A Grin at the End: Boys, oh boys, what a summer

September 2013 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

By Carl Sampson

Whew! I think we’ve just about made it through another summer.

Thank goodness for that. Summers wear me out but in a good way.

This year, we had all four of our boys at home, plus a random selection of cousins, friends, exchange students and others I never really did identify.

The ones who were working all had different shifts, so they were leaving, arriving, hanging out, sleeping and eating on different schedules.

The result was a slightly smaller version of Grand Central Station.

Seriously. I’d get up in the morning and find a couch occupied by someone I probably should have known.

Then I’d look out in the front and see a car or pickup truck with out-of-state license plates. If it was from Alaska, Washington state or Arizona — three major sources of relatives — I assumed it was OK.

If it was from somewhere else, I’d check IDs.

All of which is fine. I like people, and the more the merrier. If a relative or friend needs a place to hang out for a while, that’s all the better. As long as they don’t stay forever — I’m not a landlord — they are welcome.

When the beds and couches run out, we have plenty of floor space.

But having a constant stream of visitors can be a bit stressful — on the budget, if nothing else. The other day I took the boys shopping and we spent $288 on food.

Mind you, this wasn’t fancy-pants organic, sustainable, salmon-friendly, hormone-free food. This was hamburger, breakfast cereal, milk and eggs.

Yet it still cost an arm and a leg. I felt like I should stand on the freeway ramp with a sign: “Need food — and lots of it.”

The other day I took up a collection from the kids to pay for food. I figured they were all working, and I was paying the mortgage and utilities, so they should be able to chip in.

It actually worked out pretty well. I got to thinking about other pay-as-you-go ideas. Like in the laundry room. A coin-operated clothes washer and dryer would be just the ticket.

And why not rent the cars to the kids instead of lending them out? And how about coin-operated showers? I bet those 20-minute showers would soon be a thing of the past.

I could also charge for wi-fi access. It costs me plenty, so why not share the joy?

I don’t want to get carried away, though. I won’t put up parking meters in front of the house. But it’s a thought.

Now that the house has mostly emptied out — one kid’s off to grad school and two are off to college — things are a lot quieter around here. And cheaper. The food bill is a fraction of what it was during the summer. So’s the noise level. But the fun level is not nearly as high.

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