My monkey-in-law

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When I write about my life, people actually ask, with a straight face, if I make things up. When you learn about my people – my family – you soon realize that embellishment is rarely necessary.
My mother-in-law, for example, lives with a monkey. It sounds crazy, I know, but once you know her, it makes perfect sense. That probably came out all wrong, but really, I mean it with love. She’s just the kind of fun-loving person that SHOULD own a monkey.
Dream. My mother-in-law is a wonderful person. She raised a lovely son who I was proud to snap up and call my own. She has also done me a great disservice in being so warm and well-adjusted and wonderful and wholly nonmeddling that she’s quite cheated me out of ever taking part in any good mother-in-law jokes.
She has always, since she was a little tiny girl, wanted a monkey after seeing one in a pet shop years ago. Apparently, monkeys used to be somewhat of a pet shop staple back in the day.
Alas, in place of her own personal pet monkey, she settled for raising four children. This was probably almost exactly LIKE raising monkeys, but still did nothing to assuage her desire.
So, she saved her pennies and did her research (it’s harder than you think to buy a monkey legally, by the way) and was eventually able to purchase the monkey of her dreams. This required a special veterinarian and a trip to the southern states.
She has also devoted an entire room-sized space in her home to the endeavor. The monkey wears little diapers and is just cute as a button.
Her name is Penelope, and she is my monkey-in-law. She is a capucin. Those are the really cute little ones often shown as organ grinder monkeys in old movies featuring adorable child stars who dance their way out of orphanhood.
Penelope is NOT a spider monkey because we are monkey-snobs and those are just weird. Penelope is a doll. She’s very playful and has a definite personality. She likes my husband (which just proves that those monkeys are SMART!) but not bananas (an ugly stereotype, this banana thing).
She doesn’t bite, but does love to jump on heads. I have photos of her perched happily on our daughter’s head at Christmas. Yes, a monkey on her head. We are that kind of family.
So of course you would imagine my children are thrilled anew each day with the blessing that it is to have an actual real, live monkey in the family, wouldn’t you?
Well actually, like spoiled American children the world over, they have come to expect a monkey and, in fact, will probably have to be reminded that not EVERYONE has their own monkey to play with. I was that way about the ponies I had throughout childhood. I couldn’t have cared less.
So now you know my children hail from a long line of ingratitude. The truth is that family is what you make it and if you are blessed with a great cast of characters, rejoice. As we enter into the holiday season, you will probably have an opportunity to spend some time with these “characters” you call family up close and personal.
Remember that in the midst of the driving and the preparing and the shopping and the wrapping and myriad of things that wile away the busy holidays, you also want to enjoy your family and embrace your good fortune. I’m not a monkey’s uncle, but I am a monkey’s sister-in-law. I know of what I speak.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt wishes every family could have a monkey. She welcomes comment c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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