Terms and Conditions

A quick note: I must apologize for the lateness of this post. I had been down with the flu for the past two days and now that I am no longer “Clinically Dead”, per se, I am back and posting as normal.

Thanks for your patience & Now to the post.


“Dad! This is all your fault!”

The reason I am not panicking over the above phrase is because if you have been a parent for any length of time, especially parents of teenagers, you realize that even taking the blame for just waking up will automatically cause you to be responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the entire universe since the beginning of time.

Notice I said I wasn’t panicking, but I was extremely intrigued. For you see the above sentence of blame didn’t come from one of my kids when they were teenagers; Oh no, it came from my grown up daughter Munchkin.

“What is the malfunction in your DNA which somehow got into my kid that is making her not only act like she does, but now she wants the two of us to go a concert where a punk/goth group called “Autopsy” is conveniently playing at the convention center” she said as she took the chair across from my desk in my Man Cave/Office.

“Just want makes you think it’s my so-called malfunctioned DNA that is got into your kid that is making her do this? Did you stop to think for one second that it maybe was something in your mother’s DNA that caused this situation?”

My daughter just leaned back into her chair, crossed her legs, and folded her arms across the chest. It was as if her body language was telling me in a voice dripping with sarcasm “Did you really just say that?”

And then it was at this instant in the timescale of the cosmos that I get a text message from Mrs. Nickels who is still at work which says “Really, Mr. Nickels? My DNA? Remember what we found when we researched your family tree on Ancestry.com? Need I say more?” (I swear that woman has this house bugged and is not only listening, but also watching everything I do here at home when she is gone).

“Ok,” I said as I re-read the text message and looking at my daughter. “Let’s assume that it’s my DNA that is causing you problems with your daughter. What’s your point?”

“My point is,” says my daughter who has now stood up and is pacing in front of my desk in exasperation “That Pebbles wants to see this band and I really don’t want to go.”

“Then don’t let her go. Sounds simple enough to me”

“You don’t understand Dad”

“What’s there to not understand?” I asked really perplexed. “You tell her she can’t go and that’s it.”

“Because she’s pulling a you, Dad.”

“Pulling a me? I don’t understand” I said as I took a sip of hot coffee.

“She’s cashing in a coupon!” said a still pacing Munchkin.

At which time I almost shot the coffee I was drinking out of my nose in laughter.

I feel like an explanation is in order. There are times in our family that when you are strapped for cash or really don’t know what to get someone for their birthday, maybe as a reward for doing something special, or for whatever reason, you make up some coupons and give them to the person in lieu of a present or reward.

Mrs. Nickels and I got into that habit when we first got married and money was tight. We liked the arrangement so much that we continued giving each other handmade coupon booklets in addition to other gifts we may want to give each other. The kids picked up on the idea and started the same thing with their siblings and with us as well. We would give each other coupons that said things like:

“Good for one free car wash”

“Good for one free night of TV Remote Ownership”

“Good for one free night of relaxation.” (The giver watches and cooks for the kids while the recipient relaxes upstairs, soaking in the bathtub, enjoying a beverage, listening to soft and soothing music all while not being bothered by the aforementioned crumb crunchers.)

“Good for one Taco, Bacon, and Meat Overdose” (Guess who got that one?)

“Good for one day of bedroom cleaning” (Usually given among siblings)

“Good for one dead body removal” (Again, given among siblings…and actually redeemed)

You are getting the idea here.

But the caveat was this: Once you gave the coupon, you had to honor it.

There was no reneging, there was no “can I rain check this?” there was no backing out. Once given, it had to be honored when presented for redemption. Now, if there was a physical reason why they couldn’t fulfill the obligation right then and there (sickness, death, etc.) that was permissible, but the coupon would still be good until next time.

Munchkin knew this and now she was in a no-win situation.

“And this is my fault…how?” I asked.

“Because she’s your granddaughter. That’s why!”

“Ok, she’s my granddaughter, I admit that. So what’s the problem?”

“Because she acts just like you! She knows that I can’t renege on this. I have to follow, as you are so fondly telling us, ‘The Terms and Conditions of The Coupon Program’. She’s read the fine print, like you do in everything you read and sign, and is now holding me to this with an iron grip. I hate this band! She blares their music 24/7 at home and now she wants me to go to the concert with her. And if that isn’t bad enough, she wants me to dress like a punk/goth person…just like her! When I tried to get her to change her mind about a different venue for our Mom and Daughter Night, all she kept saying was ‘Terms and Conditions Mom, Terms and Conditions’. Dad. Please! Help me!”

Earlier I mentioned that as the parent of a teenager that you took the blame, it seems, for everything your kid thinks is wrong with life. And as your kid is haranguing you for all the evils that have befallen their lives, you silently pray that one day, you can get even. When they will have a teenager that will put them through the same sort of aggravation my own kids put me through when they were that age.

Well, my friends, today, God finally answered my prayers. This was the day I had been hoping and praying about for years and today is the day. Revenge!

But instead of rubbing her face in her predicament, I just leaned back in my chair and with a satisfied look on my face all I said was “Terms and Conditions Munchkin, Terms and Conditions.”

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