Excerpt from a real-life conversation in the Grim Richard car, after all three children have been picked up from school:
First, some background. Julian the six year-old is, by nature, an instigator. In fact, if you ask Julian what he wants to do when he grows up, he does not answer that he wants to be a fireman or policeman.
No, he's got bigger things on his mind.
"I want to cuss and chew bubble gum."
I am not making this up.
Anyway, it's 3 in the afternoon on the way home from school. Nine year-old Gabriel has taken a break from peppering me with unanswerable questions about Star Wars. There is peace.
"Hey, I've got an idea," says Julian.
I brace myself.
"Why don't we get gloves and pick up all the dog poop in the backyard?"
In the rear-view mirror, I can actually see confused question marks floating above everyone's head. Except for Julian. He's smiling.
"And then once we all have a bag of poop...we can have a poop fight!"
All of the kids crack up. If you're under ten, this is like Nobel Prize-winning comedy material. This is comedy gold, a rich jambalaya of Cosby and Martin with a spicy dash of Kinison.
And then my little, sweet daughter Riley chimes in.
"Or we can have a water balloon fight!"
This, of course, kills the laughing.
I look in the rear-view mirror again and that's when I start laughing. Because four year-old Riley has an excited look on her face that says she's up for either one - poop fight or water ballon fight. It doesn't matter.
I have clearly failed as a parent.