Tuesday, August 28, 2012

8 Year Olds (AKA Birth Control)

Yesterday, I stayed at work until 7:15pm so that a cub scout troop could tour the museum as a part of their meeting.

I should have known that mixing psychotic mutants rambunctious little boys with 200 year old antiques within a 176 year old house was probably a terrible not such a good idea.

They started to arrive one-by-one with their hostages parents. I should have known by the complete mental absence of the parents that these children would be bona fide hellions.

If there is one thing Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel have succeeded at, it is the disillusionment of our society into thinking that 8 year olds are:

1. clever
2. witty
3. in control of their own bodies
4. adept at adult conversation
5. humanoid


Two of them were chasing each other around, literally throwing themselves at one another, firing pretend finger guns. They then proceeded to argue about which one of them was indeed dead. "YOU are bleeding from your neck, because I blew off your face, you sorry mother effer!" This outburst was followed by maniacal laughter and a very decent pirouette (or jump-for-JOY!-I-murdered-you!).

The other arrival was running in circles, like a hamster but without the wheel, breathlessly chanting devil worship.

Are these kids on meth? They must crumble it in their Cinnamon Toast Crunch while their parents aren't looking. Sneaky beasts.

I retreated inside the house to escape the West-Nile-carrying mosquitoes and to await the arrival of the other spawn. I took that time to say a quick Prayer for safety. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil....

Five minutes later, they had all arrived. Seeing my pale face staring at them from the front window, they all simultaneously broke into a gallop towards the house, the porch of which they reached in a singular jump from 6 feet below, like those Twilight kids. The grubby band then began pushing its weight against the front door.

I'm not entirely sure, but haven't you learned by 8 years old that doors with knobs tend to require the turning of the knob to open?

I stood inside working up the nerve to open the bulging door. I had to act fast, the hinges were creaking. I guess they figured that their combined weights paired with the energy from their spinning heads (a la The Exorcist) were no match for the nearly 200 year old door, which continued to hold strong. Suckers.

I braced myself, turned the knob, and pushed against the door to stop them all tumbling in on top of each other, which I am sure was exactly what they were hoping might happen. I gently released the door, held up my hands, palms facing out (that's less threatening to wild animals and rabid dogs, right?), and threatened them all to within an inch of their precious, young lives.

I swear I saw the parents taking notes.

I Google-d "8 year old boys". This is what I got.

Threats completed, I asked them to place their hands on their chests. One of them started reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, mechanically. The others joined in, all set to the tune of a funeral march. This was creepy.

"QUIET!" I shouted. "With your hand on your chest, say, 'hello'."

"HEEELLLOOOOOO," they all shouted in unison.


"Did you feel the vibrations from your chest in your hand?"

They nodded, strangely quiet. I am sure they were all thinking, What the EF is this crazy lady talking about?

(Of course, all 8 year olds cuss like a drunk Lindsay Lohan. Have you met one that doesn't? Honestly?)

"Now," I said, "look at the walls and the ceiling."

They looked around. Did they actually look vulnerable, a bit nervous, I thought. I was getting to them!

I continued, "The walls are made of plaster, which is basically dried mud. The vibrations from your loud voices will cause the plaster to crack."

I finally had their full attentions. They silently observed the walls.

"If the walls start to crack from you being too loud, the ceiling could fall down on us."

"And kill us?" One of them asked.

"Exactly," I said.

The parents' faces shone with admiration for my excellent scare tactics. Well done, their smiles said to me, well done.

I then tried to actually instill a few interesting facts into their ice-filled brains.

"The architecture of the house is based on ancient Greek temples; notice the columns."
"See how big the windows are? There was no electricity back then. They had to take advantage of sunlight and even moonlight at night."
"There is no kitchen in the house. Meals were cooked in a separate building for fear of fire and to keep the house from getting hot."

"Any questions?" I am an idiot.

A million little, dirt-stained claws shot up into the air. "Mee, me, me." "I do, I dooooo, I do-do." Snickers from the bunch of them for that clever quip.

"Are there ghosts?" "Is it haunted?" One little jerk even claimed to "feel" something like a "presence" (his word!) in the general vicinity of his forehead, which he indicated with a flourish of his hand. I resisted the very strong urge to thump him soundly between the eyes.

"Has anyone died in here," was the most popular question.

One kid, so determined to make himself heard, jumped up and with a heavy landing that shook the window panes and made me clutch the door frame in case the floor gave way, bellowed, "HAVE LOTS OF PEOPLE DIED IN THIS HOUSE?!?!?!?!"

"YEAH, yeah, yeah." "Has anyone!??!" "Has anyone died in this spo-oky house?"

I took a deep breath, bent forward to their level and met every pair of beady eyes with my own.

"Yes, lots and lots of 8 year olds. Next question."

Funny, there were no more questions.

The tour continued. The next two rooms were pretty easy. They thankfully hadn't broken anything. They didn't even try to touch anything! Strangely, unnaturally, I could feel my heart beginning to thaw towards them.

And then.

And then, the troop leader's very own son--the one who felt the "presence" (little drama queen)--proceeded to hike up his leg and fart right as I was gaining the attention of his fellow scouts as I explained the lack of indoor plumbing. Poetic, right?

What did his mom, the said troop leader, do when her son released his dead soul amongst the living in the form of the foulest odor you have ever encountered? She let out a snort of laughter and ran out of the room.

It was then that I decided, SCREW it. The rest of the tour consisted of me telling them how unimportant children were to these early pioneers.

"And why did mommies and daddies have so many kids back then," I asked sweetly.

Blank stares.


One brave, blonde soul, who was actually kind of adorable, asked, "You mean like slaves? Kids were slaves?"


Cue witch cackle.

OK, maybe I was too quick to judge. I think I would love all 8 year olds, if they were as hilarious as the one who drew this picture of her sister at college.


I hope by the time I have an 8 year old, there are places to send them far, far away until they are once again suitable for human interaction.


*Editor's note: Most of this account has been slightly embellished. No 8 year olds were harmed in the making of this post.

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