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Tete-a-tete: ‘Family court’ has a whole new meaning at our house

Deciding what you want to be when you grow up is a fun and imaginative exercise when you’re a small child, but it’s slightly more stressful when you’re a high school senior filling out college applications and realizing that, with perhaps the exception of theater, you can’t major in being a fairy princess.

Sometimes you might have an interest or a skill that corresponds to an obvious course of study and career path, making for an easier decision. An affinity for building things with LEGOs, for example, could translate to a career in mechanical engineering.

Other times, the clues are more subtle and have more to do with personality traits than personal interests. Such has been the case with 17-year-old Younger Sister, who has spent the past few months applying to colleges and wrestling with these all-important questions.

Being the loving and supportive family we are, we’ve done our best to help by offering suggestions and guidance, which has involved some serious reflection on her character and what makes her tick.

Younger Sister is a very straightforward young lady who is not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in. She is articulate, logical and adept at defending others who are afraid to speak up or simply do not know what to say.

When coming to a decision on a contentious matter, Younger Sister speaks with confidence and decisiveness, giving the impression that her conclusion is not only the obvious one but the only correct one.

Mom and Dad, veterans of numerous discussions and debates with Younger Sister, have come to the conclusion that she would make an excellent lawyer.

I concur, having recently been the defendant in what Dad considers Younger Sister’s first court case: Older Sister Who Parked Her Car in My Spot.

One day, I happened to arrive home before Younger Sister. She usually parks close to the house, while my typical parking spot is on a part of the driveway overhung by trees. Having recently divested my car of an accumulation of pine needles, acorns, leaves and other natural debris, I thought I would give my car (and myself) a break by parking close to the house, in the spot where Younger Sister normally parks.

Younger Sister arrived home later that evening, after the sun had set. Upon entering the house, the first words out of her mouth were that I should not have parked in her spot and that I needed to move my car immediately. Because she had to park where I normally do, she had had to walk about ten feet in the dark before she was close enough to the house for the sensors to pick up her presence and the outside lights turned on.

This, she informed me, was unacceptable, as she was away from the house for much longer periods of time than I was, often leaving and returning when it was dark outside. Since I drive less frequently than she does and mostly during daylight hours, I should therefore be the one to park further from the house.

As previously mentioned, it is unwise to debate Younger Sister unless you are prepared to bring your A game. I did my best, reminding her that “her spot” had been occupied by numerous other family members over the years before she got her license and that she did not have a monopoly on it. Objection overruled.

I then attempted to argue that, since she does drive more frequently, her car would end up with less of an accumulation and it would thus make more sense for her to park under the trees. Objection overruled.

As a last resort, I pointed out that when I get home after sunset, I have to walk that same distance in the dark, which makes that aspect of the parking issue equally problematic for me. Younger Sister’s rebuttal was that there’s a difference between me walking that distance once in a while and her walking it every morning and every night.

Verdict: Further deviation from the established parking arrangement will not be tolerated. Any exceptions are to be submitted for approval ahead of time and will be accepted or rejected based on their legitimacy.

On second thought, perhaps Younger Sister should skip being a lawyer and go straight to being a judge.

Though my points were all valid and reasonable, Younger Sister’s were more so, and they were delivered with her characteristic confidence. I was right, but she was more right. And she has since generously permitted me to park in “her spot” on occasions when I have had a legitimate need to do so, such as after running errands and needing to bring a number of bags into the house.

Younger Sister has not made a concrete decision as to whether she’ll be going into law and is still keeping her options open in terms of future professions. Regardless, it’s obvious that advocacy and debate are among her strengths.

I just hope that wherever she goes to school has assigned parking spaces so she can focus on honing her skills inside the classroom rather than outside.

– Teresa Santoski

Originally published Dec. 1, 2016


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