The boys are sitting at the giant island having their fifth pizza lunch in as many days. Obvious hint for future birthday party throwers: just buy pepperoni. Any pizza with veggies goes literally untouched.
Regardless, the boys are wolfing down their pizza in preparation for a playdate. They've gone to this house a few times so far, but it's not yet a regular thing. We go through the pre-delivery drill.
"Remember your pleases and thank yous and give a big thank you for the birthday gift".
The big one nods solemnly.
"What's going to happen when we drop you off?"
It's the little one's turn to nod seriously."We'll be on our best behaviour." We've yet to ask him to define behaviour, but it sounds good in the moment.
He stops then asks, "Are you going to stay there?" It's a totally loaded question. Why should it matter? The question makes me nervous.
"No, but I'll make sure to hook up my secret cameras before we leave. Carol, do you have them loaded up in the van?"
The little one pipes up, "I'm gonna find them, then punch them out."
"Oh, but they're secret. Some look like buttons, some look like light switches. You'd have to punch out all the buttons and switches in the whole house."
This is going to a weird place.
"I'll find them all and punch them all right in the middle."
My mind races. Studies show that kids act better when working with conscience type motivation, which works perfectly with the idea of God. We haven't pushed the idea of God too hard, but now seems like a perfect time.
"You know who you can't punch right in the middle? God. And God is always watching you to make sure you're doing the right thing."
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Carol turning her back to us. Her body is convulsing and periodic snorts send bursts of pizza at the wall. The kids look to her and little questioning smiles spread across their faces.
Dammit. One more parenting tool lost to the inability to keep a straight face. We lost, "we're going to sell you to the gypsies" that way too.