Monday, June 3, 2013

Law Abiding Citizens

My twin, teenagery sons are two things above all else.

Thing one: They are die-hard, obsessed, over-the-top-committed, wake-up-in-the-morning-singing-Sweet-Caroline-oh-oh-oh, Red Sox fanaticals. (Thank you, Dad.)

Thing two: They are hungry. All the time, every time, five minutes after dinnertime, they are hungry. 

I’m convinced no matter how much money we pump into their overpriced educations they will ultimately emerge as food vendors at Fenway Park.

Lately, however, I’ve been considering they might take up law. This wouldn’t be unusual in our family; two of my children’s grandparents and about 150 of their aunts and uncles are lawyers. From the moment my kids began to talk, they would argue circles around us until our heads twisted off like pop tops. (Thank you, Grandpa.)

Both my children are big talkers who, much to our combined delight and dismay, tend to overinform. No matter how simple the question, we’d get long, winding answers that would take us on excruciatingly descriptive journeys to places no parent wants to be—for example, the boy’s bathroom, where we’d get, um, authentic sound effects and memorized recitations of EVERYHING scrawled on the walls. We’d learn who likes whom and what the girls write in the messages they stick in their boyfriend’s locker. We’d hear all about each friend’s boasted “experience” with sex and other cringe-worthy topics that make my brain scream in horror, even as I maintain the sedate, attentive smile that keeps them talking.

We are informed of what every single child in the cafeteria eats for lunch that is so much better than what I provide; who did what on the playground, who got away with it and who got busted. We’d find out what someone said to my son that hurt his feelings, and what he was contemplating saying back in retribution. We’d also learn from one son what the other son watched on Showtime, which prompted the news that the first son was up texting until 3 am.

All I asked was if they had a math test.

But lately I’ve been noticing a new trend. I don’t know if it’s their age, hormones, or just that their mouths are too tired from so much chewing, but recently my dialogue with them has felt more like a deposition.

How was school?
“I don't recall.”
What did you eat for lunch?
“I cannot say.”
Did you finish your homework?
“I do not know.”
Who threw the wet, muddy baseball and two caked baseball gloves into my laundry basket filled with previously clean sheets and towels?
“Uhhhhh,” they’d stall, glancing sideways at each other for what I can only assume is legal representation …
“We plead the fifth.”

Eventually the floodgates reopen and we once again get much more than we bargained for—usually after dinner, or after their after-dinner dinner, or past 11 pm on a school night when they just finished their third dinner and should be sleeping but the Red Sox are in extra innings and there is no way they're missing that. 

That's OK, as long as I can keep 'em talking ... I don't even care if their mouths are full.