But the day finally comes when the parent looks at the boy, now grown into a young man, and the parent realizes, Shoot. He really IS an idiot.
I give you Exhibit A: my own sons, who for purposes of this entry will be called Pain and Panic.
As the children plowed through their pancakes and bacon and whatever wasn't glued to the table by thousand-year-old maple syrup dribbles, Hubster quizzed them with some catechism questions. For every question they got right, they received another glass of orange juice. I was seeing a lot of potty stops in our immediate future.
After we'd paid the bill by arranging a second mortgage on our house, we headed for the exit. Naturally, Pain and Panic had to finish off an hour of spiritual exercise by jacking a couple of packages of crayons on the way out the door. Which just goes to show you can lead a horse to righteousness but you can't make him repent. Or something like that.
And then they proceeded to terrorize their sister, FashionBug, all the way to Florida. Every time we saw a police car, they stuffed the hot crayons onto her lap and shrieked, "AHHH! The cops are after us for stealing!" FashionBug, who has a law authority phobia anyway, was convinced the whole lot of us would end up in a filthy Mississippi jail, guarded by Mongo.
We arrived in Florida without any other major incidents.
Second day there: Pain and Panic announced they'd like to go fishing in the pond behind Grandpa's house. Grandpa fixed 'em up with a couple of rods and sent them on their merry way, which was rather foolish given that Grandpa's own son, Hubster, could barely be trusted on his own for more than 22.5 seconds until he reached age thirty.
One hour later, I went looking for the boys. They were nowhere to be seen around the pond.
Did I mention that this pond is home to a 10-foot alligator?
And did I also mention that Pain thinks he is the long-lost son of Steve Irwin, the late Crocodile Hunter?
I had visions that my boys had approached the gator with the intent of bringing him back to Texas as a pet, but that the gator had approached them with the intent of bringing them into his stomach as dinner.
Turns out the alligator DID play a role in their disappearance. Or rather, the lack of the gator. After they had fished for, oh, 4 minutes, and there was no sign of the Big Dude, the boys decided to hike over to another pond in hopes of "catching more fish" (which, in boy-speak means, "finding another alligator").
In a rush, it all came back to Grandpa how to parent two wayward boys. The rest of the day was rather, shall we say, unpleasant for Pain and Panic.__________________________________________________
Third day in Florida: We had been advised by Grandma that there had been some break-ins in the neighborhood, and that we were to be diligent in keeping all doors locked at all times. This applied especially to the house next door, where we had been given permission to stay, by the owner who had gone north. (Tommie, if you're reading this: When you go back to Florida in the fall, if you find any of my sons' socks or underwear in that spare bedroom, DO NOT - I repeat, DO NOT - attempt to remove them yourself. Call the authorities.)
It was close to midnight, and I was still up over at Grandpa's house when I heard a banging noise from outside. FashionBug and Pain and Panic had all gone to bed at the neighbor's house next door. The banging continued. I finally realized what was going on. Pain had likely gotten a phone call from a friend, taken his cell phone outside to talk, and was locked out the house. I smiled to myself as I decided to let him suffer the consequences a bit longer.
The banging kept getting louder and more insistent, and I figured I'd better speak to my son before the whole neighborhood was awake and pelting us with rocks and garbage.
I swear I felt every organ in my body shut down when I opened the door, looked across the driveway, and saw three police officers standing there with their weapons drawn. FashionBug was standing in the doorway of the neighbor's house and turning the color Gwyneth Paltrow might be if she spent a year living in a cave. Pain and Panic were, of course, sleeping soundly.
Well. It seems that a vigilant neighbor had noticed lights in the "empty" house, and given the recent rash of burglaries, had called the cops. I explained the situation to the men and they drove off in search of some donuts.
Then I went to do my parenting duty of comforting and calming FashionBug. When I asked her what went through her mind when she opened the door and saw officers with a guns, she said, "I really thought they were here about those crayons."