When they come in from shooting basketball, they smell like lemon balm - an intoxicatingly delightful scent, not to mention that it's an astonishing improvement for their shoes to smell like lemons instead of the way they usually smell. I can't even describe that smell, although the word wicked comes to mind.
Occasionally I look out the kitchen window and watch them play for a minute. The other day the agglomeration of boys ranged from seven years of age to fourteen. They were particularly aggressive on this day - they'd been to a neighbor's house and the poor, trusting Mom had allowed the kids full access to the refrigerator, in which the Dad's stash of Mountain Dew was kept. Nice and chilled. Full of mega-caffeine. "Here I am," it called to the bunch o boys. "D-r-i-n-k m-e-e-e-e."
So they did.
Alas, the barbaric basketball game. Holy cow, I thought. If I don't get some water in those kids to flush out that caffeine and sugar, they'll kill each other. Or gang up on some poor unsuspecting soul and mame him. Either way, it wasn't the way I envisioned the afternoon unfolding. I quickly fixed a gallon of cold, icy water, grabbed a stash of go-cups and headed outside.
"Boys, take a water break."
"Ok Mom, - QUIT it - just a sec - LET GO OF MY HAIR - and we'll be - I SAID QUIT IT! HAIR IS OFF LIMITS!" - right there."
Sheesh. Had someone not seen this gaggle of boys together before they would never believe they're a creative, polite, well-mannered group that gee-haws naturally.
Not this day. At times like this I find it unbelievably inconvenient that I don't have the ability to whistle. I do, however, possess lungs capable of hollering almost as loud as the storm siren. Or so I've been told.
"Scatter!" When you scream it while simultaneously cracking a six foot bull whip onto pavement, it is downright astounding how quickly a testosterone-caffeine-sugar filled group of boys come to attention. Bug eyes were just a bonus.
"You. Are. Da. MAN!"
"Yes, Samuel, yes I am. Now then. Each of you men-in-training to your own corner. Find your own spot and/or your own toy or game. No team sports or group play for thirty minutes AND four glasses of water each. When you've met those two criteria, you may reconvene. Any questions I thought not."
"Y'know this minty like stuff we step on all the time while we're playing ball?"
"Kin I pick a leaf er two and shove it down in my waw-tah?"
"Um, wait. Mizzez C?"
"Thur's this other stuff I step on sometimes - I mean I don't mean to step on it honest - but anyway it don't smell like lemons. It smells like my Gran's house at Thanksgiving. What's thet?"
"That's sage, Samuel. Would you like to take some home to your Mom?"
"No thanks. I hate the way my Gran's house smells at Thanksgiving."
I love boys. They're tough, sensitive, and oh so honest, all wrapped up in one big ball of - well, usually dirt.