When people hear I have five kids, they usually act surprised. I don't know if it's because most families don't usually have five kids these days, or because I'm thin and so fantastically beautiful ;). "Good Lord!" I'll hear. "I only have TWO boys and you have FIVE?" I'll smile back and say, "Please. If you have two boys, then you have five. Trust me. It's the same job, just a little more often." To which people smile and look at me as thought I'm a total idiot.
So tonight I thought I'd let you in on a little in-family conversation. A little glimpse into what having five sons feels like. Looks like. Smells like. IS LIKE.
Here's the back story.
Joe and I just dropped our oldest son off at Clemson University yesterday. It was a long drive. An emotional goodbye. The start of a new chapter. We're drained. Period. Right? I know you get the picture. Our sixteen year old, Jack, will miss Michael, sure, so I guess it seems logical that he feels the need to adopt his older brother's Laissez-faire attitude towards rules. It's a philosophy that goes a little something like this. Yes, Mom and Dad, you have rules. But I don't necessarily agree with them. And I certainly don't always feel like adhering to them.
Right, Jacko. Let me know how that works out for you.
So... here is a text exchange Jack and I had tonight.
You needn't have five kids, or five boys, for that matter, to simply JUST. HAVE. ENOUGH. Our exchange goes like this.
As I sit here, doing you a favor by washing your sheets and giving you a clean place to sleep tonight, I’m struck by a few thoughts. 1. I will not pick up your shoes anymore. Shoes that are left out will be thrown out. 2. I will not clean up after you anymore. You do your dishes. You put away your toothbrush. You flush your toilet. You put away your clothes. YOU take care of YOUR stuff. Or I will throw it out. 3. Anything you leave on the floor of your room from now on will be donated to Goodwill. Want to change outfits 30 times? Terrific. Leave your crap all over the place…. kiss it goodbye. 4. You apparently haven’t heard me tell you that no phones are allowed upstairs. Do it again and you’ll lose yours for good. Think I’m kidding? Try me. 5. Your soccer bag goes in the closet. Not on the floor. Not on the bench. In the closet. 6. Your car needs to be washed. Wash it. Take care of it. Learn about it. Or lose it. Period. Now… let me see…. am I making myself clear? I’d better be. Because you’ll lose big time if you don’t start getting with the program, son. I WILL NOT BE YOUR HOUSEKEEPER. (Your response: I hear you loud and clear, Mom. I apologize for taking advantage of you, Mom. I will make the corrections you requested here immediately. Have a good night, Mom.) What say you, friend?"
Four minutes later.
"I hear you loud and clear, Mom. i apologize for taking advantage of you, mom. i will make the corrections you requested here immediately. have a good night, mom."
Hmmm. Sure sounds like a good result. But I'll keep you posted. Lord knows I'm not stupid enough to actually believe what my sons tell me. Though... a word to the wise. My neighborhood is having a yard sale the second week of September. I may have a lot of very nice clothing/electronics/personal effects to sell your teenage son in just one short month should mine not get with the program.
And that, friends, is what I consider... peace.