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My teenagers ransack the house when I’m not looking

JOREN CULL/The Globe and Mail

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This morning I ate my breakfast off a paper towel and drank my coffee from a plastic beer cup left over from a picnic we went on three years ago. Add plenty of cream first: Plastic melts.

My spoon was from McDonalds. One of those good ones you get when you order a McFlurry. It was the last utensil in the drawer except for a corn sticker in the shape of a tiny ear of corn (very cute) and the bottom half of a garlic press. The four teens still living at home had no immediate use for either of these.

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I got lucky with the McFlurry spoon. When I found it I held it up to the morning sun and said to our dog, Buddy: "Look boy, the pubescents missed the McFlurry spoon!"

The drawback of eating with a McFlurry spoon is that the scoop doesn't really scoop, so you have to chase your food around a little, like when you're gooned and trying to eat a late-night dinner at Denny's.

If you're ever unfortunate enough to show up at dinnertime in my house, bring everything related to taking nourishment. Every plate, fork, knife, spoon, bowl, glass and cup is stashed in one of the kids' rooms. Some collecting dust, some fruit flies and all certainly collecting my mounting wrath. I am scared to get up in the morning. The teens rob me blind at night when I can no longer stay awake. They wait outside my bedroom door and, when the lights go out, like rats they ransack and take every razor, shampoo bottle, brush, towel and shiny thing I own.

Where they hide these items I don't know. Last week I found my very expensive four-blade Gillette razor lying underneath a pizza box in the laundry room. It was rusted, ruined beyond recognition, with some unusual-looking hairs matted to its underbelly. What body parts are being shaved in my house, and why?

Last month, and this was done on purpose, an almost-full bottle of shampoo was left in my shower and didn't move for three days. What luck? I finally got around to reading the label, curious as to why they would put a handsome border collie on a shampoo bottle. Turns out this particular shampoo controls fleas. Strategically, a brilliant move. "Pattonesque." You earned that one, kids.

There is no prize more sought after in our house than deodorant. Survival 101: The next time you notice a discarded deodorant stick in the garbage, retrieve it. You will see two small, leftover pockets of deodorant on either side of the centre stem. Carefully take your house key and pop the dime-size piece on one side. Grasp between thumb and index finger and spread gently into armpits. It may be a little clumpy, but if you remember not to raise your arms above your waist you're a winner all day. I've been fortunate enough to smell like Strawberry Splash from Victoria Secret the last two days.

We have a local homeless chap who cruises the streets with a shopping cart full of his stuff. He appears to be a morning person because I see him early every day, pushing his stuff down Shanata Boulevard toward the mall.

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Once he left his cart and stuff under Matt's Bait and Tackle awning for three days (he must have been out of town). It wasn't touched. On the fourth day, he picked up exactly where he left off. For me, this man is a god among mortals, and I almost waved to him yesterday morning. How does he do it?

When I get home from holidays I'm pretty stoked that the house is still there, because the teens have mentioned a few times they wouldn't mind moving.

My medical condition, yet to be recognized by any doctors' association, I call Calf Ring. It's the direct result of having to wear skintight tube socks instead of the ankle socks I buy by the dozen. When I confronted the teen boys about it last week, explaining in detail that either I could lose my feet or a blood clot could form, go straight to my heart and kill me, Zachary actually completed his first full sentence in two years: "Do you know what's for dinner, Dad?"

The twin girls, after I explained the blood clot scenario (I thought Lara was going to burst into tears), immediately said they would bus it to the mall and buy as many ankle socks as possible.

They arrived home six hours later after cleaning out a heavily-discounted makeup store and were good enough to highly recommend the new sushi joint across from Target. I was going to inquire if there was any change, but I figured they had that one covered. Ankle socks? Forget it.

The kids don't know it, but I practically invented the "in-home theft with impunity" philosophy.

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My two brothers are still asking about their childhood baseball gloves, favourite shirts and a girlfriend or two. But I may be outnumbered here. Kids are smarter these days, more bold and authority plays no role at all.

A gene or two from their mother hasn't impeded them, either. (She's the only one in the house I've seen with a twenty for two days in a row.) Sometimes, in desperation, my wife Lynn will send me to the grocery store with a list, knowing full well I won't come close to completing it.

Lately, as I'm returning the cart to get my quarter back, a whisper, louder every time, chants: "Just keep going, Brian. Just keep going."

Brian Bulmer lives in Port Moody, B.C.

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