“ You don’t look happy, honey,” said Andrew Jackson, leaning back in his
chair as he made this observation. His wife, Rose, sitting across from him at the dining room table, took a look out of the window before she replied.
“It’s probably just the weather,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m kind of depressed myself.” Andrew leaned forward and picked up his coffee mug. “Tell you what,” he continued. “Maybe it would be therapeutic if we tried to look at it from the worst perspective possible.” He took a sip of coffee and put the mug back down. “Like this, for instance. The highest temperature we’ve seen so far this year is 18, and two weeks from now the days are going to start getting shorter, which means it’ll start cooling off.”
“How depressing is that,” said Rose. She paused for a moment to think about it. “How about this? The average low temperature on June 7 is 11 but the forecast for today calls for a high temperature of only 10. That means the high temperature won’t even get up to the normal low temperature for the day.”
Andrew heaved a theatrical sigh. “It’s bad all right,” he said, but then brightened a little. “Still the forecast says it’ll be up to 25 on the weekend.”
Rose looked unimpressed. “That’s not a real forecast,” she said. “That’s just a suicide prevention forecast.”
Andrew heaved a real sigh this time. “Now that is a depressing thought,” he said.
There was a brief silence as the two of them sipped on their coffee.
“Your therapy ain’t working,” said Rose.
“That’s putting it mildly,” said Andrew. “Something tells me though, that the weather’s not the only thing having a negative impact on your happiness level. Am I right?”
Rose nodded. “You are. Do you want to put your therapy skills to work on the real problem?”
Andrew pondered that for a moment. “Probably,” he said. “As long as I’m not the problem.”
Rose chuckled. “For once it’s not you,” she said. “Well not directly. It’s your progeny that’s the problem.”
“I washed my hands of them a long time ago,” said Andrew. “I take no responsibility.”
“Well in that case maybe you are the problem,” said Rose.
“Just kidding,” said Andrew. “So, what’s bothering you?”
“Oh you know,” said Rose. “Jennifer and her secret boyfriend. Brady moving in with his girlfriend. Randy and Jackie having another baby so soon after Allison. You know. All that.”
Andrew nodded slowly. “I thought it might be that,” he said.
“Well now, you know,” said Rose. “Feel free to start your therapy at any time.”
Andrew nodded again and stroked his chin in what he assumed was a therapist-like way. “Have you considered the possibility,” he said, “of using denial as a coping method?”
“Of course,” said Rose. “That was my first response. Unfortunately denial seems to work a lot better for you than it does for me.”
“Hmm.” Andrew continued to stroke his chin and nod. “So denial was ineffective eh? Perhaps you should consider misplaced anger as an alternative. You could be angry at, say, Dolores over at the flower shop for giving Amanda a job, without which Amanda would have had to stay in Winnipeg rather than moving to town with Brady. It’s all Dolores’ fault you see.” He paused. “That option has the added benefit of guaranteeing that it’s not my fault.”
“It’s not your fault,” said Rose, “so don’t worry about that. And stop stroking your chin.”
Andrew stopped. “Have you considered the possibility,” he said seriously, “that the behaviour of my…our,” he corrected himself, “progeny might be pretty normal when you really think about it?”
It was Rose’s turn to sigh. “Yes, I have,” she said. “It probably is pretty normal, and I’m wondering why that doesn’t make me feel better.”
“Face it,” said Andrew, “nobody wants their kids to be normal.”
Rose broke into a smile at that, and then actually laughed, for the first time. “That is so true,” she said. “I hadn’t thought of it quite that way. But I guess I do want my kids to be more than just normal.”
“Which they all are, in their own way,” said Andrew. “But in most ways they’re just normal which is pretty danged amazing when you look at the parents they’re stuck with.”
Rose laughed again. Andrew pushed his chair back and got up.
“We should remember also how much worse things could be,” he said walking around the table to stand behind his wife. He put his hands on her shoulders and rubbed gently.
“Worse how?” asked Rose.
“Consider who is having the baby,” said Andrew, “and then consider the alternatives.”
Rose smiled at that. “Wow,” she said. “Count your blessings eh?”
Andrew leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “Right,” he said. “Feeling better?”
“I am,” said Rose. “Thank you, Dr. Jackson.” “You’re welcome,” said Andrew.