We've always been The House where the neighborhood kids gather. I love that. LOVE IT. Secretly wanted it since I started planning my family. I like kids, I really do. I also like knowing where my kids are, and what they're doing. Over the years, the concerns about their activities have changed of course, but being able to supervise them myself is still what I prefer.
We picked this house for many reasons, and one of them was that the neighborhood was in transition. The houses were built in 1974, and the kids who moved in here were for the most part now grown and gone, and the parents left behind were leaving for patio homes and places without kids running around. A whole new generation of families were moving in, and when we got here there were seven boys, all about the age of my boys, living on our short street. It's a semi-circle, and the only reason for someone to drive it would be to get home. There are other streets for cutting through the neighborhood. Perfect!
I do know that one of the reasons we're The House is that I feed them, so I thought I'd share my summer food rules, 2012 version, in case you are in need of some ideas for handling the hordes of teenagers camping out at YOUR house. Or so that you can laugh and say, “She's nuts. But kinda funny.”
- Use the paper plates and plastic cups I've provided, and hence, the trashcan.
- You must leave no trace of your presence behind. I should be able to look at my kitchen at the end of the day and wonder, “Did anyone eat anything?”
- Certain foods are off limits, but they've been marked. Eat them and you lose food privileges for a week. I don't want to start making dinner and realize they ate all the veggies for my stir-fry. With teenagers, I realize veggie stealing is only a remote possibility, but I also like to mess with them. “But Mrs. Downey, I don't even know what that is!” (lemon grass). No, I don't make them call me Mrs. Downey, but some of their PARENTS make them do that. I prefer they just call me Tina. It's my name.
- One pop per day. They are marked. You will NOT get away with it. And don't commit the unforgivable sin of taking my last diet Mountain Dew. You will be my manual labor slave until you drop dead. Or The Engineer gets home. He frowns upon this rule, not for the limiting of pop, which he believes shouldn't be in the house anyway, but in the slave labor. He pays them for chores.
- You must contribute one chore a day. If you can't figure out what that might be, there are large paving stones that need to migrate from the utility trailer to the pallets where we are gathering them for the eventual rebuilding of the back patio.
- I shop on Mondays. Whatever is in the house on Monday will not be replenished until the following Monday. Share and ration.
This was taken during Christmas vacation. They're all taller now, but that's about the only change. Mine are first and second from the left.
Are you The House? What rules do you have? Enjoy your weekend. I'm headed for my continual thistle battle. I'll show you the scars that are surely going to result later...