I adore teenage boys and girls–specifically the two I have brought into this world and share genetic coding with. But when these teenagers invite their friends to spend the night, my intense parental delight morphs into intense parental fright.
I cannot count how many times I have had a gaggle of girls at my house for a weekend and the leftover results have been the usual scattered sleeping bags, towels and the heady, pervasive smell of nail polish after they’ve all gone home.
This last weekend, I have had a barrage of boys file through the house, and although I’m fairly sure there were only five or six teenagers in total, the result of their visit has been the depletion of all of my towels, all of my dishes, the food, bed linens, blankets, pillows, ice cubes, Q-tips (don’t ask), Band-Aids, cough drops, room spray, batteries, matches, gasoline, chlorine, anything chemically created that is often labeled with a skull and crossbones, all of the electricity our family was allotted to use for the month, and acetaminophen. The last entry was entirely depleted by me in trying to manage the depletion of everything else.
After they vacated, the house was also left with a heady, pervasive smell … of dirty socks.
It’s been a wholly different experience.
I rarely had to worry about the girls doing anything stupid or dangerous. I just had to make sure they would all leave as friends.
EVERYTHING the guys do is stupid and dangerous, and I just had to make sure they would all leave.
Leaving alive was also a primary concern.
Girls spend a lot of time in bathrooms and bedrooms prettying themselves up—and helping one another do it—all in the name of self-confidence boosting.
Guys spend a lot of time—no matter what room of my house they’re in—tearing one another to shreds, all in the name of self-confidence bashing.
At least the girls have the snarky decency to bash one another behind their backs after they’ve all left.
Okay, that last statement might not be entirely true, because girls can whirl a barbed compliment and land it expertly in between the shoulder blades of any of their friends. And they can do it with the precision of a skilled marksman better than most hired guns trained in the fine art of assassination. It’s perspective.
Ultimately, I might as well forget about getting any work done.
With the girls, it was usually,” Come up and see how we’ve henna-ed one another with these flowery designs and geometric shapes. Except your daughter, who chose only to ink herself with math equations.”
That would usually lead to a lot of girl talk and then baking of cookies.
With the fellas, the distractions were more like:
Where do you keep the superglue?
Can we have more towels? And maybe a few shovels?
How fast can an ambulance make it here?
No one ever asked me to come up and see ANYTHING.
It’s better for all of us that way.
But it remains true that work is a luxury and realized in an odd grouping of ten seconds snatched here or there.
Apart from the face-to-face interruptions, which are plentiful, there is the cacophony of noises that draw my attention away from my words. Laughter is fine, giggling is good, thumping is nerve-wracking, but silence …
That is the scariest sound of all.
There are moments when I think the ceiling above me is barely holding the wannabe frat party from collapsing. I’m fairly certain that the vibration from the bass notes alone coming from the film score to the “Animal House Lite” reenactment upstairs can do some serious structural damage. If nothing else, the paint is peeling from the walls, but then again, there’s no need to dust the ceiling light fixtures this month. Again, perspective.
But when there is no sound, when there is the absence of sound—especially right after a very large and earth shattering one—I hold my breath and count to ten. I mentally go through the list of first aid treatments I can capably do and calculate the distance to the nearest emergency room.
Then I think about drafting an apology letter to the parents of each boy and wonder what is the most tactful way of saying, “I did my best and realize now I should have hired an onsite paramedic and triage station for the living room. Whoops. My bad.”
In the end—at least for this particular episode—everyone made it out with injuries that are, according to the surgeon, non-life threatening, and supposedly will heal in such a way that will allow them to pursue the eventual dream of finding a wife and having a child.
That’s all one could ask for, right?
So I’m off to the shops to replenish my supplies—and then stopping off at the printer’s to whip up a little something for the next shindig to spontaneously combust at my house …A waiver.
Illustration courtesy of Robin Gott. Post and illustration previously published on Peak Perspective.
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