Our kids had the clear advantage during the last week of summer vacation. My wife went back to college and I was away on business all week. So our children were left to fend for themselves, without the supervision of a Responsible Adult.
Now before you call Children’s Aid Services for the Protection of Children from Neglectful Slime Ball Parents, let me assure you that my wife and I are the most excellent parents our children could ever have. As proof, I submit the following receipts for the original Nintendo game system, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Game Cube, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, and Gameboy Advance. Without our patronage, the Nintendo Game Corporation’s annual profits would only be one million dollars, instead of one billion dollars.
Nonetheless, we weren’t without our apprehensions over the prospect of the three of them being left alone the last week of summer vacation. So before I left, I laid down the following rules:
• No playing Nintendo without your Mom or I around to limit your time to 30 minutes per day.
• No snacking on chips, simulated “cheese” snacks, cookies, ice cream, Popsicles, or any of a wide variety of “food” with names like Ding Dongs.
• You are required to increase your housework duties from “very little” to “a lot more.” Not only are you to keep your rooms tidy, but also to keep the kitchen, family room, bathroom, yard and garage tidy.
• No friends.
• Don’t harass your mother while she’s doing her homework.
After they finished giggling hysterically, they asked why we didn’t just chain them up in their rooms every morning. I had to admit that we had considered this, but the price of good chains is out of this world.
Encouraged by the good-natured response of the kids, my wife and I left on our respective journeys. Of course, I had the advantage of being far away during this week while my wife had to come back home every day. So after my first day of meetings, consultations, and fine dining, I called home to see how things were going.
Never call home from a distant location to see how things are going the first day your wife goes back to school and the kids have been left alone all day. That’s my new creed. In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that I was in a distant location when I made the call. Otherwise, it seems doubtful that I would be able to type this column and rather more likely that my bandaged up arms would be hosting my bandaged up fingers that placed the phone call.
It seems that in our absence, our children not only violated all of the rules that I had laid down, but had violated a whole host of new rules that I hadn’t even thought up yet. I will spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that our children completed all 4,700 levels of the latest Nintendo game, had accumulated enough empty foil snack wrappers to deplete the great snack wrapper mines of Moria, had extended their realms of untidiness to the entire house, submerged our tent trailer in the swimming pool (I confess that I hadn’t thought to tell them not to do this), and exhausted their mother after she got home from school.
And all this on the first day!
You can imagine my trepidation as I set out for home a few days later. I was feeling so trepidated, that I decided to spend one more night away from home and stay with my friend in Toronto. My friend had exciting news in that he was just promoted to Press Secretary for an Important Person in our Government. He is responsible for this person’s communication strategy, media relations, and press releases.
This is how I came to develop my plan for a safe return home the following day. I asked my friend to first issue a press release to the effect that the Nintendo corporation has decided to alter its corporate strategy and stop producing video games and start donating their wealth to video game rehabilitation clinics. Then I will use my friend’s communications strategy to communicate to my children my profound sadness regarding this news and explain to them that will now have ample time help out more around the house. Finally, I will take my wife out for a nice dinner to enhance our marital relations.
Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.