Kent and I are down to one child. The other three are technically adults and live away from home. Carolyn is twenty-four, a college graduate, soon to be married. Kurt is home from an L.D.S. mission to Brazil (see January 19, 2010 post The Foreign Language House), lives in an apartment with a bunch of guys, and attends B.Y.U. Jeff is currently serving a mission for the church in Germany.
That leaves Joel, our sixteen-year-old. And he has dreaded this.
"Joel!" I tell him. "It's going to be great! Just the three of us! We'll spoil you!"
"Oh yeah? How?" He knows we've never been indulgent parents. Nobody could ever accuse us of spoiling any of our children in the past.
"Well, we'll go out to eat more often now that there are only three of us, " I tell him.
He'd rather have his brothers in-house to wrestle with. They're at it constantly when they're together. A couple of weeks ago, Kurt came over to the house for a visit. I was working in the kitchen. I opened the pantry door and Joel was in there. He quickly put his finger to his lips before I could scream. I shut the door. He was carrying out a plan to attack Kurt. I don't know how long he was willing to wait in there. I guess he knows that one of the first things Kurt will do upon arrival at the house is look for something to eat.
"And we'll maybe go to a movie once in a while before it gets to the dollar theater!" I tell him.
He'd rather have a live-in ping pong partner. He and Jeff drove us crazy. Sometimes we had to tell them they couldn't play. Did you know ping pong is a violent sport? Jeff is the worst. He's a terrible winner and a terrible loser. He chased Joel and beat him with the paddles after every game.
And Joel misses that.
"Think about Christmas," I tell him. "The grown-up kids won't get as much."
It's no good. He misses his siblings. Even though he now occupies three bedrooms, he misses them. Three bedrooms. Really. This is the way he is being spoiled now that he's the only one left. Forget the dinners out and the movies. Three bedrooms. And not one of them is clean. He basically has a clothing bedroom, a sleeping bedroom and a school books bedroom. Although lately he's been sleeping in the clothing bedroom.
One day last week, Kent was looking for a pair of socks to wear.
"I don't have a single pair of dark socks clean," he told me.
"Well, I just did a dark load the other day." I was quick to defend my homemaking skills.
Then I had a thought. Joel, because he's generally not spoiled, does his own laundry. But he only washes what he needs. The rest stays on the floor in his clothing bedroom. I went in there. I found twenty-four of his father's dark socks around the room. You see, every Sunday morning when he gets dressed for church, Joel goes into our room for a pair of dress socks out of Kent's drawer. Then, when he takes them off, he throws them on the floor of his clothing bedroom. He doesn't wash them because he doesn't need them.One Sunday in a week. Twenty-four socks. That's three months of church socks on the floor of his clothing bedroom. Now when the other boys were living here and each taking a pair of dress socks out of Dad's drawer every Sunday, he never could have gotten away with it for three months.
The other night, while Joel was at basketball practice, Kent and I did a service project for him. We cleaned one of his rooms.
Has this kid got it made or what?