You know you grew up in a big Catholic family if:

  • You still resent the sister who had her own room.
  • You became accustomed to finding your toothbrush wet in the morning.
  • You were always under suspicion at school because of what your older brother did.
  • You hoped your mother got your name right on the fourth try.
  • You bought cigarettes before you were 6, with a note from your dad. 
  • You had to wear hand-me-downs that only your mom thought were in style.
  • You made multiple visits to the emergency room.
  • Your parents lost you more than once in a public place.
  • Your big Christmas present was a toaster oven.
  • You served time as a human remote control. 
  • You sat for hours at the dinner table rather than finish your peas.
  • Your older brother tricked you into playing “52 Card Pick-up.” 
  • You were essentially raised by your big sister. 
  • You were scared every time your dad got home. 
  • No one taught you how to tie your shoes. 
  • You never had your own bike. 
  • There wasn’t enough room for you on the couch. 
  • Sharing baths was common and bathwater could always be recycled. 
  • Your dad wasn’t sure what grade you were in. 
  • Your parents didn’t come with you on Halloween — or when you had to go to the dentist.
  • You still cherish that family vacation, when only three kids went to Michigan.
  • You never knew who was going to barge in on you in the bathroom.
  • You were grocery shopping for the family when you could barely see over the cart.
  • You found certain relatives very scary but were forced to visit them anyway.
  • You could never find a restaurant that could seat the whole family.
  • You wished you had your friend’s cool parents.
  • You got your mother’s full attention that one time. 
  • You can’t remember your siblings’ birthdays — to this day. 
  • Your middle name was either Mary or Joseph. 
  • You lost every fight with your big brother.
  • You learned to speak very rapidly at the dinner table.
  • You said the family rosary together when times were tough.
  • You weren’t embarrassed as a little boy to buy female hygiene products when necessary
  • You had to use hand-me-down textbooks that might be missing a few pages.
  • You learned to disappear after dinner to avoid washing the dishes.
  • You never got tired of peanut butter and jelly. 
  • You thought it was normal to wear your coat in the house on winter mornings.
  • You spent Saturdays vacuuming under and behind the furniture. 
  • You dreaded your parents coming home from parent-teacher conferences. 
  • You could mix cocktails at a very young age. 
  • You had identical twins you couldn’t tell apart.
  • You enjoyed the intimidated look of boyfriends facing the whole clan.
  • You got used to zipping and unzipping dresses for various females in the family.
  • Most of your pictures growing up show you in the same outfit. 
  • You got to sit on the mechanical horse but no one put a coin in.
  • You alternated between tuna fish casserole and fish sticks on Fridays. 
  • You were told more than once that you were adopted. 
  • You had patches on the knees of your uniform pants.
  • You worked funerals and weddings as an altar boy for extra cash.
  • You thought of your friends as your real siblings.
  • Your mother cleaned your face with saliva.
  • You were disappointed by empty boxes of cookies on the shelf and empty juice containers in the fridge. 
  • You learned how to use a paint roller in first grade.
  • You thought it would be cool to dig a hole to China in the backyard — until your dad got home.
  • You had your Halloween candy confiscated and rationed. 
  • You thought the Polish kid in your school was from another planet.
  • You have kids who wonder how you survived childhood. 

 John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball...