Mule, Not Mewl

The Man I Married taps his toothbrush three items on the edge of the sink when he’s done brushing his teeth.

So does my son, the Little Monster.

Score one for nurture.

The Man I Married often repeats things, especially punchlines, three times. So did his grandmother.

The Little Monster? I wish he stopped at three times.

The Man I Married’s mother often said that when MIM was a baby he was inoculated with a phonograph needle. When he was outside playing with a group of kids, she never had to check on him, because she just listened for the constant sound of his voice that was louder than any of the others.

A psychiatrist we once visited said that the Little Monster basically has an iPod attached to his brain, broadcasting every single thought (typical of the ADHD child). LM wakes up every morning in mid-sentence, his eyes and mouth wide open at the same time to cheerfully and energetically greet the day. His vocal cords are like Popeye’s biceps on spinach.

Score one for nature.

The Man I Married’s father said that he had to hit MIM over the head with a 2×4 to get his attention. And that he was like a mule.

Ditto the Little Monster.

Nature again.

Now wait a gosh darned minute. We skated around the ole biology connection here, so I thought I’d been handed a Get Out of Inherited Annoying Traits From Your Spouse Free card.

Nope. I don’t know how it happened, but they are two peas in a pod. Both singing (not so bad) and passing gas (not so good) the livelong day.

And although the annoyance factor has been multiplied by two, it’s the most adorable thing in the world.

What did the Little Monster “inherit” from me, I suppose?

If the mule thing wasn’t already taken, I’d cop to that one. My father often insists that my mother’s side of the family is stubborn.

The Little Monster is SO stubborn that I can believe that it’s a trait that’s been squared in him on the nurture side on top of nature’s deep roots.

And that’s why we made it as a family, I suppose, just a trio of mules who dug our hooves in and refused to call it quits on each other even when the going got tough.  

We met the Little Monster exactly four years ago today, when he was just shy of his sixth birthday. When DSHS convened a meeting to decide whether MIM and I would be a good fit as the Little Monster’s forever family, LM’s social worker voiced her concern that I didn’t talk enough. Right. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise while MIM b.s.’d the room full of nurturing women. He’d done the same thing with our first landlord when trying to convince him to rent a house to us, though we were both unemployed and many other people were competing for the bungalow. MIM waxed poetic about being an injured veteran and pretended interest in water valve shutoffs and lawn care; we got the house. As we did the Little Monster. I’ve learned when to shut up and let MIM work the room.

As if my not talking enough would be a problem in this braying family.

MIM kept from rolling his eyes at the social worker’s suggestion that I was more of a mewler than a mule. (My father cannot roll his eyes. I hope the Little Monster takes after my side of the family on that one.)

MIM knows that when the cat’s got my tongue, I have other ways of communicating, such as throwing a potato at him (that was 24 years ago, and now I am wiser and would throw something soft like a tomato, which would effectively yet silently express my displeasure yet not break the dining room window like the potato did when MIM ducked and it sailed over his head—he concedes that the potato throw was warranted by what he said to provoke it).

I can’t say that I make as much noise—or as much mess—as my two guys, but I can get up a pretty good hee haw when those two get me laughing. Or when I’m yelling at them to pipe down. Or when I’m proving to them with gusto that I know all of the words to O Canada (and Canadians don’t put the “h” in their “oh” because they are anti-“silent h” as well as anti-gun?). Or when I’m saying today, thunderous as an atomic bomb, “Happy Anniversary to my little nuclear family!”

To us and to you, our friends and family who helped us to become a forever family, please join me for a hearty Mazeltov!, loud as a Malotov cocktail.

The Strangler Fig: Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
Now on Kindle at

Six sensual, darkly fantastic tales that reimagine classics such as Dorian Gray, Helen of Troy, and The Yellow Wallpaper. The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories author turns to a darker eros with her new collection of haunting and magical tales, which have appeared in various fantasy, horror, and literary anthologies.

Cover image courtesy of Rhonda “Shellbelle” Renee © 2009,

4 thoughts on “Mule, Not Mewl

  1. Oh Jen, you are the best! I love your new family! I wish that Tom and I lived closer to you to share great times! When we were in Seattle, that was a GREAT time. Thank you and love to all three of you, Karla

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