This past Friday, the nine-year-old had his tenth birthday party. The boys met at the house before the mom took seven fifth graders go-karting. Within nine minutes, the screaming, sprinting mass of boys had successfully accomplished annihilation. Of everything. The five-year-old howled in a corner of the house because one of the boys had torn off her doll's head. I looked out the window to see the seven-year-old chasing after the fifth-graders shrieking and throwing rocks at them because they'd drawn in pen on the walls of the treehouse. Two of the boys were whimpering because they'd been attacked by two other boys who decided to be nine-year-old ninjas with nunchucks. I had seen one get conked on the head. Another boy foamed at the mouth with fury at being hit. I saw him wrestle a plastic sword from one of his friends before tearing past the window in pursuit of the ninjas. Another boy picked up a plastic child-size car to demonstrate his strength. When he threw it to further establish his prowess, it crashed into the concrete and one of the wheels dislodged. The five-year-old sank into sobbing hysterics because of the car wheel while still cradling her doll's decapitated head.
The three-year-old howled about his wet doodle. The baby cried because everyone within a twenty-foot radius of him was either bawling or running through the house rioting. The mom had tears in her eyes.
The mom had thought to meet at the house, feed the boys in ten minutes, and be out the door in fifteen. She managed to drive away fifteen minutes after they arrived. I walked through the house and yard holding Baby and trailed by the three, five, and seven-year-olds, all of whom sniveled or moaned their agony, two of whom sucked their thumbs.
We surveyed the wreckage. The mom had prepared an after-school snack for the boys of fruit salad, mini hot dogs, popcorn, cookies, and juice. The food had been impeccably presented on plastic colored plates and lined up on the table for quick consumption. Kiwi chunks were in the seven-year-old's hair. Smashed popcorn bits and cookies were ground into the sandbox and the concrete. Juice slid down the house windows. Dolls were missing limbs. We played Find the Dolly Parts around the yard and house. We never located one of the arms. Flashlights had been disassembled. A swing had been dismantled. Balls were over fences and up trees. A kite had been torn into three pieces. Someone had dug a coffin-sized hole in the middle of the grass. Someone else had turned on the hose and drowned the plants across one side of the house. The seven-year-old's Skip It had been used as a bunny leash and tied around Thumper's head.
I mollified the harassed younger siblings by giving them ice cream. I then put on a movie and texted the mom moral support.
By the time the posse of the antichrist returned, I had given the younger kids baths, put them in their pajamas, and subdued them into food comas. It was 6:30pm.
Five of the six child bombers' parents were at the house waiting to pick them up when the mom pulled up in her tank of a car. The thank-you's were said, the exchanges were done, and the pre-teen forces of destruction were gone. The family was going to their beach house for the weekend and wanted to leave immediately. The dad arrived and I helped them load up the car and strap in the kids. As the car backed out of the driveway, one of the birthday boy's friends walked out of the house and stood beside me.
"Your parents never came to pick you up?" I asked.
I ran after the car waving my arms in the air and screaming like a madwoman. When the car stopped, the window rolled down, and I explained there was still a kid left, the mom asked if I could just take him home, as she wanted to get to the beach house.
When I walked the friend up to his house, a babysitter opened the door. I explained that nobody had come to pick him up from the party.
"Weird," she said. "The parents are at a party, and I'm watching the other two kids. This is my first time babysitting. I didn't even know there was a third one."