I get asked all the time why I have a bazillion siblings. But let me clear it up for all of you out there…Yes, all twelve of us are from the same two parents. No, they aren’t sex maniacs that I know of. No, they aren’t Catholic, even though they did take us to church a lot. And as far as I know, baptists aren’t against birth control. I sometimes ask them why, and all I get is: We didn’t plan on having so many kids. That’s not the sort of thing you plan. To each his own, I guess. They are pretty okay parents, so I guess I’ll keep them. Sure, there were a poop ton of times that I wished to not have been born in such a ginormous family, but there are a lot of things we do that normal families usually wouldn’t. A whole set of Hood family traditions.
- Sushi at the movies
Instead of sneaking in candy at the movies, my parents would sneak in sushi. Sometimes organic raisins or vegetables. Dad’s whole losing a hundred pounds thing got him into the crazy, healthy stuff.
- Sexist coffee commercials on Sunday morning
Most Sunday mornings, my dad would play the Folger’s Coffee commercials from the 1960s. They were from a DVD pack of a gazillion commercials.
- Coffee Day
Or as my little brother, Timothy, likes to call it: Kaffee Tag. He’s only 13, but he’s really into learning German. But anywho…it is common knowledge that most parents wouldn’t usually make coffee in the morning for their kids as incentive for them to wake up and do their school, but Mom sure does! And sure thing, it works…One morning, I got up and saw one of the twins, Mary, drinking a huge cup of coffee…without creamer and all. To put this in perspective, she was probably seven or eight years old at the time. I raised my voice pretty freaking loud. “Mary! What are you doing?! You shouldn’t be drinking so much coffee! You are way too young for caffeine.” She stared at me with this glazed over look in her eyes, perplexed. “But it gets rid of my headaches!” She told me in her as a matter of fact voice. As if she was teaching me a little something. That was the last time I told her what to do…
- Nicknames and Odd Phrases
Each of us 12 have our own little nicknames. Some have a specific reason. For example, my sister Debbie is called Cakes because of the Little Debbie Cakes. And Sarah and Leah have been called Sara Lee Coffee Cake. Some are just plain random. The twins, Mary and Elizabeth, are called Miss-Mose and Bit. Timothy is Timbuktu and Tim-Butt. I could go through the long list, and I might later, but it’s a bit extensive. There are also nicknames for things around the house. The remote is called the Power Bar. Anyone holding the Power Bar has power over the television set, which is a huge deal. Another weird one is what we call the inside ankles. Don’t ask me why, but we call them Ankles-Bankles. We also have some odd phrases for every day things. When we take a shower, as an example, we say we are about to shake a tower. And when Dad would choke on a piece of food, he would yell “Esophagus!” so that we could get a drink of water for him. When someone wants salt and pepper at the dinner table (which we rarely ever use anymore) we sing, “Please pass the salt and pepper. Please pass the salt and pepper. Please pass the salt and pepper and get out of the way!” I could go through each and every personal song each and every one of us has, but that would take too long and I’m slightly lazy as of now.
- Evening strolls in the Mall of America
We used to live extremely close to the Mall of America, so we would walk laps around the building every week. We never would buy anything…we would just drag our entire posse around, eating free cheese samples and disturbing the peace.
This is a fairly new Hood tradition. I don’t know if you are familiar with this TV show, but this magician dude makes lame jokes and narrates old horror movies. This new tradition is not entirely my favorite.
- The forbidden
There are certain things that aren’t mentioned, talked about, and certainly not allowed. Those are balloons, gum, and peanut butter. This isn’t because my family is super stringent, or whatever. There are actually legitimate reasons. It all starts with my Dad’s allergies. He is deathly allergic to anything resembling a peanut. Any nuts, peanut oil, and especially peanut butter. So, of course, peanut butter is out of the question. We weren’t even supposed to have it on our breath or clothes, that’s how bad it was. The combination of my dad being deathly allergic to peanut butter and having eight daughters will long hair brings me to the next forbidden item: gum. Almost every time chewing gum was introduced to our house, it got stuck in some lucky girl’s hair. And we all know the only thing to get gum out of hair…peanut butter. It’s a never-ending cycle. And the balloon thing…Dad hated hearing us fight. And it always happens, for some reason or another. So, when someone gets a balloon you know what he does?….He pops it with a knife. Which isn’t very smart of him in the first place, because they just start crying more.
- Being read to and hearing made up fairy tales before bed
I do understand that those forbidden items seem a little cruel, but our parents made it up with the bedtime stories. Every night we would crawl into my dad’s lap and he would read us books like The Berenstain Bears, Calvin and Hobbes, and Amelia Bedilia. I guess that is where us Hood’s love of reading came from. And Mom would make up fairy tales that she would tell over and over. My personal favorite is the tale of Paharkahar, a smart owl who turns wise through forced humility and losing his teaching job. Pretty good stuff.
- Family meetings
Usually these occurred when my dad was in a mini freak out. This included telling us to clean up or the world was about to end or to get some hidden truth from us about where we hid the remote. But most of the time, it was when someone was acting up or went missing. That brings me to the next…
- Police and neighbors get sick of you
I swear to someone who’s probably rolling in their grave as we speak, my family has had someone missing at least once every year. Most of the time it’s at the State Fair, like when Dinah got lost in the horse arena. When this turns into a regular occurrence, however, it turns into The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Not only do kids poof out of the air like ghosts, but they also have had the tendency to call 9-1-1 when they got spurts of anger. Then it becomes a big thing and the police get tired of coming over. I won’t even mention the sibling rivalry fights that send the neighbors calling for the cops. I’m telling you…a couple little fights in a duplex where a bunch of rambunctious children live makes it sound like people are getting killed! I guess that explains why we filter through a bunch of neighbors that turn grumpy and bitter. Meh…things happen.
It gets on the edge of disturbing/probably just plain weird when your family is big enough to have little cliques forming. Let’s see….we have all the typical high school cliques hidden in our own precious clan.
1. We have the popular kids that take charge: Jim, Leah, and Sarah (Donkey Kong and the Flippidy-Dips)
2. The gangster kids…The Fat Street Boys, Dad calls them—David and Daniel.
3. The Mean Girls preppy clique..Me and Debbie.
4. The artist hipster who refuses to conform: Bekah
5. The nerd who is in his own little universe: Timothy a.k.a Staples (don’t ask why)
6. The misunderstood outcast: Dinah
7. And the cute, blonde cheerleaders: the twins, Mary and Elizabeth.
- Cheating the grocery store
My dad takes advantage of the fact that he has a ton of kids by saving money. For example, those little coupons that place a limit of how many of that food item you can buy on sale. We each walk in separately, buy as many ice cream quarts as we can, and leave, pretending that it never happened. And that is the story of how our freezer was crammed full of ice cream for over a week.
I am an expert moocher…ask anyone! This comes from practice. Mooching ranges from eating most of Mom’s grapefruit to knowing how to panhandle money and sneaking in a deal or two at the mall. I am the queen of buying cheap and free crapola. Especially when I do not need them.
Besides the whole being poor and having no space thing, I guess I am a bit proud to have a bunch of oddballs as a family. At least I have someone to blame for being the weirdo I am today 🙂