“That’s IT! If you people can’t cooperate, then THIS government is shutting down!” I shouted at my kids staring up at me from their dinner plates.
They had no idea what I was talking about, but the federal government shutdown had been in the news lately. Besides, threatening the kids just felt good.
Since my husband left for his new job at Naval Station Mayport, Florida a few weeks ago (we will join him once the kids finish school in Stuttgart,) I have become the sole governor of this household. The Commander in Chief of the Homefront. The Lord of the Houseflies.
I am the Legislative, Judicial and Executive branches all rolled up into one spatula-wielding dictator.
When the masses defy my authority, I could, theoretically, stage a government shutdown of my own. But I know I’ll never go through with it. My threats are completely idle, and the kids know it.
But, what if . . .
The kids awoke that fateful day to a “SLAM!” of Mom’s bedroom door. Peeking through the keyhole, they could see that Mom had dragged the coffee maker, a cooler, four cans of Pringles, three bottles of wine, and a boxed DVD set of “The Office” into her room and locked the door.
A sign taped on the outside read “Government shutdown until further notice.”
The three kids – Hayden, Anna and Lilly – stared groggily at the sign for a minute. As the consequences began to dawn on them, they turned to each other and grinned.
“Cool!” Lilly exclaimed, “This is gonna be fun!”
In their pajamas, they raced to the kitchen. “I call the rest of the Captain Crunch!” Anna shouted, sliding to a stop on the tile floor.
“Forget cereal,” Hayden declared, “I’m eating chocolate cake, and I might have a slice of leftover pizza for dessert!”
An hour later, the kids were stuffed and lazing the day away in front of the television watching a marathon of “Jersey Shore” and sipping Coca Cola through Pixy Stix.
Nature eventually called, and Hayden peeled himself off the couch to head for the bathroom.
“Uh oh,” Hayden mumbled. “Who was supposed to walk the dog?” He let “Dinghy” outside to roam the neighborhood, laid a towel over the puddle and resolved to deal with it later.
Taking full advantage of the anarchy, the kids spent the entire day in their pajamas raiding the kitchen cupboards every couple hours.
Hayden invited some friends over to play video games. Lilly was glued to the television, learning all kinds of new words and fashion trends. Anna spent all afternoon on the telephone, calling to chat with friends back in the States.
The next day brought more of the same. However, the toilet clogged mid day, the wet laundry in the washing machine started to stink, and there was no more milk to mix with the Nesquik.
Lilly found the lunch money jar, and was excited to discover that it contained over $20 in coins.
“Woo hoo!” Anna yelled, “Let’s go to the store – I’ll make us a feast!”
She asked Hayden what he wanted, but he could only grunt, unable to break from the video game stupor he had been in for the last 24 hours.
“Lilly! Are you dressed yet?” Anna wailed, as Lilly, aged 10, emerged from her room dressed in booty shorts, spaghetti string halter top, fuzzy slippers, knotted hair, and two days worth of plaque on her teeth. “Ready!”
Two hours later, the girls concocted an Ovaltine aperitif accompanied by a delectable chocolate doughnut amuse bouche. The entrée was a lovely microwaved trio de fromage – fried mozzarella sticks, Totinos cheese pizza and Hot Pockets – with a generous side of tater tots.
Finding no clean utensils, dessert was a scrumptious brownie chunk ice cream eaten straight out of the carton with used Popsicle sticks and washed down with Monster drinks.
On day three, the natives were restless. The novelty of anarchy was beginning to wear off, and the kids were bored with Jerry Springer reruns and punching buttons on the microwave.
“When is Mom coming outta there,” Lilly whined.
“I don’t know, but this is starting to get serious,” Anna said. “My cropped jeans need to be washed, and ever since you blew a fuse microwaving that can of ravioli, my curling iron doesn’t work!”
Hayden, recuperating from his video game bender, chimed in, “Yeah, and Mom needs to go to the grocery. I actually had to eat a banana for breakfast. This is a crisis situation!”
Standing before Mom’s bedroom door, the kids beat, pounded, cried, wailed and made promises.
When Mom finally emerged, the kids bombarded her with desperate hugs and kisses. “Mom!” they cried, “Don’t ever leave us again! We can’t live without you! We promise we’ll do whatever you want from now on!”
And they all lived happily ever after.
. . . A Mom can dream, can’t she?