With boys, it’s “Happy Days” and “Leave it to – the Lemmings?”

Categorized as 07/04/11 Goshen News column

Inventive critters that they are, they were launching themselves off the side of the trampoline on that tire swing, one of them with whoops of delight (Boy Two), one of them with delighted giggles (Boy Four), and one of them with adolescent screams of terror (Boy Three).  The latter, I saw, was being given “helpful” nudges by the former just about the time he’d get his left leg in the tire.  “Surely it can’t be that bad,” I thought.  “It doesn’t look that high.”  That’s what I thought until, at their urging, I hopped up to try it myself.  I put my own left leg in, swung out over a great chasm, and left my stomach hanging somewhere high up in the leafy branches.  With shrieks of – you know.  Happy Days?  Yes.  We’re certainly doing “happy days.” We’re also doing our own version of “Leave It To Beaver.”  Only I would call it “Leave It To the Lemmings.”  As in, leave it to the little lemmings to figure out ways to antagonize mother and each other and horse around while the work lies forgotten.  Perhaps you’re familiar with that particular plot line?  Soon after school was out, the father of the lemmings had ordered them outside to dig the ashes out of the fire pit in preparation for the campfire season.  I had also drafted them to weed the garden while they were at it.  For awhile, they stuck with it, working together like a well-oiled machine, digging, filling buckets, and dumping them over the back fence.  Even Little dug in, trailing ashes as he hauled dirt back and forth.  I should’ve known something was rotten in you-know-where when the older one presented at my desk, asking for a piece of paper with an impish glint in his eye that bespoke no intention of doing sums or anything else so productive.  It was later when his younger brother appeared, waving a note he’d found taped to a bucket, that I found out what he’d been up to.  “Dear brother,” it read.  “Had to go to the hospital.  Take bucket back and finish up the rest (including garden).”  It was signed with his name, followed by a weak and unconvincing “Mom” in cursive letters.  The invalid, of course, was nowhere in sight.  Later that night, I reported the incident to their father, finishing with a wry, “You’ve got extremely creative kids.” “What we need,” he said, looking tired, “is for the ‘extreme creator’ to be very, very tired.”  As it turns out, the Good Lord must have interpreted that as a prayer request, which He graciously answered with a little three-letter word, j-o-b.  This wondrous turn of events has allowed me to update last summer’s Facebook status that read, “Trouble and chaos, thy name starteth with a ‘J.’  Thou art 16 years old and highly underemployed.” This summer, my status has changed to, “Trouble and chaos, thy name still starteth with a ‘J.’  Thou art now 17 years old and art finally employed.” “And God bless thine employer,” I added silently, “with such an abundance of work that thou shalt return very tired indeed at eventide.”  So far, He has and he is.  And as it turns out, “Father Knows Best.”  As we say on Facebook, “Like!”

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