And why I’m okay with it…

Ah yes, if ever there was a better time to bring up my “Real Life versus Fiction”, Lecture #879, I can’t think of one.

As a former latch-key kid myself, I had once or a thousand times promised my parents that my chores had been done AS SOON as I got home and beamed at my parents while breathing heavily from of course just having finished the chore seconds after they pulled into the driveway.

Ah, such sweet memories. Not unlike when I walked through the front door to a pristine living room. Kids big and small were at the front door, just waiting to give me hugs and welcome me home.

I looked around trying to see what it was they were hiding, which of course made Dominic hug me even harder. Given that he’s seven inches taller and had apparently forgotten to put deodorant on that morning, it was quite a hug.

Eventually disengaging myself, I gasped for air, dropped my backpack, kicked off my shoes, and headed for the kitchen to start dinner. It was in the kitchen that I found a flooded floor, courtesy the dishwasher. No, it’s not broken, but apparently we were out of dishwasher gel, so Dawn liquid soap was used instead. (Most definitely another lecture for another day.)

After a call for towels to mop up the soapy mess, I decided, perhaps a change of clothes before I start making dinner. So I rounded the corner and…..

… found that in their rush to take the dirty clothes out of the front bathroom, someone didn’t close the bathroom door completely and there sat one of our dogs, George, eating not one, but two rolls of toilet paper in the middle of the hallway. In a TP battle between the dog and the hallway, the 90-pound chow/lab/shepherd mix had clearly emerged the winner.

Oh – and the reason the living room looked so immaculate ? Not because they’d actually folded and put away the mountain of clothes that had built up on the sofa but because they’d just thrown them all on my bed (apparently, they were under the impression I would never go into my room again). So not only was my bed covered in clean clothes but they weren’t really all that clean anymore thanks to the other two, albeit smaller dogs, who at that moment, were rolling around on the top of Mount Laundry.

I turned, slowly, and looked at the kids. It was then that I noticed Justin’s swollen, puffy eye. Not using mommy-friendly language, I asked, “What the (heck) happened to your eye???”

You just KNOW it’s going to be a good story when Justin turns to Dominic and says, “Well, Mom, it’s funny you should ask… because it is a VERY interesting story…”

So I will make a very LONG and interesting story short for you. Apparently the reason the house wasn’t picked up when they first got home is that they sat down to watch cartoons. One of the cartoons had to do with some Samurai named Jack… or Joe… maybe John? In any case, one comment was made about who would be better with a Chinese Fighting Star, which lead to a challenge, which lead to a dare, which lead to a duel, which lead to Nick and Justin throwing DVDs at each other to see who had better aim.

As Justin is the one with a puffy eye, Dominic was declared the winner.

I say all that to tell you this; there is hope! Yes, I am THAT mom who will take a puffy eye as a win in parenting solely because instead of fighting, they AGREED on it! In an age when the boys seem to be battling one another incessantly (and I fear I really will have to ship one, if not both of them off to Timbucktu; a real place, I looked it up), there are moments of clarity when they remember that they like, sometimes even love each other. That they are brothers, not enemies – and excel at finding new ways to give me gray hair.

I’ll take those gray hairs, and the soapy kitchen floor, and the rolled on clothes, as long as it means for a brief moment in time, the boys remember how to agree on something. Even if it was the winner of a dubious DVD throwing, er, Chinese Fighting Star contest.

What about you.. can you think of a moment, regardless of circumstance, where your kids banded together? Where they worked as a team against a common enemy, even if that was you? And the bigger question..  have any of you actually put liquid soap in the dishwasher?

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Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.  Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler