A. Huh? What? We didn't see any light bulb. Nobody told us we had to change the light bulb. How come we have to change the light bulb? Why can't someone else change the light bulb? We changed the light bulb last time. We'll change the light bulb later. What difference does it make? There is nothing to eat in this house anyway.
They said it couldn't be done. At least I think that's what they said. Perhaps it was shouldn't be done.
But I am not
smart enough the type to shirk from a challenge just because of the potential for breakage, foot odor and high-volume mayhem. Send them, I said. Send them all.
And so I find myself with a collection of children whose care and maintenance ordinarily requires the diligent and collected effort of three families, three washing machines running continuously and a generous supply of high-fructose corn syrup and deodorant products.
I won't lie to you. It does not smell good in here.
From a complete lack of charm to tastelessness in music, hygiene and table manners, a single 14-year-old boy can be virtually intolerable in close proximity. Multiply that by three and throw in two little sisters, and you would not be out of line for invoking a literary disaster metaphor.
Not Lord of the Flies, surely. They don't have the skills. There's no app for that. But The Perfect Storm? It struck the kitchen sometime during the night. I left them alone for a few hours with a stack of movies and $36 worth of take-out pizza. I came home to a crime scene.
But it was nothing that a haz-mat team and a few hours of elbow grease couldn't repair.
On the plus side, here was one of those "teachable moments" parents are always advised to seize. Today we will review prepositional phrases. The garbage bag is under the sink. Half-eaten pizza slices and greasy paper plates lie beside, behind and around the garbage bag. Pizza sauce is smeared inside the cabinet door. A better way to dispose of $25 worth of takeout pizza is to try to locate the opening on top of the bag.
Tomorrow I will commit to a single, unifying, literary disaster metaphor. I am considering Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer's account of a brutal, exhausting and ultimately disastrous Mt. Everest expedition in which every step was an exercise in endurance and oxygen rationing. It feels right.
Then I am going to attempt to drive them out of the house by initiating conversation with them. I will announce plans to make the living room a haven for their intellectual development. I will introduce them to Keynesian economic theory and the pluperfect indicative tense. I was exhausted this morning because my
oxygen patience had run out.
I will make sure they have a ready means of transportation away from the house, ensuring that bicycles, skateboards, rappelling equipment and other modes of teenage transport are in working order.
Then I will lock the doors and tackle the Everest size pile of laundry they have left behind.
Photo: Base camp Boy.