Steamy at home
Weather resembles children - something parents, with a moment's thought, will understand. For instance, in the beginning, systems collide. Like an intense low hurrying westward across the South Atlantic meeting a swooping jet stream dipping into Alabama, Georgia, and northern Florida to drag buckets of moisture up the Eastern Seaboard, these things happen.
Although each member of a parent pair may believe he or she has become involved serendipitously with just the right complementary weather system, in fact there are steering currents, upper level currents, or lowdown ones, the jet stream and the surface flows. Somebody cosmic is guiding the outcomes.
These collisions spawn offspring who can be demanding and will certainly require constant care and tracking. The spawn of these colliding systems may vary widely in their effect on the countryside. Some are very intense disturbances from birth, but only locally troublesome, causing concentrated devastation.
Others wreak havoc across wide areas, affecting the lives of generations within a family and even relative strangers inhabiting whole communities.
And you can never be sure what will happen. Sometimes it's clear in Vineyard Haven, foggy as a sock at Gay Head (I'm talking about the cliffs, not the town formerly known as).
The brightest offspring of these collisions have their highs and lows. There are almost always storm clouds on the horizon of youth. Some pass without thunder or lightning, some drop two inches of gloom on the house.
Some kids are out-and-out twisters. Some are a hazy, blustery day on Vineyard Sound. Some are a gale of wind, cold easterly wind right off the wild, intractable Atlantic.
Others are calm, bright, placid, like a still, hot afternoon under the dominant influence of a Bermuda high. Then, wise parents wait for, even hope for, the next tropical depression to get organized and blow in. They can't bear the calm before the storm.
There's a lot of change among kids. One day they are sunny and cloudless, the next gloomy and humid. The baseball coach sat a kid down for a game to cure a batting slump, provoking a low-pressure system. The boyfriend rocked some teenager's world by holding hands with another high-pressure system. Hurricane weather.
And, like low-pressure systems, kids have a tendency to get together and enlarge their sphere of noisy, messy influence. Two or three together overnight in a normal house can trash the place without a smidgen of malicious intent among them.
And they're expensive, from beginning till, well, forever. Weather and kids cost money, big money, and even when the bad weather happens mostly in someone else's family, part of the bill ends up in your mailbox - if your mailbox has survived the most recent Saturday night teenage typhoon that swept up Middle Road.
Efforts to modify the behavior of colliding men and women who are destined to become parents have been historically and monumentally unsuccessful. The chaos theory that appears to govern El Nino, La Nina, global warming, the Atlantic's oceanic conveyor belt, the meanderings of the Gulf Stream, maybe global warming, certainly its most hysterical adherents, etc., has a perfect parallel in parenting. Nothing scientists or newspaper columnists have suggested to curb this blind eagerness that drives human systems to get together has had much effect. You can't seed the clouds for a quiet girl or whistle up a stiff breeze of a boy.
From time to time, everybody has a gripe about the weather, and about the kids. But when the weather's nice, the kids are home for dinner and they remember to use their napkins, we forget.
I remember rainy, overcast summers. That is, I know there have been such, but I've forgotten the details. So many sunny, dry, and windy summers, like this one, have intervened. Plus, whether it's too hot or too wet, if it's not exactly beach weather, it is certainly perfect whining weather, which kids appreciate.
Faced with a grumpy household of beloved kith and kin, an admirable and thoughtful man I knew often said, when the weather turned foul just before a planned hike or a sail or a picnic, "This is the day God has made." And, off he went, never regretting the decision, always refreshed and rewarded, in the ultimate sense, for the effort. If you can get their stalled systems to move, it's the same with kids.