As a youngster my sister refused to wear anything but dresses. With her sun-bleached blonde hair and humongous brown eyes, she was what everyone might have imagined to be a sweet little girl, always running around and laughing in a paisley dress of some sort. For my parents, though, Katie was something of a "hell on wheels" - especially for my dad. Katie's devilish antics were the cause of many a headache, but I don't believe anyone's head pounded harder than my dad's on her account.
My first memories of witnessing my sister aggravating my father come from the winter of 1996. Dad had been cleaning snow off our roof when the ladder slipped, causing him to fall onto our back deck, shattering his heel. Mom called 911. I ran around the house in a fit of fear. Only five, I feared that the ambulance would take me away, too. While Dad lay on the back deck in pain, probably more pain than he had ever felt in his life, Katie, who was only two at the time, crawled onto the deck to sit beside him. Giggling, she ate snow off of his chest until the ambulance carried him off on a stretcher.
Getting Katie ready to go out the door was never easy. As an infant, she usually refused to wear any clothing and often ran around the house in the nude. As she grew older and began wearing clothes, Dad helped with her socks and shoes. After her shoelaces had been tied, Katie would start bawling. "What's wrong?" Dad would ask. As if the world were ending, Katie would shout, "IT DOESN'T FEEL RIGHT!!!!" as she ripped off the shoes and socks Dad had just helped her to put on. He would patiently try again. This ritual would sometimes repeat itself until Katie literally had to be carried barefoot out the door. Some of her antics happened in public. Until both my sister and I reached double digits, our parents often took us to Burger King. On one such trip, Mom took me to the restroom, leaving Katie with Dad as he sat talking to some work friends who had stopped by the table. At some point, while Mom and I were in the restroom, Katie had slunk out of her booster seat, on a mission to discover where her mother and sister had gone.
When Mom and I returned to our table, Katie was missing. Dad told us he had thought she had gone to the restroom with us.
Thus began a frantic search throughout Burger King. After a very long and drawn out five minutes without finding my sister, my parents began to worry that she had somehow escaped to the parking lot. This would not have been a far-fetched assumption. Mom had always described her as a child who you could not take your eye off of for one second.
In all the excitement, my Dad had to use the men's room. Meanwhile, Mom and I questioned everyone in the restaurant, asking whether they had seen Katie either walk outside or hide under a table.
Dad re-emerged from the bathroom with Katie in front of him. He had found her crying in the men's bathroom stall. Having not found Mom, she considered it a defeat that she had gotten lost.
Now that we are older, I am 17 and Katie 14, we laugh about all the different "Katie Moments" which at some point in the past have made my father cringe in aggravation, irritation and sometimes even pain. Although some of them - the Burger King incident, and another time when Katie was almost sucked into the ocean - were downright scary, we have to laugh when looking back on them.
Dad and Katie still feud often. Many mornings, Dad has gone to work fuming because Katie has refused to get up and get dressed on time, causing Dad to be anywhere from five to 15 minutes late. She has calmed down somewhat since her childhood years, but I am certain she will always find a way to lovingly aggravate my father as long as he lives. Their bond is a rare one, though. They couldn't be closer.
Marla Kauffman is an IVHS student reporter and columnist.