror. Those athletes may have taken pucks in the face, but they hadn’t seen smashed fingers on a four-year-old.
This year, I was cautiously optimistic.
With an order predetermined, we marched down stairs steeper than the London Tube. I smuggled in drinks (caffeine for me) and snacks, and my husband reminded William to mind his fingers.
We donned shoes broken in by the Society of People with Foot Ailments, and then started bowling.
Vivian went first, the only acceptable position for a girl who, since the moment of her birth, has been trying to make up for the fact that she was born second by two minutes. In the first frame, she knocked all the pins down with her third ball and clenched her fist in a moment of quiet pride.
Next, William heaved the ball down the center of the lane only to watch it for a nanosecond before being distracted by the mechanism of the ball return.
My turn: a strike. Like everything I do (including writing), I start strong and then fizzle out.
Then it was my husband’s turn. His first ball nipped a corner pin. “I like to get the hard ones first,” he said, suppressing a grin.
“You’ll do better next time, Dad,” Vivian encouraged. If a five-year-old can be patronizing, she nailed it.
Just before releasing his next ball, my husband turned around and glared at William, who was gliding on the wood with his groovy shoes.
“Will,” I said, “please don’t bug Daddy. He has enough trouble bowling without you distracting him.”
The game didn’t get much better. William did well but didn’t care. Vivian agonized as she watched her score creep up slower than anyone else’s. My husband muttered various profanities as the king pin alluded him.
Frame ten ended with Vivian in tears. “It’s an awful day!” she wailed. “I got last place.” She cried her way through the glass doors and up the stairs, for once not caring her brother led the way to the van.
Welcome to Bowling for Breakdowns, my family’s specialty.
Feel free to share your bowling or Spring Breakdown experiences in the comments below. Misery loves company.