After a phenomenal vacation, Team WestEnders spent last week in the critical Re-Entry Phase...which meant very different things for each of us, as it turned out. (But fortunately NOT shattering into pieces as you hit the atmosphere, then becoming a fireball hurtling towards the Earth...'cuz,, you know, that would just SUCK...) Husband, for example, had to turn right back around (after arriving home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, remember) and pack up once more to drive to Maryland on Monday morning for business-related meetings that would last the whole week. I returned to work as well, which just left the adolescent sluggards--um, "treasured children"--at home during the day to amuse themselves.
I knew they were tired from our very active adventure and long travel day, so I initially cut them some slack. Left to their own devices, they reported that they emerged from their rooms at about 9:45 for breakfast. Afterwards, they would turn on ESPN (shocker!) and watch it for the full hour, to make sure they were as up-to-date as possible on all things SportsCenter felt it necessary to convey. And then...with the rest of the day ahead of them, what did they do? From what I gathered when returning home from the office...a little bit of attempted playing together...and a whole lot of pointless bickering. (Or, as we like to call it, "the yoozsh"...)
They did tell me that one day they'd been so bored that they tuned in to HGTV...for an episode of Love It or List It. (Oh, heaven help me, I've created...home improvement voyeurs...) As I was processing this information, trying to decide if it was disturbing....or admirable...Derek continued, "We wanted to punch the wife--she was soooo annoying! She was unreasonable, and the house was ridiculous, and we were totally rooting for her husband to win, and for them to move. So whenever something would go the guy's way, we'd be yelling at the TV, 'Yeah, Phil! Go, Phil!'" Ahhhhh. Now I can totally picture the two of them, hopping up and down excitedly, waving their arms about as they shouted encouragement at the apparently-beleaguered "Phil". Yep, they viewed it just exactly like they would any major sporting event....somehow, I do feel better....
Knowing that they were going to be fending for themselves for at least a few hours a day, I got into the habit of verbally reminding them about To Do Tasks--stuff like emptying the wastebaskets, or taking the recycling bin down to the curb. But one night Derek wearily sighed, "Could you write it down? Otherwise I'm gonna forget." Well...that is certainly honest and self-aware, I'll give you that. So I began scribbling not only those items, but also such crucial details as "Microwave Times" for the leftovers I wanted them to finish. "Hotdogs: 1 minute. Beans: 30 seconds, stir, repeat until warm enough." Etc. It seemed a little silly, but after a few days of this--with the chores getting done, the house NOT burned down, and the refrigerator cleaned out nicely--Derek gravely said, "Thanks for the notes, Mom....they're really helpful." Alrighty, then. A handy-dandy new...Boys on Their Own, Summertime System...is born!
But perhaps the hardest thing for all of us (well, maybe not Husband, who got to continue with the "eating out" trend on his business trip...lucky duck...) was having to forage for meals ourselves, rather than wandering up to an extensive buffet and grazing lavishly on an assortment of delectable goodies. (Sigh....I cannot even begin to express how much I miss that....) The first night back, Riley was nibbling the last few bites of his dinner and casually tossed out, "So...where's the cheesecake bar?" I happened to be passing through the kitchen at the time, heard him, and snorted, "Yeah, good luck with that!" As I went on my way, I just barely caught him mutter in a slightly huffy, under-his-breath voice, "It wasn't a JOKE!" I get ya, sweetie...I feel very nostalgic for the mini-mousse desserts, myself. But let's put it this way: unless you and your brother opt for the Cooking Channel, and learn to produce those fabulous treats....it's just not gonna happen. So yeah...get right on that, will ya? Clearly, you've got nothing better to do!