Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Appetites of Destruction

When our two sons get home from school each day, the first thing on their minds is food. With their ravenous appetites, one might think the boys attend a school with Ghandi as their principal. At any rate, the moment they walk in the door they make a beeline to the kitchen to rummage through the pantry and sack the refrigerator. And if something doesn’t tickle their fancy immediately, they turn to my wife with a look in their eyes that I could only describe as “wild”. They’re still young and considerably smaller than my wife, so she can handle them on her own at present. But in the back of her mind there’s a little voice saying, “Someday, they’re going to be bigger and taller than you – and there are two of them.” (At this point one might argue that we have bigger problems if my wife is hearing voices, but that’s another issue for another day.) At that very moment, she must find something that will satisfy them until their next feeding – because if she doesn’t act quickly, she’ll have to pick up a kitchen chair and keep them back with a whip while she finds large sides of beef to throw to them.
Quite often you see a story on the six o’clock news about a mountain lion taking a dip in someone’s pool and then walking off with some of the neighborhood pets (between its teeth or in its stomach). And every story seems to end the same way: “Well, Bob, Animal Control naturally had to put the creature down.” It had always seemed strange to me that this was the “natural” solution to the problem. That’s a bit of an extreme punishment for “trespassing” and “theft”, isn’t it?
Then, looking at my boys one afternoon as they were licking the chocolate frosting off their lips from an after-school snack, it dawned on me: Animal Control’s trying to “send a message” to the other animals out in the wild – you know, make an example out of these feral felons and put the fear of God in them. And if we don’t find a way to control our children’s appetites, we could be running into the same problem in our own homes.
I can see it now: a news story about a standoff in a quaint suburban town with helicopters buzzing overhead and police cars surrounding a modest three-bedroom house. With a very concerned look painted on her face (looking as though she’s either very serious or seriously constipated), the reporter will say, “The details are still coming in, but here’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far: an eight-year-old boy – who we believe lives three doors down – came home from school today to find his own pantry completely free of Twinkies, cup cakes, or any other snack food. It appears he eluded his mother who was trying to get him to eat a carrot and made his way into the home we’re standing in front of now. Preliminary reports have come in that the boy is currently into his second box of Pop Tarts, and he’s halfway through a two-liter bottle of soda – Mountain Dew, I believe. If the police can’t talk him out, we could be in for a long night – that sugar rush isn’t wearing off any time soon.”
I think we’re all beginning to see the enormity of the problem here: if this happens, we’ll have more than seemingly endless slow-motion car chases to interrupt our favorite television programs.

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