Or At Least I Wished They Had
A weird thing happened to me this morning: Both of my children got out of bed after only asking them one time. Then they pleasantly dressed themselves, ate a full breakfast of exactly what I made for them, and walked into school on time. Early, actually.
I know. Sounds pretty boring … if you don’t have kids.
But if you have kids, you know it’s a weirdo thing. You might even already be casually heading over to the news channel to check the feed. Full double blood moon? Wacky Wednesday? That sort of stuff.
More experienced parents are calling grandma to ask if they had ever cooperated as children. In fact I just overheard a neighbor calling Center for Disease Control to ask if some type of strange herd illness broke out. Then I noticed the mail carrier directing a squad of National Guard troops down at the corner where my house was and they started filling sandbags. My phone alerted me that NASA.gov is directing all satellites to check if the earth’s magnetic fields flipped their poles. Wow, word really spreads when my kids behave, right?
It was weird not having the normal routine, so I had to go through the motions, just to ease into the mental adjustment. I went to the bathroom and loudly encouraged myself to get ready! several times. Then I disrespectfully mumbled back at my reflection, “you get ready, stupid head.”
My mirror image threatened to take away my TV time, after which I churlishly stomped downstairs and tossed a full bowl of O’s cereal on the floor for good measure, blamed it on my sister, and sullenly complained that there wasn’t anything good to eat in the whole house.
I decided to make a physical assessment. The upstairs hallway was clean. Then, wait — the bathroom. The toothbrushes were rinsed and put away. Counter wiped down. And … hold on a minute … what’s that smell? Is it not urine that I smell? It’s been ages since I’ve smelled not urine in my bathroom. And is that, could it be … lemon zest? Who had time to zest in the bathroom?
Usually the toothbrushes are left out, foamy bubbles mixed with spit, tossed aside to harden. Glob of toothpaste smashed from the tube and smeared on the sink countertop. Towels strewn through the hallway. And the pee. Lord, the pee. All over the toilet seat, lid, and floor, from my young son. It’s less a messy toilet mishap and more the men’s room after a particularly rowdy English soccer match at an Olympic stadium during an earthquake where all the attendees wear stilts to use urinals at a normal height. Think Old Spice: Roman Latrine.
OK, hallway, clean. Bathrooms, clean. I better check the bedrooms. Usually, when I lay down with my son at night to help him fall asleep, my hair gets stuck in the sticky remnants of a ripped open container of Fun Dip, it’s crystal sugar mix spilled all around his sweat soaked pillow and the dippin’ stick broken in pieces, mostly ground into the carpet, so I can’t even try to get seconds on it. Dear Willy Wonka: how can a kid fall asleep while midstream mainlining a half cup of colored sugar crystals?
I brace myself. Their rooms were in pristine order. Beds made. Pillows fluffed. Shoes aligned. No sign of dirty clothes. No cats trapped under overturned laundry baskets held in place for the day with stacks of books on top. Not even a cape or dirty sock. No piles of catnip mixed in with pencil shavings. And yeah, why would a kid do that to a cat? First old Felix is enjoying some catnip and then, wait, what is this? Lead? You put lead in my snack? WTF! Not cool, man. Not cool.
Where was I? Cats distract me. OK, right — long story short: at this point we all know what’s up. It’s pretty much an alien invasion.
I check under my kids’ beds for those body snatcher pods. It’s textbook knowledge that pods are the standard alien-to-child takeover delivery device. They go under the bed. While kids sleep, something something something. Most likely the best chance I’ll get to use the word osmosis. So, osmosis. When the kids wake up, aliens inhabit their bodies. Game. Set. Match. Spooky stuff. Aliens take over the planet.
What? You think this is a leap? I’ll spell it out. My kids were taken over by aliens who incubated through space pod magic in the erstwhile candy debris field beneath two tiny race car and princess beds. Yeah. Intergalactic invasion.
I take a moment to consider the situation. First, hey, the house is clean and everyone got out to school on time. For once. This is a scenario I am … comfortable with. Maybe, instead of destroying any pods and thwarting the invasion, I should just let it ride.
So long as the lizard aliens or whatever keep behaving really nicely and accordingly, what’s the harm, right? How long will they play ball before they attempt to take over the earth’s governments or eat us and such? Are we talking a few hours or like, a solid month of good behavior?
I know a whole lot of parents who could get behind this longer-term type of infiltration plan. Drax … I mean you kiddos … behave while your parents go out for dinner. We know you’ll be good. There’s a box of live mice* in the basement if you get hungry. Wink.
*No mice were harmed in the writing of this essay. Preemptive apologies to PETA for developing scenarios wherein it is implied that mice might be eaten by lizard aliens, and to ACDAGoCA, the Alien Clean Diet Advocacy Group of California, for implying that I know what aliens like to eat before honoring the alien need for a lengthy contextual listening session about diet, alternative carbon-based digestive systems, and bloat.
Oh, I know some folks might get super antsy at the prospect of an alien invasion, especially if it involves their children. God’s little angels. But believe me, they’ll come around once they start seeing the discipline and hey, what’s this? Straight A’s on your report card? Outstanding citizenship?!? Little Drax … aww, I’m so proud. *Hugs*
Besides, it won’t be a surprise to us. We know the deal. Aliens, right? We can see through the guise. They think children are just so darn compliant — the whole seen but not heard ideal. So 1960s. They are still decoding Andy Griffith reruns that we beamed out fifty years ago. I don’t understand the full mechanics of light speed but my guess is they haven’t gotten The Outsiders yet, or Welcome Back, Kotter. Or Whatchu talkin bout, Willis? Diff’rent Strokes. Eat My Shorts, indeed. Physics, man. Bummer. Too bad, too. They are behind on a lot of good TV.
In a way, I feel sort of sorry for them. The aliens, not my kids. Despite a supposed vastly superior technological skillset, they blew the invasion effort because they didn’t take the time to digest basic child psychology. Like, 101 level stuff. Sorry, Starman. You solved interstellar travel, but you flunked the first lesson in children: kids are tiny nuclear devices with hair triggers that are constantly rolling down a rocky hillside. BOOM! Baby, you never know when, you just know it’s coming.
Quick: what do you do when the grilled cheese is cut into triangles at the four corners instead of squares from the sides? You say thank you and eat it? Oh really? WRONG.
Any red blooded human child, especially one in a restaurant, would instantly wing that sandwich at a parent and scream indignities. “How dare you cut my sandwich at the corners, sir! Only a beast would eat triangles!” Then it’s all arms folded.
Notice, alien overlord, how the lower lip protrudes in conjunction with the crossing of the arms. You didn’t even ask if we put the right kind of cheese on it. Pathetic. Do some research. At least read the Crib Notes on Humans.**
** Story idea: write Crib Notes for Humans, Intergalactic sales opportunity! I’m such a genius.
If you can’t fake a rage-fueled tantrum, then you can’t fool a parent. Also, for future reference, this is kind of a trick question. It doesn’t matter which way parents cut anything. In triangles. Or in squares. Or fancy ovals. Or ducks.
The answer is always get angry because it isn’t cut the other way. Adult humans, point to your temples and nod, smiling. You know. You’ve been there. Aces.
I get it. I understand the underlying internal alien problem. Invasion teams, right? Cooped up in that mighty space ship for a whole trip across the universe. Light years in a tin box, the same people, same food, same routines, over and over and over. Probably gets kinda stuffy after awhile. Maybe they get sick of each other. Fights break out, mutiny. Fires in space. All bad — can’t have that.
When all this was in the drawing board phase, back on Terra Alienus, the assault team candidates probably took all sorts of personality and compatibility tests just to be able to make the cut. Who can get along. Who needs to stay home and tend the farm.
Which means the invasion squad crews were picked for their predisposition to actually being kinda cool to one another. Compliant. Nice. Thoughtful. A whole ship full of MVPs. Overachievers. Cum Laude all the way. Really polite and everything. They take care of the little things. Clean up after themselves. Make eye contact. Nod and smile. Listen to each other. Cooperate to the max.
Sigh. Where was I?
An invasion squad full of tolerant lizard people.
And that’s their key mistake. They left the dangerous ones back on the home planet. Sent us the ones who wipe the toothpaste off the mirror. Those they left behind are probably rummaging through the cigarette drawer and picking the lock on the liquor cabinet. Filling the empties back up with colored water. Animals! Literally.
You see where I’m going? Maybe we can work something out with the aliens. Minus the eating humans element (I’m thinking Nutella is a suitable substitute), I think we could all find real progress.
We’ll raise them with so much love and gooey millennial attention, they won’t know what isolating social media profile to post their filtered Tik Toks to first.
And us? Our houses stay clean, homework gets done, our bathrooms smell nice, and the vegetables get eaten. It’s basically a win-win.
So I look under the beds. To my great disappointment, there are no pods. But here’s to hoping. Maybe the aliens figured out a new infiltration method.
I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.
Or … or maybe … maybe my children are growing up, becoming more responsible.
Maybe they really took last night’s talk to heart, learned some lessons about being part of the family and pulling their own weight. About thinking of others and respecting their mother.
Nah. I need to be realistic. It’s aliens.