My boys seem to regard the roof of the minivan as the extra bedroom we just don’t have. I often walk out to find Efram perched atop the the roof rack reading a book, and Bennett has been found sitting up there with a plate of cut fruit, complete with toothpicks (he is nothing if not a stickler for presentation, and for his birthday he will be getting these frilly toothpicks).
I always make it clear that roofs are not for sitting. I don’t say it quite so nicely. “GET OFF THE BLOODY ROOF!” is more like it. But still, the point is made.
On Sunday I took the boys out to spend their allowances, and spotted them some extra cash in exchange for a promise that they’d come home and wash the car. When we got home I directed them to the vacuum and cleaning products and then disappeared into the house. I was upstairs when Bennett came in hysterical because he’d slid off the roof of the car and bashed the crap out of his legs. He did look pretty bad, sort of like Sammy the Shark had taken a metal baseball bat to his kneecaps (which one day may be his fate if he continues on his current criminal path). But I showed no sympathy.
“What were you doing on the roof of the car?” I ask.
“What does it matter?” he cries. “Can’t you be sympathetic?”
“Nice word, but nothing doing, buddy.” I reply. But I can’t stay mad forever. I throw him a bag of frozen blueberries and head outside to check on the car. (Mother Theresa has nothing on me.)
The car is a mess. All four kids (baby was napping and therefore exempt) seem to have spent an hour fighting about who got to hold the hose and nobody touched the inside, which was the only bit I cared about. There are those ridiculous little snack bags stuffed in every corner (what is your purpose in life oh-little-snack-bag except to piss me off when I cannot close you because I’ve jammed in too many pretzels?), lollipop sticks are still stuck to the floor, and whatever was growing underneath Efram’s seat is still alive and kicking.
“What in God’s name have you all been doing?” I ask. Not surprisingly, nobody owns up. They all throw each other under the bus (or minivan) and then drop whatever they are holding and head inside. So I vacuum the car, swearing the entire time and carry inside the nine hundred wet rags they’ve used cleaning a car that will most likely be rained on within the hour.
My mission to turn these kids into unspoiled, hard-working farm hands is not going as well as I’d hoped. But as soon as I have a free minute, I am going to research booby trapping the roof. If anyone has suggestions, please send them my way….