If you have sons of a certain age, you will be surprised at how infrequently they change their underwear.
Use a bath towel once and it's in a clothes basket (or more likely a heap on the bathroom floor), but send them to a friend's house for the weekend and the clean undies you send with them will come back untouched, do a load of laundry and the ratio of socks to undies is like 8 to 1.
I can't understand it.
It's like the new math.
Sex is the traditional means by which one acquires children. Sometimes, when you have what's considered to be a lot of children, others might presume that you do not know that sex leads to babies, that you perhaps forgot this fact, or that you need a gentle "wink, wink, nudge, nudge," reminder. This idea might cause some people to say loudly, "hey you guys, don't cha know how this thing works?" And while I know that this is said in jest. It's not okay to say. Ever.
The Pinewood Derby is an event that your sons will participate in if they become cub scouts. You'll sign your kids up for cub scouts even though you frown on the BSA's stance on homosexual leaders because you're desperate for someone, anyone, to teach your kids good manners and besides you're a Unitarian so the kids meet plenty of gay couples at fellowship. So you sign up for cub scouts and it's pretty fun. There are parades, pledges, secret handshakes, and field trips, and your kids look pretty smart in those uniforms. And then it's February and your kids come home from scouts with a block of wood and tell you that you're suppose to help them make it into a car, and not just any car, a car that will win the derby. So you nod and look excited and give the box to your husband and think "yes!" finally a project were dads get judged with the same unfairness with which moms get judged: Halloween costumes, clever goodie bags at the birthday party, the most desirable dessert at the pot luck, your kids appearance. No one ever thinks a kid is dirty and has messy hair because their dad is a slacker. On the other hand, The Pinewood Derby is all about the dads. The Dad's who were once cub scouts themselves have the first advantage because they've already seen which car designs are the sleekest. Then there's the weight and where to put the weight, and how to incorporate your son's Star Wars theme, or "make mine an alligator like Billy's dad did last year," (curses to Billy's dad). And finally knowing how much room to leave between the wheels and the ground so the car doesn't get stuck in the track. The dads for the most part take their jobs seriously. While moms will stand aside at the pot luck and pretend they don't care if no one eats their green bean casserole, dads pay attention. They stand at the end of the track and take notes and confer with the other dads. The derby dads have to be ready to problem solve on a moment's notice. This is another category that's usually dominated by moms. Who's got a kleenex, extra bottled water, a sweatshirt, or clean undies? The moms right? At the derby the dads stand ready, usually armed with pocket knives that look like they came from the prop closet of Survivor. I once saw a dad chisel down his son's car when it was over 5oz at weigh in. He whittled it symmetrically too, it wasn't just a last minute hack. Another dad used his pocket knife to dig out a weight to bring his son's car under the weight limit and a third dad tried but alas failed to hollow out the bottom of his son's car so it would stop catching on the track. There was crying. Like monsters on the edges of ancient maps - the sign above the church basement where the derby is to be held should read, "here there be crying." I think the reason the Pinewood Derby is held in the basement of a church is so as to give the dads a more direct route with their prayers (Please God don't let my kid come in last), and also to remind people that there are worse things than having your kid be the one whose axel comes off his car midway down the track. Worse things. Like crucifixion.
If your four boys don't kill you with constant quarreling, they will numb your brain with a stream of questions that would confound Confucius.
Here are a few that I managed to write down since the A to Z challenge began: How high can birds fly? How many kids are there in the world? How many rocks are there in the world? How many trees are there in the world? Can the library take a book out of the library? Can a person have no cousins? Does xylophone start with y? Is a vine a tree? What would happen if your penis got chopped off? What if you got married and at the church where you married you had a favorite stuffy and there was a bench up front, could you put your stuffy on the bench? When someone dies do they really get Xs over their eyes? How many minutes have I been alive? Is it nighttime yet? Is three a famous number? What kind of animals was God? Who's gooder, God or Santa Claus? What would happen if you threw a box of matches into the fireplace? Can a king not have a baby? How many years will I be when I'm 57? What if some kid brought in one million dollars to school on banking day?
You may think that once your kids are potty trained you won't have to worry about poop anymore but I'm here to regretfully tell you that this isn't the case.
Go ahead, google "my six year old poops in his pants," about a million hits come up.
The majority of six year old who poop in their pants are boys so with four boys, odds are you'll get one pant's pooper.
And here's the infuriating thing about it.
It doesn't bother them!
You'd think it would but it doesn't.
Touch the apple sauce to the chicken pot pie on their dinner plate and they freak out - but sit around at extended day in poopy underwear and not only will they not think it's a big deal, they'll question why you're insisting they take a shower that night.
Oh - and - unless you have a trust fund earmarked for the replacement of poopy underwear - poop is easier to peal off underpants when it's dried out.
If you are lucky your four sons will spend copious amounts of time outdoors in all sorts of weather, in all sorts of seasons, and even in the dark if they are so included and you remembered to stock their Christmas stockings with flashlights.
What will they do out there?
They will spend 95% of the time chasing each other around with sticks.
I once found a handmade sign in our yard that read, "sticks rule." Couldn't argue with that.
The other 5% of the time they'll spend strewing about the yard all the outdoor toys that they don't actually play with. If they can reach a hose and turn it on they'll make mud pies which they'll stir up with their sticks.
If they're old enough to have pocket knives they'll whittle their sticks into points in order to up the chances of putting someone's eye out.
Outdoors is a great place for your kids to be because when they scream they'll just annoy the neighbors and not you.
They might even wander into the neighbor's yard and then, like illegal aliens crossing the boarder, they'll be able to stay and live at their house instead of yours.
There's noise, and there's noise.
And then there's having four boys.
When you have four sons you will read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in December and you will empathize with the Grinch.
After all, all the guy wanted was a little peace and quiet.
Who can't relate?
Don't get me wrong, I love Legos. They're so open ended. Except when they're not. Which is all the time because your kid (like mine) doesn't want a bucket of generic Lego bricks (notice there are only two of those options on the Lego website, it's like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Legos, there's the bucket. And the big bucket). No, you're kids wants the Battle of the Five Armies from the Lego Lord of the Rings collection. He wants it because a) it's cool and b) because it's $59.99 and he's savvy enough to know that you won't shell out $399.99 for the Lego Death Star from the Lego Star Wars collection. But don't think you're done after Battle of the Five Armies. There are many more sets in the LOTR Lego collection and you have to buy a multitude of them in order to get all the characters in the fellowship. You didn't think Lego would be stupid enough to put all eight of the main characters in one set did you? Just like Peter Jackson isn't stupid enough to shoot his whole Hobbit wad in just one movie. Then there's Gandalf the Gray and Gandalf the white. You'll need to have both. And the Lady of the Lake, don't forget your token female Tolkien character. You'll know you've reached the bottom of the parenting barrel when you find yourself sifting through the dusty contents of your vacuum clean bag looking for Gimli's sword. All of these Lego sets are different and must be kept separate from each other if you want your son or daughter to be able to make the tower of Orthanc or Hagrid's hut more than once. Kinda makes gluing the darn things together, like the villain in the Lego movie wanted to do, look pretty appealing. This means you'll need a special Lego room built on to your house to store your Lego collection when once families just needed a big plastic bin and one of those special tables with the green nubby tops. Designated Lego rooms will probably be the next big thing in home design, forget appliance-laden kitchens, swank laundry rooms and bathrooms larger than the three-bedroom ranch I grew up in. Despite the differences in the individual kits one universal truth remains: they all hurt like hell when you step on them in bare feet at midnight on your way to the bathroom.
Read my A-to-Z posts to see if you have what it takes to be the parent of four boys.