Mom earns nervous tics from boys’ adventures

Burt's Eye View

It’s not that boys intend to irritate their parents. We just have gigantic imaginations overwhelming teeny tiny filters in our brains.

If a notion pops into our heads, we already are embarking on the adventure that will hereafter be known as “the incident” before any flicker of common sense can tackle us.

When my brothers and I were little, Mom would chuck us into the bathtub together.

This was before we switched to showers and I tried to invent the two-for-one-cleaning system. Eight-year-old me figured that both dishes and showers involved soap, running water and a scrubber. We wore crewcuts back then. Spinning cereal bowls atop bristly heads lathered in shampoo cleaned both dishes and hair.

Mom made me go back to the old boring way. After she stopped beating her head against the wall.

Once back in the bathtub days, we got hold of an empty dish soap bottle and invented the world’s first Super Soaker. After a while, it got boring blasting your brother out of a mound of bubbles from a mere two feet.

Then the fly buzzed across the bathroom. It landed on a light bulb by the bathroom mirror.

I aimed. I squeezed. A jet stream of bubble bath water whooshed across the room. Bull’s eye!

“Sssssssst. POW!”

The bulb disintegrated in a puff of smoke.

When Mom could breathe again, she screamed, “Burton William, what were you thinking?”

Thinking? A boy’s skill at annoying his parents is so finely honed that thinking has nothing to do with it.

Once when our friend James was visiting, just before lunchtime, we boys finally figured out how TV commercials were made: hidden cameras. When the TV people came across a family who gushed about the merits of a certain product, they put it on the air.

Mom called us to the table for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

James stared into a rooster wall hanging — (“They probably hid the camera lens in the bird’s eye,” he whispered) — and announced, “Mmm-mmmm. When I eat sandwiches, I always make sure it’s…” He fumbled for the peanut butter jar and spun it to read the label. “… Peter Pan peanut butter. It’s the best.”

I waved my sandwich at the rooster. A glob of jam splatted to the floor. “The best jelly in the whole wide world is…” I scratched my head with sticky fingers. “Mom, what brand is this?”

“Mine. I made it from the strawberries we picked in the spring. Now stop this nonsense. You’re driving me nuts …”

“My mom’s strawberry jelly,” I yelled at the rooster. “Buy it in stores now.”

“They don’t have your mom’s jam on store shelves,” James said.

“Do too! Don’t they, Mom?”

“Boys, inside voices …”

That’s when the table crashed to the floor. Peanut butter, jelly, bread, soup, napkins and glasses of milk exploded across the kitchen.

When the sugar bowl shower settled, my brother Tim held a corner of the table. “When our family eats,” he called up to the rooster, “we always eat at Dad’s Kitchen Tables. Dad’s. Get yours today.”

“Dad didn’t make this table.”

“Did too.”

“Mom …”


That’s how we came to star in a new line of hidden camera commercials featuring Comet, Spic and Span, Pine-Sol and Stanley mops and brooms. Perhaps you saw it. It was the one with the annoyed mom wimpering in the background.

— How did you annoy your parents? Swap truths and tall tales with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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