FLINT - If the government were smart it would hire my son Henry, who is 13, to negotiate treaties.
Henry: "Give up your nukes."
Iran: "Oh, for ... are you going to stand here and say please until I give in and say yes?"
Iran: "Argh, fine, whatever. Take them."
A similar negotiation is how I ended up with seven 12- and 13-year-olds in the house for a birthday sleep-over, even though it wasn't really his birthday. His birthday was actually a month earlier, but Henry, like all kids these days, believes that birthdays are extended weeks-long celebrations, not unlike Mardi Gras or Carnival, only without the beads, barfing and naked people. I fear for humanity when they reach college.
I shouldn't worry, though. They're really great kids, with the possible exception of their tendency to shout everything.
"HEY, HENRY, GOT ANY MORE ORANGE POP? I THINK I SEE A CLEAN SPOT ON THE CARPET THAT WE HAVEN'T SPILLED ANYTHING ON YET."
"HEY, HENRY, LET'S SEE IF WE CAN FLUSH YOUR SISTER'S TEDDY BEAR DOWN THE TOILET!''
"HEY, DAD, WHERE'S THE PLUNGER?"
I think they developed the shouting habit from trying to talk over the sound of video games, which they play at full volume, probably because they're trying to hear the game over the sound of their shouting.
Speaking of video games, I don't think it's any coincidence that the war against al-Qaeda started going really, really well immediately after we introduced remote-control drone aircraft to the Middle East. If there's a war skill this generation is profoundly good at it's using joysticks to blow stuff up while staring at video screens. That's gotta suck, though, if you're a terrorist, knowing that the drone of death circling overhead is being piloted by a former Mountain Dew addict who honed his skills playing "Battlefield 3."
Not that I'm criticizing this generation. I love this generation. In fact, I wish I were part of this generation, mostly because I'd like to stay up as late and eat as much as they do. Somehow you lose those skills as you age. I blame kids.
So here's what they ate: Three large bags of fried carbohydrate-based snacks, all of them neon orange, which was handy because you can't see orange dust on orange pop stains; three industrial-size bags of candy; four large pizzas; three liters of pop; one gallon of orange juice; one gallon of milk; a pound of bacon; a carton of eggs; a dozen donuts; and whatever else that wasn't nailed down, including, I think, the cat, not that I'm complaining.
They also stayed up until 3 a.m. glued to the Xbox, at which point I came downstairs and said in a firm parental voice, "Time for bed, you guys."
"WHAT'D YOUR DAD SAY?" one of them shouted.
"I DON'T KNOW," Henry replied, "BUT I THINK HE WANTS TO BUY US MORE PIZZA."
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.