Sunday, October 26, 2014

Home alone

This past weekend, my husband and I did something we’ve never done before – left our teenagers home alone, for a whole, entire night.
What, are we crazy? Wasn’t that just like asking for it?
Why not just hang a sign at the corner with a big arrow pointing at our home: “Parent-free house, next right. Party starts now!”
The girls are old enough to stay home alone for one night, said Rational Mom.
Emotional Mom wasn’t sure. I immediately started imagining worst-case scenarios, ‘80s movie-style.
Remember that party scene in “Sixteen Candles” featuring an elaborate beer can pyramid, drunken haircut and the exchange student passed out on the front lawn?
Or what about “Home Alone” when the Bad Guys break into the house and Macaulay Culkin is forced to terrorize the would-be burglars?
And then there’s “Risky Business.” No words.
Before we left, Rational Mom sat the girls down for a little talk.
Don’t forget to lock the doors and feed the cat, I said.
Call us on our cellphones if you have any questions.
We’ll be back by lunch tomorrow.
Here’s $20 for a pizza.
Emotional Mom had a few other tips:
Don’t let anyone in the house. That may look like Grandma at the door, but ask for ID just in case.
Don’t use the oven, stove or microwave. Best to avoid using any hot water as well. Someone could get scalded.
No boys. NO. BOYS.
Lockdown? Not really. Think of it as more like an opportunity for “sisterly bonding.”
If anyone calls, answer the phone like this: “Sheriff Huffman’s house.” Then yell really loud, “Somebody let the Doberman Pinschers back inside. Time for their dinner!”
Don’t watch any scary movies on TV. I’ve pre-selected some family-friendly videos that you girls used to love to watch such as “101 Dalmatians,” “Lion King” and “Land Before Time.”
If the power goes out, do not light candles. Just sit quietly together until it comes back on. Pretend you’re living in the olden days.
Sensible Mom figured the girls wouldn’t go wild while we were gone. She was also expecting tattletales. Normally, I discourage them. But for this overnight vacation, I was counting on the tattletales to tell all. They won’t be able to resist, I figured.
I thought for sure we’d get at least one or two calls from one sister complaining about another sister hogging the remote or eating all the ice cream. But no.
We didn’t hear a peep, which Emotional Mom was sure meant that they’d fallen comatose due to Radon poisoning or some other lethal gas leak.
We got home the next day to find all Huffman teenagers conscious. No one had fallen, broken an arm or burned herself. The trash can was not filled with empty beer bottles. All pets were accounted for and alive.
How’d it go? I said.
The oldest gave a snort.
You just assumed the worst, she said.
No I didn’t, said Rational Mom.
I did, said Emotional Mom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tiny life

Have you seen the TV show “Tiny House Nation”? It’s a show where “less is more” advocates help people move from Large Homes into Tiny Houses.
According to the host of the show, many tiny houses feature no more than 300 square feet of living space, are built on wheels and include a composting toilet.
A composting what?
To this mom, a toilet should whisk away everything the family deposits into it quickly and cleanly. Let that waste go far, far away, leaving only a faint whiff of piƱa colada-scented air freshener behind.
Where does the poop go after using a composting toilet?
The host of “Tiny House Nation” enthusiastically described pouring cupsful of peat moss into the composting toilet. Then you turn a crank to mix the two.
And whose job is it to open the peat moss potty and clean it out? Can you hire a Tiny House Cleaner for that? Because there is no way I’m touching peat-mossed poop. I don’t care how ecologically fabulous the compost is.
One episode featured a family with two teenagers moving into a tiny home with a single bathroom and two small bedroom loft spaces. For some reason the teenagers went along with this idea. Which made me wonder if they were impersonators, because I’ve never met a teenager who willingly downsized.
Their tiny home kitchen featured one dorm-sized fridge. Note to Tiny House builders: The correct mini fridge-to-teen ratio is more like three-to-one. As in, three fridges per each teen.
The tiny home did not include an oven, which made perfect sense. You don’t need a real oven to cook for teens. Their essential appliances are a toaster oven and microwave. Both, along with a 48-pack of Hot Pockets, will keep a teen fed for weeks. Throw in a few cases of Pop Tarts and they’re good to go.
The builders also created a desk for one teen in his new loft area where he was shown “sitting” at the desk “doing homework.” Again, I am suspicious.
Presented with a new desk and well-lit task light, no teen has ever actually used it. Instead, they’ll sit on the couch in the living room, next to the TV, in the dark, and complain that it is too loud in this room and would people please stop talking because I have a Social Studies test worth 85 percent of my grade tomorrow.
Another red flag about this tiny house: The teen loft didn’t have a door. A teenage girl won’t change as much as her socks without a door locked and deadbolted behind her. Those who dare to interrupt the process will be greeted by an ear-splitting: “I’M CHANGING IN HERE!”
A tiny house wouldn’t work for us parents but I have a better idea.
Our teens could move into the tiny house and have it all to themselves, including the composting toilet. I’ll even supply the peat moss.