House for Sale?


I often wonder if the antics of childhood are indicators of adult years.

During the summer of my 17th year, my parents were gone for around 10 weeks, leaving my 21 year old sister in charge of my 16 year old sister and me. Sibling rivalry not withstanding, we were able to survive without bodily harm to each other, but we did get rather creative with our spare time.

My grandfather died so Mother had spent several weeks with him in the hospital, my dad had a traveling job, and the three of us had summer jobs. I guess they thought, ‘What could go wrong?’  Now my folks were generally smarter than that, but I guess stress does funny things to one’s thinking.

Anyway, the three of us weren’t excited about mowing the lawn, or keeping house on a regular basis, so things went unattended for weeks at a time. And our parents kept promising they would return the next Tuesday or the following Friday or how about Wednesday of the 6th week. But, they didn’t make it, and the grass grew and the house, well, you get the picture.

My older sister’s frustration level was working overtime as she struggled to maintain control. The more frustrated she became, the madder she became, and the more creative she became.

One day she announced a plan.

“Let’s put a ‘for sale’ sign in our front yard, don’t mow the lawn, stuff all the mail back in the mailbox, move all the furniture to the back yard, and surprise Mom and Dad.”

Sounded like a plan to us, so when we were assured the folks were going to arrive, we did clear the house of household belongings and hid as we anxiously awaited their arrival.

You know how an empty house echoes? Well, that’s what our house did when Mother and Dad walked in and kept saying, “This is a joke. This has got to be a joke, please let this be a joke.”  That was right before one of them said, “I’m going to kill those girls!”

We couldn’t stay hidden or quiet any longer and were just dancing with laughter, much to the relief and disgust of our parents. I have to say, moving the furniture back in was not nearly as fun as moving it out. And neither was mowing two months of yard growth.

But it did break the monotony of the summer for us, and kept Mom and Dad busy answering the phone from friends and neighbors wanting to know how much they wanted for the house.


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