Every day is filled with me asking a variety of questions and hoping sometimes to be truly left in the dark. There are certain questions that I learned over time just are better if left unanswered. This is not true of the younger crowd. I very much want ALL those questions answered, quickly and truthfully.
I think when you find your 4-year old son in the bathroom with the door shut and it has been more than five minutes and when you call in to ask “what are you doing?” the answer back is “nothing…just finishing up”-Yep…NOT. Then you hear what you think is dripping water (but through the door you are not totally sure)…“is everything ok in there?” No sound. Knock loudly…small little voice answers “I am busy. I need my privacy” (!!) you think (with what?) ok. Finally you demand to know and the answer back is that the toilet was used for what is designed for and he is a “big boy” washing his hands all by himself…and will be downstairs in a minute. Whew! All is well.
Ok. Back downstairs to making supper. Suddenly it is raining in the kitchen (yes BIG drops of water beading on the ceiling and dripping down into the stove top dinner you have just finished making). Back upstairs. Uh -huh…washing his hands, yep (and the entire floor…almost an inch of water everywhere). “See I told you I was washing my hands…and all my cars and boats” (he just “forgot” to notice the sink overflowing in the meantime). Sad because I had been quite proud to be delivering supper for under $10 (total cost) that evening to the tribe I feed. If you add the cost to repair the bathroom floor, take apart the kitchen ceiling, tape & plaster, repaint etc…the cost is astronomical but it like the master card ad says…the experience gained….”priceless”.
As far as asking the older crowd questions… you would need to be a Philadelphia lawyer to get the question right. This age group likes to gain solidarity by volunteering some tidbits of information in the hopes that such perceived openness will secure them your approval. The conversation goes “mom do you mind if I go out on Friday night if I am home by midnight?” Sure, sounds reasonable as this kid works and is fairly responsible. So naturally I then ask who (?) is he going out with…his answer back “friends” (so far so good!). And now for the big one “Well… will there be drinking?” Answer back “nah…”- next question from the mom is to ascertain this boy has a ride there and back (Dad uses the car that night for work). “Yep! (I am very confident now in this transparent mother-to-teenage-son communication.)
Nice…now the bigger question…what about “girls”? “What about them mom?” Well “are there any girls going to be there?” Only to be told “I don’t know…. what is with the twenty questions…I’m only going out for a couple of hours.” One second though… he is right… what was I thinking? He is older…hard to remember not to ask too many questions. “Have a good time!”
So Friday comes around and I spend “the evening out” cleaning in the basement only to discover somebody’s stash of Captain Morgan’s rum. Nice. Now what? Do I admit what I know? Do I confiscate (on the basis that even though this child is of age he does live with younger siblings)? Perhaps I say nothing and just enjoy an extra Diet Coke or two with a little help from the Captain? (Sure beats trying to convince my doctor that I should have a lifelong prescription for Valium!!)
No, what I need to do is determine a foolproof questioning method that would put the FBI to shame. Then develop a special profile based on each child’s personality and question the troops accordingly.
This could work. Might actually work on the husband too especially when on his days off his alibi is “I worked like a dog around the house!” Sadly for him I am not able to ascertain much of a difference from when I left for work. The right line of questioning could change all this. Instead of taking the facts in as I see them I could delve more deeply into his personality and elicit a more complete list of things he thinks he did without judging that a day of complete relaxation took place while I had to work (!!!). In all fairness I do need to remember he is providing childcare to (or defending the fort against the onslaughts of) the two-year old and the five-year old (part-time) while I am at work.
Instead of asking what he did for the day as I trip over umpteen pairs of footwear in the front hallway or marvel at how the bathroom has digressed since I viewed it (and quickly tidied it) at 6:00 am that morning. I now could conduct psychological profile questioning with “the place looks better than when I left it (straight face…not a lie…tongue in cheek) I notice that…” then become purposely interrupted (a million kids looking for me with either stories to tell, school paperwork to sign, money needed for something) and unavailable while he tries to boast about all the housework that was done over the din of the noise the herd of children are making.
Without training from the FBI I have learned on my own not to ask the husband questions that reveal details that will incriminate him later. Wrong to ask what wash did he put in the machine as the response will be boastfully “the dark load”-Uh huh…then you open the washing machine to realize that along with the “dark load” is a million little tatters of white stuff…a half dozen Kleenex sheets to be exact (I now know that pockets were NOT checked prior to the wash). Had the husband not been so honest (or the question been asked differently) then cursing his name under your breath as you “divorce” (by hand) all the dark clothes of their clingy, lint bearing, Kleenex remnants would not occur as there are many other individuals who could wear the blame instead (pets, kids, random visitors..etc…)
Questions I have asked over the years the answers to which I have learned to dread…include:
- Where is the bug now?
- Why is the leash (and the dog) tied to the mix-master?
- How many hours ago did you notice the leak?
- How many went down which toilet?
- What do you mean she SWALLOWED it?
One question I no longer ask the teenage male crowd (in the interests of preserving some vestige of inner peace) is… “When was your last shower?”
The costs of living with so many do all add up, some days more than others (and at times the costs are astronomical) but is very much like the MasterCard says “$xxx…family…priceless!”
The MasterCard less Goat