In the Summer it’s the mosquitoes, in the Spring it’s the house flies, and in the Fall it’s those big-ass spiders that emerge from the darkest recesses of your basement to traipse across the carpeted floor whenever you happen to be entertaining. You’d think that Winter would be clear of such nuisances but, in fact, ‘tis the season for perhaps the most annoying pest of all. What do you call ‘em again? They’re always buzzing around the house, making whining noises, emitting foul odors, complaining about the Christmas gifts you got them. Oh, yeah. Little boys.

Unlike little girls who tend toward a polite introspective calmness, these diminutive demons are discourteous, disruptive and destructive by nature, reveling in their delinquent achievements and various bodily functions. Unchecked, they’ll harass the house pet, obstruct the plumbing, and generally find a way to access the hitherto most inaccessible item in the place be it that antique cup you put up on the high shelf, your father’s long-abandoned BB gun buried somewhere within the unfathomable depths of the crawlspace, or the personal contents of your top drawer nightstand.

Yes, they can be formidable little aggravations, but I’ve discovered that they can be dealt with given one’s willingness to implement the correct character-building exercises, little life-lessons to help steer them in the right development direction:

Exercise #1: Hide and Seek

Offer to play Hide and Seek. Have him go first, starting a countdown from 100 as he scurries off to conceal himself. Once you hit 75, you can stop counting as he is probably out of earshot. Feel free to turn on the t.v. and watch the football game. Anywhere from 5-25 minutes later, he’ll find his way back and complain at which point you congratulate him, explain that his hiding place was just “too good” and that you gave up but are willing to give it another try. Again start counting down from 100 as he scurries off. Repeat exercise. Eventually, he’ll catch on at which point you switch things up and offer to do the hiding. As he starts his countdown, slip outside, hop into your car and drive away. This is a good time to run some errands. Builds: Patience.

Exercise #2: Toilet Monster

Casually mention a story you saw on the news concerning yet another person attacked while sitting on their toilet. Explain how more and more pet snakes, flushed away by irresponsible owners as babies, grow up in the sewers and eventually attempt to make their way back up the system to their presumed homes, encountering many an unwary sitter along the way. Play up the swiftness and unexpectedness of the attacks, the various horrifying injuries. Perhaps throw in a personal anecdote (“Remember cousin Eric? Wonder why he’s not here today?). Then, wish him good luck on his next toilet visit. Builds: Prudence.

Exercise #3: Sneeze Face

Run tap water on your hand and wait for your victim to start mouthing off or attempt to blow you a raspberry. Then, feign a humongous sneeze, simultaneously flicking the water off your hand directly into his face and hopefully open mouth. Nothing elicits such a wonderfully panicked expression. Builds: Awareness of proper hygiene.

Exercise #4: Ice Cream Sandwich Challenge

Bet him he can’t eat 12 ice cream sandwiches in one sitting. The trick with this one is to avoid unwanted parently interference. Builds: Stamina.

Exercise #5: Basement Scare

Ask him if he’d like to watch a DVD. Start the movie, turn off the lights, and leave. Approximately 30 minutes later, creep back downstairs and start flicking the lights on and off, screaming “Monster in the basement!”, before turning the light back off and bounding up the stairs. Guaranteed he won’t be far behind you. Builds: Courage.

Exercise #6: Present for Mommy

Tell them how much his mommy loved a particular dessert and propose he surprise her by bringing her home a piece. Of course, for it to be a true surprise, mom can’t see him sneaking the dessert, so he’ll need a clever hiding place for transport. Suggest her purse. Builds: Ingenuity.

Exercise #7: Story Time

Offer to read them a story. Choose from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies, or anything by Evelyn Waugh. Builds: An Appreciation of Literature.

Exercise #8: Stop Eating! Stop Eating!

Wait until he has just about finished eating his dessert, then make a big show of using a pair of tongs to fish a furtively planted lone raisin out of the bottom of the bowl, all the while yelling: “Stop eating! Stop eating! There’s a mouse poopy in the dessert!” Builds: Temperance.

Exercise #9: Noisiest Toy Wins

This one targets not so much the kid as it does his parents, forcing them into the rare position of disciplinarian (a role most parents are clearly uncomfortable with nowadays). Visit your local toy store and get the kid the noisiest toy in the place (usually one of those plastic gun that flash and wail, emitting bleeps, bloops, and high-pitched chirrups). Once he’s got the toy, sit back and watch the fun unfold. Try and guess who’ll crack first: mom or dad. Builds: Discipline.

Exercise #10: The Forsaken

Enter the basement and turn on the lights, interrupting his marathon gaming session. Adopt an expression of genuine bewilderment and ask: “What are you still doing here? Your mommy and daddy went home two hours ago!” Builds: Proper Time Management.

Despite mom’s disapproval, we decided to forgo leftovers tonight and headed to Bar B Barn, a Montreal institution and my wife’s favorite rib joint. While Fondy went for the half-rack, I opted for the chicken and rib combo. I found the rib sauce a little cloying, preferring a dry rub, but I liked the chicken (nice and moist). Accompanying the mains were some fine fries, a not-particularly memorable chicken gravy, the ubiquitous Spanish rice that, as far as I can tell, is only there for decorative purposes, a bun, and a solitary onion ring. On mom’s insistence, I’ve also included a pic of her excellent crab mousse.

4 thoughts on “December 26, 2006

  1. I confess to using several of those methods with my nephew (he’s nearly 4 and is already Satan’s prodigy) but I find the noisiest toy one the best. It’s his parents’ fault for bringing him into the world, therefore the punishment the rest of the world has to endure should be shared with them… 😀

  2. I am going through this sort of thing with my 3 y.o. Any advice for the upcoming holidays this year?

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