Some evenings, I work. I’m not home when the boys get off the bus. I have been hesitant to let them stay on their own. It’s not that long until their father gets home from work, but it’s long enough.
I was talking to a friend about this recently, and I paused in my explanation. He said, ” … and you’d like the house to still be standing when you get home?” Well, yes. And the children to be alive. They’re not bad boys — not really — but they do get ideas.
If Grandma’s around, she usually comes over and makes way better snacks than I bother with. Most of the time, she’s not in Ohio, so they come home, dump their backpacks, and go to the neighbors’ house. The neighbors, bless them for saints, are sisters in their upper 80s, and I imagine having the boys descend is a little like living in Florida and preparing for a tropical storm. No need to panic exactly, but you’d best be prepared and have laid in extra rations. Still, they seem faintly disappointed if we cancel on them, so perhaps the entertainment is worth the disruption.
Both boys know my phone number by heart, but we’re all used to the routine and they know the rules, so I rarely get a call.
This week, I got three. Three separate phone calls. Because they kept hanging up on me.
Me: … hello?
L: MOM. MOM. There is a BOX HERE. Do you know about this? Is it from you?
Me: Box? I don’t know anything about a box. What does it say?
L: We opened it. It said it was for us! It said it was for Zollinger Boyz! We opened it and there are box tops.
Me: Someone sent you a box full of box tops???
L: NO. MOM. There are chips and squirt guns. WHO SENT THIS???
Me: I don’t know. Is there a note?
There was a note. There were four or five notes, as I discovered later that evening.
Me: Hello. Is there a note?
E: No! There’s no note! Who is it from?
Me: I don’t know. Is there a return address?
E: It says it’s for Zollinger Boyz.
Me: Yes. I know. That’s the address. Who it’s FOR. Does it say who it’s FROM?
E: No, it doesn’t say anything! Mom, there is so much candy! And crayons, and shirts! And Pringles! And box tops!
Me: Wow! Are you sure it doesn’t have a return address?
E: It’s says it’s for us! It said so! Can we have the chips for snack? Please?
There was a return address. I maybe need to have them help me send a package off to someone and explain a few things.
E: PLEASE CAN WE HAVE CHIPS FOR SNACK PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
Me: Stop! Yes, you can have chips for snack.
E: YAYYYYYYYY!!!!! Dad’s home. He wants to talk to you.
Me: Wait! You can have chips for snack, but don’t eat the whole can. <pause> Did you hear me?
E: Yes. Yes yes. We won’t eat the whole can.
L, in the background: We won’t, Mom!
E: Here’s Dad. Bye!
Paul has the distinction of being the only one of my boyz who understands what a return address is, and also the only one who didn’t hang up on me out of sheer excitement.
The package was from my friend Mary Ellen in Massachusetts, and when I got home that night I discovered that there were indeed box tops, along with coloring books, crayons, Mad Libs, summer t-shirts, and other gifts to delight the hearts of young boys. And CHIPS. Of course.
Thank you, Mary Ellen. They are enjoying and will continue to enjoy their Hooray Summer package immensely. I’m sorry I wasn’t home to videotape the insanity for you. If you like, I’ll give you a call and try to recreate the decibel levels I was dealing with over the phone.
And you will be happy to know that the boys were indeed listening, and they did not eat the whole can of Pringles.