I'm not sure that washing dishes is good for my children. Sure, they're learning great lessons in terms of cleanliness and responsibility. It's the intellectual contamination that has me worried. KP spawns absolutely weird conversation here in Lilyville. Some while back I was called in to referee a debate about which animals are smarter - dogs or pigs. (That part is normal enough, I think. Most people don't really know - or don't want to know - that pigs are pretty darn smart. Wilbur and Lassie could go toe to toe (or hoof to paw) in an IQ test. But bacon is too yummy to have to eat with a side of guilt so we conveniently ignore the idea of smart pigs. To return to our muttons - or dogs and pigs...) After putting in my two cents, I went back to the library while they continued to argue loudly enough for me to hear. They debated which kind of smartness would make a better guard animal. How loyal are pigs? How trainable? How sneaky can they be? (Stealth pigs.) And how strong are they? Could they carry Uzi's?
Their conversation veered off from there. They began equipping different barnyard animal armies with various weaponry. Pretty soon they had chickens with grenades, cows with semi-automatics, and pigs with plastique. Nice, eh? This is apparently a game they are designing. There is a forest version too. It has upgrades with foxes, squirrels, frogs, and manatees. At that point I did have to butt in and point out that manatees do NOT live in the forest. "That's why it's an upgrade," they explained. Ahhhh. For a low, low extra charge you too can get the Manatees of Death!
Lest you think my children are merely bloodthirsty wackos, I must tell you that the next part of the conversation is worse! Zombies! (Naturally. It seems like every single darn conversation my children have these days includes at least a token mention of zombies.) Overheard:
Mayhem: Dude, zombie goats! We gotta have zombie goats.
Chaos: Goats? Naah, how about zombie weasels?
Mayhem: Dude, have you seen a zombie goat?! They're AWESOME!
(In my head, I'm thinking, "Dude, have you seen one? Because maybe we need to go to the doctor or something if you have.)
Ninja Princessa (not to be outdone): What about vampire cats? That would be better.
All three boys (shouting): NO VAMPIRES! No, we hate vampires! Vampires suck!
Gales of laughter. Finally Chaos gets a hold of himself enough to say, "Zombies only."
Mayhem: What about fish?
Chaos: Oh! Piranhas! Zombie piranhas!
Bug: How could you tell they were zombie fish as opposed to regular fish?
Mayhem: Dude, they'd try to eat your brain!
Bug: Piranhas already try to do that.
Chaos: Good point. No zombie fish.
Mayhem: I'm telling you. Zombie goats. They're awesome.
I have no idea what the eventual outcome was on which zombified animals got the nod. They had finished up their chores and carried the conversation upstairs. The kitchen was spic and span. I had absolutely nothing to complain about, except... zombie goats? It's just weird, man. I'm telling you. To make matters - well, not worse - just more public, this whole conversation happened on a night when Mayhem's best buddy, Justin, had stayed for supper after ultimate practice. When Jan came to get her son, she and I had such a nice talk. She's articulate and put together, but still down to earth. She has two sons (the youngest of whom is Mayhem's buddy). I think we could be friends - if she wasn't secretly put off by the zombie obsession my children are foisting off on those around them.
Jan: Thanks again for letting him stay. I thought his dad would be at practice or I never would have made a doctor's appointment.
Me: Oh, he was no trouble. Polite, fun, and he helped with the dishes even though I told him he didn't have to. We love having him.
Jan: That's great to hear. Wish he'd help me once in a while. (<- Said archly, eyebrows raised, looking down at her son.)
Justin: Well, I helped the kids. The kids do the dishes here.
Jan: Oh! Great tradition! Let's start that too.
Justin: Mom! It's no fun at our house. Here they have lots of kids and they talk about cool stuff.
Jan: We talk about cool stuff.
Justin: Mom, I mean really cool stuff. Like zombies. And manatee bombadiers.
Me: Zombies. Their favorite topic of conversation. I try not to worry about it. (I may have laughed in a nonchalant way at that point. Or perhaps it came out more as a worried chuckle.) Do your boys talk about zombies?
Jan: Not that I know of really.
Me: Ah. Hope it's ok with you.
Jan: You know, if it takes talk of the undead to get kids to cheerfully clean the kitchen, I'm all for it! You should write a book.
Don't you LOVE her? What should my book be called? Zombies Onboard? Parenting Teens The Undead Way? Peer Pressure: The Z Factor?