By RHONDA SCHROCK
It was a headline that caught my eye. “Where should vote centers be?” it read. And beneath in smaller print, this: “Parties agree on several locations, others still up in the air.”
“I’ll bet,” I thought to myself, wondering what else was up in the air. Epithets? Mud balls? Fresh cow pies? Anything was possible in politics. Anxious now, I dropped the glove box open, rummaging for the black umbrella in case I had to cross county lines for a sale on flip-flops at the mall.
Yup. There it was. Glory be, and pass the ammunition. I was covered when the next big one hit.
It was only the other day that I received a notice. It was Inspector Gadget who’d just returned from a sleep-over with his buddies. He was, I noted, somewhat south of happy. While the rest of them still frolicked and played, he’d been retrieved by an older sibling in order to help with a workday.
“None of my friends have as many chores as I do.” This was delivered in an adolescent monotone beneath a direct, blue-eyed gaze. The brows just above the clear, blue eyes shot up, wobbled and nearly crossed when I let go with a war whoop, high-fived myself and thumped my own back enthusiastically. Whatever he was expecting, it wasn’t that, and he plopped down, looking pale.
“Poor kids,” I wanted to say, “and lucky you.”
Oh, they didn’t feel lucky, that was sure. So far, our house hadn’t been designated as an official voting center for minors by Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents or the International Brotherhood of Trash Haulers. Not on issues like chores, bedtimes, curfews, etc. Here, the ruling class (i.e., the parents) set up the rules and guidelines for the smooth running of the household. And here, the children had done their share of protesting such injustice.
Before there was a Tea Party, there was a tea party. If you know what I mean. As I’d noted in the past, those kids could stage their version of Boston Harbor that quick.
We heard all the old standbys without which no childhood is complete. “All of my friends get to A, B and C,” they’d say. This could be anything from staying up all night to playing video games ‘til their eyeballs fell out to adopting a food pyramid made entirely of candy.
Then this, “None of my friends have to X, Y or Z.” This ran the gamut from “clean their rooms” to “take out the trash” to “lift a finger.” Having made their point with clever flip charts and graphs, the disgruntled colonists would rest their case.
Which is when the British (aka Local Authorities) would repeat the old standbys without which no parental career is ever complete. “If all of your friends jumped off of a cliff like little lemmings, would you jump, too?” And, “If you’re really that hungry, you can have seconds on broccoli.” And this: “I have a degree in slave driving from the University of Egypt. I can’t let it go to waste.”
If those staging the coup would pull a face or roll their eyes, we’d use one more. “Your face could freeze like that, you know.”
No, this wasn’t a vote center on hot-button issues. You had to draw your battle lines, parents did, because once you had more than two, you were outnumbered. And that’s when anarchy could break out.
In my family of origin, the count was 3-2. Three kids, two parents. But in Mr. Schrock’s family, it stood at 5-2, overwhelming odds in anyone’s book.
They were a pack, those five, having arrived in exactly six years. A little herd’s what they were, able to start a revolution at the drop of a cookie box. It was especially disconcerting when they revolted en masse in the back of the family station wagon. With no seat belt laws, things could go to a very hot place in a proverbial hand basket, and fast.
One Sunday when their dad was gone, things hit critical mass. To this day, certain details remain hazy, like what, exactly, occurred in the pews. The record’s clear, though, on what happened when they got home.
Their mother (strong woman, she) lined them up from oldest to youngest. One by one, five crestfallen hoodlums scuffed into the bedroom as though to the guillotine where the board of education met the seat of learning.
That was the day they learned that what was wickedly funny on a hard church bench wasn’t quite so hilarious when facing one’s mother. Their father learned he’d better stay home on the Sabbath, and their mother learned that she should’ve stuck with puppies.
OK. Not quite, but close. Real close.
Rhonda Schrock thanks her in-laws for voting to keep those kids. She’s fond of “the herd,” and that oldest one, especially.