It normally starts a few days before the weekend. One of my nephews will text Bar Mitzvahzilla, the message always the same: can you sleep over on Saturday night?
And then that's the end of my life and all my peace and tranquility for the week.
Once the invitation's been issued, Bar Mitzvahzilla goes through a complete transformation. He is single-minded, of implacable will, a heat-seeking missile with one target only: he must go to his cousins' house this weekend. This is for several reasons. There's the video game reason, there's the awesome violent movie reason, and there's the fact that in a household with no sensitive ten-year-old sister around who would be traumatized by three gigantic boys stalking her with knives clutched in their teeth, the boys can do anything they want to each other.
Husband and I look at each other wonderingly - why can't he be this driven about school work? As a matter of fact, if he wants an answer on whether he can go, we want an answer about whether he's brought up his grades. He brings us over to the computer, pulls up the school website and points proudly to math, which is a 79.3%. This is made up of an A on classwork, where he is watched like a hawk, and a D on homework, where he is on his own. The two scores average out, teetering at the edge of a B, something he's pretty proud of. Husband and I sigh but we say yes, he can go.
Then we start getting a little optimistic. After all, we're one kid down and one to go. We are almost Kid Free here. Bar Mitzvahzilla sleeping out, all we have to do is dump Daughter on one of our unwitting friends and we could - gulp - almost have a honeymoon night.
But not so fast there, fella.
Daughter is not going anywhere. She, too, has an implacable will and she's not budging an inch until she has to leave for college - and that's eight years away. She prefers her playdates at our house. There are no sleepovers, not her at her friends' houses or of them at ours - they are all perfectly matched chickens. Her best friend comes over for the evening.
So Bar Mitzvahzilla ends up across town at my sister's house. Husband and I? We go on a date with two ten-year-olds.
Do your children have implacable will? Are you getting the hints already of a will stronger than your own? Are you torn between admiring their inner tyrant and laying down the law?