Oh, Brother: A Chaperone Saga
Long Holiday weekends are fraught with tension and requests from children. I don’t know whether they are more afraid to be alone with their parents or if they are scared to death they will have to do house work. That could be a toss-up. None the less, this past Monday many children were out of school for Veteran’s Day.
When we have the ubiquitous Monday holiday, moms and dads everywhere are inundated with, “Can so and so come over? We don’t have school on Monday.” It begins promptly one second after the last bell rings on Friday. Sometimes they start hollering about friends coming over before they even get to the car. I turn up my music and pretend that I don’t hear them, but eventually they get so loud that I have to address the question.
Friday is not too bad as parents can stall with, “Sure, after your room is clean,” and add some raised eyebrows. Another good one is, “Oh, Honey, we have the football game tonight. Shucks, dang and dagnabbit.” Both of those work well for Friday afternoon, especially if the parent uses the same syrupy voice that said child is using to beg. If we are wily enough, we will gain a few hours of peace while we formulate defenses for the rest of the weekend. Saturday morning tactics can include, “Did you clean your bathroom as well?” or “Hey, why don’t you spend the morning with your new PlayStation games?” Not bad for an old mom, heh, heh, heh.
By Saturday night, they have turned into International Missionaries worthy of the Nobel Prize for Humanity. They want to invite the entire neighborhood to come to church with them the next morning. We stall and make it to church with no extras. After the sermon, they ambush us with forlorn faces and pleadings. They wear on us like a drip. Parental defenses are thinning. Finally, we roll our eyes and bark, “OK. Two hours. Make sure the parents can meet us at Youth Group at 4:00.” We sound pretty tough but we know that by the time we get home, change clothes, and eat it will be nearly time to turn around and go back to the church. So, Sunday afternoons are fairly well managed.
Sunday nights, the real pressures begin. “But, mooooommmmm, we DON’T have SCHOOL tomorrow! Please, please, please, please let someone come over.” We are on our last nerve and snap, “OK. Invite whoever you want, but they better not make a sound in this house and I prefer if you could spend all day Monday on the mountain hiking somewhere.”
Not to be daunted, they hop and clap and tell us we are the most perfect mother in the galaxy while simultaneously texting friends. I cross my arms and try to glare but their joy is contagious. I even offer to make homemade pizza.
What. Is. Happening. To. Me? This last weekend, I even approved the teenage boyfriend.
All is well until Boyfriend shows up. The porch is full of young males playing animated football on the PlayStation. Screaming, whooping, hollering, and general male noises osmose through the house.
Daughter has hidden her beautiful young self in bathroom to curl her hair. Unbeknownst to her, Boyfriend drives up and the other males see him. They holler into the kitchen – where I am dutifully rolling out pizza crust – “Boyfriend is here!”
I nod and keep cooking. He is assimilated into the crowd on the porch and given a controller. He scores right away. High Fives, backslapping, and the roar of general approval.
Several minutes later, teen daughter prances out of the bathroom. She whispers from the hallway, “Mom, is he here yet?”
I point to the back porch. She squints her eyes, finds him, and shrieks.
“Moooommmmm, they gave him a controller!”
I give her a sympathetic hug and silently bless those young porch chaperones and all of their friends.
Long Holidays can be so stressful.