"Do you guys want Mom or Dad to go to prison?"
Both my kids stopped and looked down at me from the top of the stairs. They weren't sure if I was kidding or not. I didn't say anything, I just let it sit there for a moment. Not the toddler, though. His choice was clear. He chooses batman underwear. That was his choice when it came to the prison question. They were on his head and so thoughts of which parent should go to prison really didn't factor in that much.
I asked my kids this question because it is time to do our taxes, the great American ritual where you try not to screw up your life with the scrawl of a number. This takes great concentration because if you miscalculate 758392754 x Form 4321, and then take the my little pony deduction, you will not be getting any refund. Nope, instead, you will be spending 10 to 20 years in supermax because everyone knows that you don't do that with Form 4321. Doing your taxes is like taking a master's level physics test except you are a caveman and fire is still the most mysterious thing in your world.
It takes quiet to do taxes because how are you supposed to argue the merits of a 1099 with noise? It' can't be done. Pretty soon you will be working with a 1099-SA and not the 1099-G. That means it's back to supermax, and since you are fresh meat, you will have plenty of company to discuss the merits of form 1099-G.
The kids were supposed to be quiet while we were getting this done. They were supposed to be playing gently with each other. They were supposed to keep the underwear on the bottom of the toddler and not on his head. They have failed at all 3. Which is how it should be, I suppose. If there is another way that this goes, then I don't know it. I have never experienced quiet children. Is it weird? I bet it's weird.
10 minutes into taxes, as we were trying to decide what the C code in Box 12 meant, my daughter could be heard upstairs yelling at her brother. This triggered her brother to come downstairs and state that an octopus has no spine and that his sister is being mean. I threw a rolled up pair of socks at him.
Then the toddler came down for no particular reason. He wasn't riding the dog. This is always a win in my house. He screamed for a bit until I bribed him with couch candy to go back upstairs with his brother and sister, who were doing a bang up job of watching him. My daughter came down because she couldn't find the toddler. I pointed to the gross kid eating a smushed skittle on the bottom of the stairs.
This goes on for a good 30 minutes, and with each minute passing, I can feel my prison sentance growing longer. An error that surely would have resulted in probation has now compounded and I'm looking at life with Charles Manson as a roomie. I hear he tells great bed time stories.
At this point, I had it. It is obvious that I cannot run my house. That my little dictatorship has apparently turned into a democracy. So I called everyone down, the dog and undearwear on the head toddler, and posed the question to them.
Who would they prefer to go to prison? If mom goes to prison, then you will have to live on the street and she is the money bags. If I go to prison, they can probably stay in the house but will have to catch mice to eat since no one is going to cook for them.
This seemed to have finally shut them up. I sent them back upstairs and told them if they come down again, or let the toddler come down (underwear or not), then they would have to tell me who should go to prison. We could watch the old prison show OZ that was on HBO so they could know how to act when they came to visit one of their parents in the slammer. They would also learn why Daddy can't make eye contact with anyone anymore and that snitches get stiches.