I am rethinking this whole “let your kids get bored and they’ll be more creative” thing, and wondering if maybe it’s a good thing for parents to control their every move.
Or maybe your summers are always the blissful spot of serenity we hope our kids will have between school getting out and starting up again. Come with me to a typical summer incident at the Hilton house. (Incidentally, I put a scaled down version of this event in my book, FUNERAL POTATOES—THE NOVEL, because even a fiction book has to be believable. ) But this is the straight scoop:While we are trying to assemble it, our son Brandon and friends are in the family room, on the computer. In a couple of weeks he’ll be leaving for college in San Diego, and his buddies will all be going away to school as well. Soon he asks if we have any dog crates. It’s noisy, I’m busy with guests, and I tell him no, without realizing that this question is a CLUE. Next he announces that he and his buddies are going to pick up three large geese from a guy on Craig’s List, who is giving them away for free. “Free” is another CLUE I miss. Brandon wants to know if he can bring them home.
Nicole, 8, literally leaps into the air, and I confess that I am excited at the thought of darling geese in our back yard. An immediate VERY LOUD debate ensues, during which Bob votes absolutely, positively no, and the rest of us vote yes. Brandon leaves with Bob shaking his head and the rest of us grinning. We set up the cow; it works.
Soon Brandon returns with three huge cardboard boxes, all of which are honking. Loudly. I have missed yet another CLUE. They are released into our back yard, which thankfully is fenced, and an immediate commotion begins. We have the wagging cow, water spraying every which way, two barking dogs running through the sprinklers, a houseful of company, plus Brandon and his cohorts and three SCREAMING geese. We have four neighbors who live very close by and can see into our yard if they wish.
A helicopter flies overhead and our son, Richie, pretends to be speaking into a microphone. “This is the Homeowners’ Association Police—You with the geese, put your hands up.”
Nicole decides to name them Uncle Waldo, Amelia and Abigail, after the Aristocats movie. The geese, not the police. Nicole and I discuss possible costumes and bows, and try to hug the geese. They run away, but then change their minds and decide to ATTACK.
Let me just say that Alfred Hitchcock only scratched the surface of what birds can do.
In fact, this could be the catalyst for the game, Angry Birds.
Brandon explains that you have to chase the geese and take a swing at them with something, to keep them from getting aggressive and turning on you. This explains the “free” part. He and his friends go looking for golf clubs.
We decide maybe they’re hungry, so we tear up some tortillas and scatter them on the lawn. We follow up with Corn Pops, wheat bread, and corn meal.
No takers. It’s 10:00 pm now, and we decide to get some rest, hoping the geese will also settle down. Brandon tells us they cannot fly (dang!) so we’re planning to tell any complaining neighbors that they’re leaving first thing in the morning.
Friday morning I peer out onto the patio and it looks like we’ve been strafed by white shoe polish. Everywhere. There is more goose poop than you have ever seen in your entire life, all combined together on our patio. Drying in the sun. It is physiologically impossible for three geese to create this much poop. Even three ostriches couldn’t do it.
Now the mayhem starts all over again as the dogs begin barking anew, delighted that our guests have stayed overnight. Geese are running all over the yard, attacking the cow sprinkler and honking as if their lives are in danger, which they are. Bob, who has already left for work, calls and suggests I clean it all up. After all, he was against this from the get go, the mid go, the end go and the ego. I hang up on him. Brandon is still asleep in his cozy bed, unaware of the complete disaster this has become.
Three ant colonies have discovered the uneaten corn pops, and the dogs are eating torn-up tortillas as fast as they can. I drag Brandon out of bed to gather his buddies again for a massive cleanup, then a delivery to a local park with a lake in it, which shall remain nameless.
Two dogs are throwing up tortillas and goose feathers, and I think to myself, How am I going to survive 13 and a half days until school starts and Brandon moves to San Diego?
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