Yesterday I drove the kids down to my mother’s house for the day, better known as the International House of Treats. I needed to finish work on a design project, and my mother needed to bestow her weekly set of presents on the Grandkid and Granddog which meant that her local Walmart had recently been emptied of all pink pajamas and packaged sausages.

In addition to watching the baby while I grunted through some terrible HTML templates, my mother spent her day sneaking the dog large chunks of colby jack cheese under the counter. I don’t mind her giving the dog treats, and cheese happens to be his favorite, but my family doesn’t do anything in small quantities. We’re big people with big appetites and big hands and big feet and we buy everything in bulk, and by the end of the day my mother had given the dog enough cheese to constipate an entire herd of bison. The truck now permanently smells of dog cheese farts.

During the first few weeks of having a new baby I really enjoyed spending entire days away from the house because it gave me a break in a frustrating routine consisting only of feeding, catnapping, and pooping (the baby, not me!). Now that I have the baby on more of a predictable schedule it’s hard to spend the day away from the smells and textures and noise levels she has become accustomed to, especially when spending the day away involves my relatives, The Loudest People On Earth.

My mother assures me that men don’t come equipped with the quiet gene which explains why my step-father answers the telephone as if he is trying to communicate from his living room with a deaf person locked in a fallout shelter in Nova Scotia. I don’t think that deaf person can hear you, maybe if you SCREAMED A LITTLE LOUDER THE WINDOWS WOULD EXPLODE AND THERE WOULD BE ONE LESS BARRIER. It doesn’t explain why my mother talks the exact same way on the phone, as if she doesn’t trust technology and can’t fathom that someone 500 miles away can hear her unless she is S.H.R.I.E.K.I.N.G.

And then there is Granny, my 80 year old grandmother who cannot hear anything and so does everything so forcibly that even if she can’t hear she can at least feel the vibrations. You’ve never heard someone open a door so loudly, a door with no noticeable creaking or with any other excuse to be loud. She can make that door loud, just like she can clomp around the house in slippers causing the foundation of the house to tremble. HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY CLOMP IN HOUSE SLIPPERS? And NO, you can’t go wake up “that baby” to squeeze her face, you insane slipper clomping door opener!

By the time we headed home last night I was a crunched up ball of nerves, having dodged catastrophe after catastrophe with the loud phone talkers. Leta somehow managed to sleep through four openings and closings of the garage door from hell, a conference call involving my mother and the speaker phone, and my step-father’s encounter with a package of deli meat that would not open. I have never been so mad at a slice of turkey in my life.