Tireless teenage boys; the starter kit to lunacy and delirium.

I cannot count how many times I have had a gaggle of girls at my house for a weekend and the leftover results has been the usual scattered sleeping bags, towels and the heady, pervasive smell of nail polish after they’ve all gone home.

This last weekend, I have had a barrage of boys file through the house, and although I’m fairly sure there were only five or six teenagers in total, the result of their visit has been the depletion of all of my towels, all of my dishes, the food, bed linens, blankets, pillows, ice cubes, Q-tips (don’t ask), Band-Aids, cough drops, room spray, batteries, matches, gasoline, chlorine, anything chemically created that is often labeled with a skull and crossbones, all of the electricity our family was allotted to use for the month, and acetaminophen. The last entry was entirely depleted by me in trying to manage the depletion of everything else.

After they vacated, the house was also left with a heady, pervasive smell … of dirty socks.

It’s been a wholly different experience.

I rarely had to worry about the girls doing anything stupid or dangerous. I just had to make sure they would all leave as friends.

EVERYTHING the guys do is stupid and dangerous, and I just had to make sure they would all leave.

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Leaving alive was also a primary concern.

Girls spend a lot of time in bathrooms and bedrooms prettying themselves up, and helping one another do it, all in the name of self-confidence boosting.

Guys spend a lot of time—no matter what room of my house they’re in—tearing one another to shreds, all in the name of self-confidence bashing.

At least the girls have the snarky decency to bash one another behind their backs after they’ve all left.

Okay, that last statement might not be entirely true, because girls can whirl a barbed compliment and land it expertly in between the shoulder blades of any of their friends. And they can do it with the precision of a skilled marksman better than most hired guns trained in the fine art of assassination. It’s perspective.

Ultimately, I might as well forget about getting any work done.

With the girls, it was usually Come up and see how we’ve henna-ed one another with these flowery designs and geometric shapes. Except your daughter, who chose only to ink herself with math equations.

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That would usually lead to a lot of girl talk and then baking of cookies.

With the fellas the distractions were more like:

Where do you keep the superglue?

Can we have more towels? And maybe a few shovels?

How fast can an ambulance make it here?

No one ever asked me to come up and see ANYTHING.

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It’s better for all of us that way.

But it remains true that work is a luxury and realized in an odd grouping of ten seconds snatched here or there.

Apart from the face to face interruptions, which are plentiful, there is the cacophony of noises that draw my attention away from my words. Laughter is fine, giggling is good, thumping is nerve-wracking, but silence …

That is the scariest sound of all.

There are moments when I think the ceiling above me is barely holding the wannabe frat party from collapsing. I’m fairly certain that the vibration from the bass notes alone coming from the film score to the “Animal House Lite” reenactment upstairs can do some serious structural damage. If nothing else, the paint is peeling from the walls, but then again, there’s no need to dust the ceiling light fixtures this month. Again, perspective.

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But when there is no sound, when there is the absence of sound—especially right after a very large and earth shattering one—I hold my breath and count to ten. I mentally go through the list of first aid treatments I can capably do and calculate the distance to the nearest emergency room.

Then I think about drafting an apology letter to the parents of each boy and wonder what is the most tactful way of saying, “I did my best and realize now I should have hired an onsite paramedic and triage station for the living room. Whoops. My bad.”

In the end—at least for this particular episode—everyone made it out with injuries that are, according to the surgeon, non-life threatening, and supposedly will heal in such a way that will allow them to pursue the eventual dream of finding a wife and having a child.

That’s all one could ask for, right?

So I’m off to the shops to replenish my supplies—and then stopping off at the printer’s to whip up a little something for the next shindig to spontaneously combust at my house …

A waiver.



Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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73 thoughts on “Tireless teenage boys; the starter kit to lunacy and delirium.

  1. Even though I had a daughter, I did grow up with brothers, so I can relate to some of what you are saying. It is very different as the parent, though. Having just said goodbye to the daughter after a three day visit, I was in need of a laugh. Lump in throat, it’s a gravelly, rattling laugh, in attempt to soldier on. Maddening though they are at times, life is so… well… quiet, without them. X

    • Oh, Ardys. I mirror your misery, as mine is 3 1/2 weeks deep into a 6 week sojourn and I’m feeling like someone has sawed off one of my limbs. This is not a feeling I want to get used to, but fear I must. So I will take that lumpy, gravelly, rattling laugh as a sign that I too will muscle myself thru the muted stillness. One must laugh. Therefore, one must watch boys. xx

  2. How to Curb Sleepover Naughtiness

    Boys are easy: you collect all their smartphones at the beginning of the soiree and advise them, “You can pick them up again on your way out of my clean, neat, unfractured house tomorrow. Enjoy!” Second offense: stock the fridge with nothing but vegetables and seltzer water.

    Girls are easy: you take embarrassing photos of them drooling in their sleep, sans make up, and hold them in a password protected file as collateral until they graduate. There is never a second offense.

      • Well, this was only the evil route, using their ego against them, which is more fun. You can also enlist their ego as an ally.

        For the boys: take him aside every once in a while and seek his advice about something he knows like music, his favorite class subject, the rules of a sport, etc. Do it casually and honestly, like it’s no big deal, and he will feel ten feet tall. Going nuclear: ask his advice in front of his friends.

        For the girls: same thing but ask for her opinion about tweaking your outfit, the wording of a touchy email or comment you are about to send to someone, or what she thinks about how the older kids handle a specific topic of school social politics versus the younger ones. Going nuclear: mention in front of her friends that you passed along her advice about one of the above subjects to a girlfriend of yours and they used it and loved it.

    • After the fact, you can dine on those stories and everyone laughs along with you. “Ha, ha, yes I remember, oh good heavens, how funny.” But no one recalls the “cleanup thereafter” and the foul detritus that one keeps uncovering for days and weeks following the fun. Those memories are usually only uncovered in psychoanalysis years later.

    • Do you ever wonder, Janice, just how much money could have been saved if you’d simply locked the front door when the band of boys would show up and lean out from an upstairs window and shout, “Begone! This house is plagued with the pox!”?

  3. I had 2 sons, so I can definitely relate. At best teenage boys behave like complete knuckleheads with an appetite that would embarrass a hoard of marauding locusts. At worse they are felons in training. My 2 sons have daughters, until recently. My eldest and his wife now have twin boys. Boy is he in for some surprises.

  4. This really does make you wonder about the folks in academe who say that gender is all down to culture. Though no doubt there is the occasional girl who would rather be supergluing her tongue to a skateboard, and the occasional boy who really wants to experiment with glitter polish…

    • Good point, Linnet. Happily, I have more pictures of my son in his youth as a blissful fairy princess than I’ve had hot dinners, and my daughter is renowned for showing up to any formal event in a dress and combat boots. I like that my kids are comfortable with both sides of their closets and embrace going against the grain. Now if I could just get them to clean up those closets …

  5. Love it, especially the dirty socks.
    My nephews were playing upstairs when there was an almighty CRASH followed by total silence. Eventually the four year old came downstairs and told his mother that his brother had broken his f…..g wrist, promptly holding it up for all to see as it flopped uselessly when he flipped it with his other hand. No tears, no whining, just a bold expletive statement of fact.
    Sadly, the bed suffered a worse fate, as it was completely shattered from their sky diving off the wardrobe.

  6. Cruggs Shelley, you crack me up! This, amungst so many others to chose from, I believe, has to be one of your best writings! Brillamment erict!

    I absolutely love the playfully descriptive volleyed differances between the two genders. One, living the experiences of a cross between Greta Garbo and the ventures of a ladies finishing school… and the other, an intense study of the other sex attempting to live out the altruistic experiences relating between Darwinism and fatalism vs determinism.

    So, what did you go through more of; kleenex, hot water and ice cream or floor boards, & your two years supply kit of gauze sponges, Telfa adhesive dressings, tripple antibiotic ointment and Coban wraps? As for your Whole Foods pantry that once was, well, I don’t think that’s a gender thing as more of an act of youth and stomachs that seem to have no bottom.

    I aspire to your ability of mental aptitude, stable or not… at least you are amazingly able to put on a good facade.

    Much love,

    Stoshu 🙂

    Post script, Rob… your work continues to bring tears to my eyes and after reading Shelley’s words, I have to go rehydrate.

    • Jeepers, buddy, your comment is a pure daymaker. Plus I’ve found a couple new words I aim to put to good use.
      You just wait. Your time’s a comin’. Prepare now, I advise. Or build yourself a little ice-fishing shack out back for escape when needed. And stock up on spa certificates for the good lady wife. The time to plan is NOW.

  7. Wonderful hilarious read! ! These stories always confirm my choice to not have children. I love the stories, however wouldn’t survive the actual event. Remember you mentioned the large noise followed by silence? That’s what I would do to end the craziness! ! Ha! 😂😈

    • That’s funny … and probably a good idea.
      And I never really gave any thought to the possibility that my blog could be used as a form of contraception. I may have to rethink my brand advertising blueprint.

  8. When the teenaged boy goes away to college, never ever go visit his dorm room or, worse still, his rental house. Your eyes can’t unsee that. Your nose can’t unsmell that. Trust.

    • Nancy, that is a first class description and warning I firmly believe we should all heed. Thank you for the heads up on this one. I do believe it will apply for the young lady I’m sending off this fall as well. In fact, probably more so. I’m guessing within a short amount of time I will find out that she will be living in a “single” dorm room.

  9. Nice one, Shelley! I’ve been told that teenagers are as bad as toddlers (if not worse), and here’s the hilarious proof! I am very familiar with the dangers of silence….either someone’s up to something and you need to save the day, or you have finally gotten some alone time and you suddenly miss having to save the day. You can’t win! 😉

    • I’m with you, Sue. There’s no winning. I’ve grown accustomed to losing this particular battle. I just want to make sure I don’t grow accustomed to kids losing any particular limbs. 😛

  10. As I was reading this, I kept laughing to myself, prompting my snoozing dog to open one eye and give me a warning look to quiet down. When you described the massive depletion of household supplies, I imagined the boys coming through like a swarm of locusts (or maybe cartoon Tasmanian Devils). And you know, I’m not sure it will get better any time soon. At my last apartment, I lived beside two male college students. One night I heard them slamming each other into the wall–apparently they found this a great way to spend an otherwise uneventful Thursday evening. They also had a bad habit of leaving their door not only unlocked, but cracked open, so when I left for work in the morning, I had to worry if someone had broken in and done them harm, or if they were disoriented from throwing themselves into the walls and furniture and forgot to bolt the door. (Turns out it was the latter.) Glad you survived this little get-together, Shelley! What doesn’t kill us makes for great writing material. 🙂

    • I laugh when I think about this particular day, as all my writing was done in 10 second snatches. As soon as I’d sit to write a sentence there would be a shout, a cry, a crash, a boom. It was impossible. But it did make for a good chunk of words to share.
      I hope, Miranda, that you’re in a slightly more upscale local than your last digs. Hardly folks you’d want to borrow a cup of sugar from. But again, probably a few good stories could be penned from trying to figure out what was taking place on the other side of your wall.

  11. The smell!! So many great points to this post and I’m a little delirious right now, so I apologize if I’m not making much sense…. but yes. Yes, yes, yes!

    Though unfortunately my parents were gifted with two very un-feminine girls, so we ended up doing exactly the same stuff as the boys. All 6 of us… and we were there to stay. 😉

    • Six of you? Whoa. That is award worthy. Any parent who can survive the daily cacophonous noise of six kids have some impressive parenting qualities–or a well stocked liquor cabinet.
      Is that why you moved so far away? To get some peace and quiet? 😛

  12. My daughter doesn’t seem to be into sleepovers, for which I am more than a tad grateful, but I fully recognise the description of the male version. Last time we ended up with a key broken in the lock of our door, amongst other things.

    In the end we decided that not knowing was probably just as well, but we did buy up the town stock of pizza and feed it to them early in the evening. The thought was that if they were weighed down with food it might keep them from getting up to too much.

    With the two boys now at university I can endorse the view that you absolutely do NOT want to see how they live when away from home. How they don’t die from some horrible hygiene-related disease beats me. They must be made of strong stuff.

    • Oh, Laura, I have this vision of each university coming into all dorm rooms at the end of the year with a massive hose, spraying down the room with industrial strength disinfectant–possibly having a mattress burning bonfire and quarantining it off from the rest of the townsfolk. I shiver to think of it.
      And I think you’re right. I should probably serve a lot more heavy, sedating carbohydrates next time around. (I can’t believe I’m envisioning another next time around.)

  13. Ahhh … just wait til they get to college … away from most constraints … yep … it can get worse … LOL … this is my 22nd year as a engineering professor at VMI … and everything you described continues to happen in the halls of higher education … usually on a daily basis … and … the smell … well, it never totally goes away. Thanks for the laughter! Gary
    p.s. you are so right about “silence” … that is usually bad … the survivors are quietly contemplating the most believable story with the least liability to be told …

    • Ha! Gary, you’ve now illuminated what was a tad foggy in my head as to what the lads were doing up there when it became eerily quiet. This might be a case where ignorance is bliss.
      Thanks for the professorial viewpoint. I must guess that you either have a heart of gold to stick with the program for so long, or the pay is unbeatable. Either way, I’m guessing they’re lucky to have you. Cheers!

  14. Have we had the same boys to stay? I’m still reeling from the time they decided to go down the slide on a picnic chair – which launched them into a chain link fence. And those sweaty socks – have you got a lone black one, with ‘Lambretta’ printed round the top? Just asking.

    • Egads, Elaine! A chain link fence? It can’t be the same collection of fellas, as mine all still had faces.
      And the word “launch” brings back so many nail-biting memories. One of them actually built a large trebuchet in the back yard. I made sure to keep the hound close to me lest he was looked at as feasible launch material.
      As far as the sock goes, I’ll check my singles drawer–stuffed to the brim. I’m planning a good old fashioned puppet show I think. 😛

  15. You nailed it! Silence was the worst…super scary! Not to mention the grocery bills. My boys and their friends were like a school of piranhas that swept through the kitchen and completely stripped it of an entire week’s groceries in an hour.

    Good luck toughening up your nerves of steel 🙂

  16. This too, shall pass, Mother, Thanks for the glimpse into the past. In my case the boys did everything you said, and then filmed it all. I’m the one who should have had a waiver. Before you know it you’ll be more worried about confining them, boys or girls, to your own property after 10:00P.M.!

    • Ah yes, the confinement issue. You’re right. At this point I still get to hear and see the aftermath of all the trouble. Within a short period of time, my youngest will have his license. And then all bets are off. Covert tracking devices are being installed as we speak–mums the word on that one though, ok? 😛

  17. So scary if you don’t have boys. By the time daughters date them and bring them home, they are past this stage (one would hope). I have no idea what a Q-tip is. Gee, it must be fun to do these group projects, though!

    • Q-tip–ear swab–but give it to a gang of boys and they will find unimaginable ways to injure one another with them. Seriously. It’s shocking.
      And somehow, Susan, they seem to put those dangerous boyish shenanigans away when visiting the houses of their girlfriends. But then they bring with them another whole kind of dangerous, don’t they? 😛

  18. My son and his friend are rattling around the house as I type this. I knew there was a reason I waited to read your hilarious and close-to-home post. I grew up as one of three girls, but gave birth to two boys, now teenagers. I can attest to the racket, the chaos and the smell.

    Great post, Shelley!

    • Ah, so they’ve got the dial set to “rattle,” eh? The day is young, Alys. I say you dash out and get supplies while you can. And maybe a fifth of scotch while you’re at it–for crude disinfectant purposes only, of course. 😛

  19. Hahahaha…enjoyed your post, immensely, Shelley. 🙂

    I’ve had gaggles of geesettes and ganders through my house for yonks and I’ve found that while girls give the appearance of less chaos, it can be worse. *Recalls Poppet’s birthday party when ‘friend’ tipped red nail polish in upstairs WHITE bath* There were other disasters but I’ve blocked them! 😦

    • Oh, Lee-Anne, it’s a mighty good thing to block those memories, isn’t it? I find hard liquor helps immensely with that arduous process. Plus, depending on the cask strength, some of it can remove those stubborn stains. 😛

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