People often ask me: “Mark, what’s it like to have teens in the house?”
After I laugh a lot, then cry (quite a bit), I tell these stories:
STORY ONE—THE HAMBURGER
Me: “Ben, I’m going to Harvey’s for supper. What do you want?”
Ben: “Can I order ANYTHING I WANT?”
Ben: “Okay, I’ll have a burger with lettuce, ketchup, onions, relish, banana peppers, 6 dill pickles, cheese and bacon.”
Me: “Done. I’m just getting a burger with cheese and bacon so I’ll be back quick!”
As expected, within 30 minutes I was back in the house with our supper. I set the bag of burgers on the table and moved to the closet to take off my shoes and coat.
By the time I got back, my 15 year old was already well into his meal. I sat down beside him at the table. The problems arose when I started looking for my food.
Me (opening up the remaining burger package): “Uuummmm this isn’t my burger.”
Ben, with his mouth full: “Mmm Hmmm.”
Me: “Do you have lettuce, ketchup, onions, relish, banana peppers, 6 dill pickles, cheese and bacon on the one you’re eating?”
Ben (continuing to eat): “Yeah, I think so.”
Me: “Really? Because it’s also on this one.”
Ben: “Wait. This one only has cheese and bacon on it.”
I begin to eat what is clearly my son’s hamburger.
Ben: “WHY ARE YOU EATING MY BURGER?”
Me: “You’re already half way through mine.”
My wife: “You’re not going to eat Ben’s burger are you?”
Me: “Of course I am.”
Ben: “Wow, Dad.”
Guess who got to eat one and a half burgers that night.
STORY TWO- THE BARBECUE
My wife: “Honey, I know you just got home and I’m sorry to do this but the barbecue is broken and I need you to fix it right away.”
Me: “Really? What’s the prob?” (I sometimes shorten my words to appeal to today’s teens)
My wife: “The turny-thingy is frozen shut. I couldn’t get it to budge and so I asked Duncan to try…and…I think he may have broken it.”
Me: “The turny-thingy? THE VALVE?? He broke the valve on the propane tank? What happened then?”
My wife: “Well nothing, of course. It’s stuck in the OFF position.”
My first course of action was to assess the damage. The barbecue was pulled out from the railing of the deck. A closer look revealed that, indeed, the handle of the valve was broken. Very broken. As in, 80% of the handle was lying in pieces on the ground. There was only one slim sliver of handle left, hanging by a virtual thread on the top of the tank of explosive propane.
Duncan met me in the kitchen.
Duncan: “So, to be clear, the brick wasn’t my first choice in tools to use for this.”
Duncan: “Right. First I used the wrench-thing. Then that didn’t work so I picked up a brick and tried to, you know, jar it loose.”
Me: “You tried to jar it loose with a brick.”
Duncan: “Yeah, but it didn’t work. The valve is still closed.”
I grabbed a pipe wrench and returned in 5 minutes, problem solved.
Me wife: “Done already??”
Duncan: “How did you fix it so fast?”
Me: “It wasn’t stuck shut. It was stuck open. You guys were trying to open it even further. With bricks. It’s lit now. And I’ve hidden all the bricks, to prevent further repairs.”