Free to good home: One pubescent boy

Project Gutenberg's Harper's Young People, March 9, 1880

By Laura Grimes

That headline was a perfectly innocent post on Facebook. How could I not? In the middle of the hot summer, after traveling long distances for two days, after having me all to himself for eons and then having to share me, after heat and humidity made sleeping tough, The Small Large Smelly Boy was, quite simply, in none too delicate terms, cranky. He wouldn’t quit pestering his brother. He wouldn’t quit pestering me. He refused to do a few simple chores. So I was happily ready to ship him to a new address, postage paid. Seemed easy enough.

I was completely unsupervised and I could barter with my children at will. Oops. Sorry. Typo. Try again. I could barter my children at will.

Mr. Scatter was out of town and mostly out of internet range. When he got back maybe he wouldn’t notice the house was a tad quieter.

The Small LSB didn’t have access to his computer anymore, thanks to a well-played Mommy Trump Card.

The Large Large Smelly Boy, in true teen fashion, refused to be seen on the same computer screen with me. He long ago stopped reading this blog. He long ago, in a little tizzy, defriended me on Facebook. Actually, he friended me, defriended me, friended me, defriended me, depending on his mood of the moment. He figured he had the upper hand. I figured I had carte blanche. Unchecked, imagine what I could write about him.

When I posted my innocent comment, at first I got a little friendly pushback from two friends telling me I couldn’t do that. Ethics, you think? It turned out they just didn’t want to be tempted to try the same thing. One was worried she would also throw in one cute 7-year-old sweetie pie who knows it all.

I’m sure they were just jealous that I had the idea first to get around the whole pesky legal issue of selling children by just offering to give my son away. But in a completely magnanimous act of generosity I told them I would let them know if I got any requests for a bulk shipment.

Pretty soon we were having a friendly game of poker with our children, only we didn’t bother to deal them in:

  • “I’ll see you and raise you one 16-year-old who, wonderfully folding his own laundry, just gleefully said, ‘A new record! One pair of underwear!’ ” (Not sure if the record was higher or lower, and didn’t want to ask.)
  • “I’ll throw in a 13-year-old going on 30! High hormones and lots of emotional conflict!”
  • “I will raise you one 23-year-old daughter and her mood changes and a 20-year-old daughter who thinks she is too good to be Facebook friends with her mom.”

Now we were starting to pass around the whiskey.

  • “My dad used to threaten to take us to the Kid Trading Center.”
  • “I’ve been threatening to sell mine to the gypsies for years and now I’ve missed my opportunity. I’m not sure even the gypsies would buy them. I’ve been thinking we should just all swap them around because have you ever noticed how other people always say how good they are? And you have to stand there and nod and smile while knowing the truth.”
  • “Thanks, but we’re all full up here.”
  • “I like the group giveaway thing with a bonus cute little girl.”
  • “Perhaps a free box in the front yard will do the trick. Sorta like the leftovers after a garage sale. We need a high-traffic area for maximum success. Any takers? Or perhaps we can take shifts in a Safeway parking lot.”
  • “My front yard is available. MUST clean up leftovers afterward.”

And then, just when the cigars were getting good and nubby, I figured out how to remedy the Irritating Pubescent Syndrome. Just like finding the right cream for an itch. All you have to do is acquire a 5-year-old for an extended period of time.

Full disclosure. Of course that’s not the whole story. Here’s the entire recipe to remedy Irritating Pubescent Syndrome, in case you want to make up your own cream:

  • 1 5-year-old
  • 20 pounds of potatoes
  • Assorted rusty nails, screws, washers and sharp pokey things (what’s childhood if you don’t get a tetanus shot now and then?)
  • 2 hammers
  • 2 needle-nose pliers
  • 2 wire cutters
  • Miles of masking tape
  • Miles of string
  • 1,000 toothpicks, round
  • 2 pounds of mini marshmallows
  • Multiple reams of paper, white
  • 1 can of multicolor Sharpies (bad parent moment, replaced with …)
  • 1 box of washable markers
  • 1 dining table, commandeered for a week (nail hole optional)
  • 1 large pile of Legos
  • 2 large boxes
  • 4 patio chairs
  • 5 large bedsheets (refusing several requests for more optional)
  • Multiple clothespins
  • 1 hose
  • 1 garden nozzle with multiple settings
  • 1 large tree
  • 1 swing
  • 1 long climbing rope
  • 1 large pile of dirt, complete with shovels, trucks and cardboard tubes
  • 1 large bathtub

Combine all ingredients. Mix for several days, interspersed with occasional trips to the park and gelato shop.

This recipe is so successful that when the pubescent boy and the 5-year-old were asked if they wanted to go to the zoo, they replied … honestly, this is exactly what they said and has not been edited for brevity or clarity … “No, thank you.”

Multiple Child Theory at work. One potato, two potato, three potato, four.

Of course this is the long, time-consuming, complex recipe, which involves a wee bit of parental supervision, but only during daily viewings of Chicken Run.* This is when we take advantage of important moments to teach the children all about the cocktail hour. We make dirty-little-secret martinis for the adults and not-so-dirty-little-secret-but-rather-fancy-chaste cocktails for the children. And we laugh our guts out at those wacky chickens trying to outsmart the farmer couple with the nasty chicken-pie machine.

The much simpler recipe only involves having children and more children, every few years or so. This is like a game of condom roulette, which should be played for entertainment only and not for investment purposes. Having a new batch of children every few years ensures a constantly rotating supply of play buddies.

Now, I know the age-old saying: A vagina is not a clown car.**

But I’m certain that’s just an old (mid)wives’ tale.

All that this involves is a little organization, some good timing and the true meaning of getting lucky. Willing husband optional. Now, our neighbors are really organized. They are so organized, in fact, that they had only girls.

With the organized neighbors’ help, I put the multiple child theory to work on a surprised Mr. Scatter recently. He popped out for a quick errand and when he came back, we had acquired another preschooler. He always wanted another girl.

Later in the day, he popped out for another quick errand. When he came back, we had acquired the preschooler’s baby sister as well.

Who knew quick errands could be so fecund? I was beginning to worry whether condoms came in the size of a small sedan. I always heard cars could be fertile territory, but that was a long time ago, before I had an apartment of my own.

The simple delights of toothpicks, marshmallows and a commandeered dining table.

I was so excited about my discovery of how to remedy Irritating Pubescent Syndrome that I went back to Facebook and shared the good news. I explained that it turned out it was my problem all along. Apparently, I just made the mistake of not having kids and more kids every few years or so. (Thud in background. Honey? … Honey?)***

Gotta run. Now I’m sharing this quick and easy recipe with the rest of you. Hope that helps! If anyone tries it, let me know how it goes.


* If more parental supervision were involved our dining table might not be enhanced with a nail hole now.

** Thanks to Rebekah for the great line. (When the Small LSB looked over my shoulder and saw that joke he gasped and slyly said, “You wrote ‘clown car.’ “)

*** Smelling salts, anyone?

This is a potato bug, which leaves behind ... potato chips.