Donn and I recently watched the movie “The Constant Gardener.” We borrowed it from friends, which is basically the only way to get movies around here—at least, if you want original instead of pirated versions, and also if you want versions that actually play the movie.

The plot, for those of you who missed it, concerns a drug company who tests its products on so-called “disposable people”—i.e. poor Africans who would “probably die anyway.” It’s immoral and cash-producing and the Evil Masterminds who do it and control the universe basically win at the end, although the movie ending is a little happier than the book version (and for once I didn’t mind).

My point is to say that sometimes, things start in Africa. They try things here that they couldn’t get away with elsewhere. And so, I want to warn you that the Pod People are taking over.

This weekend, Elliot and Abel came up with the wild idea of cleaning their room. Unprompted. On top of that, they actually cleaned it, instead of their usual push-things-to-the-side-and-come-for-approval method. They were running up and down the stairs with bag loads of trash. They got rid of things voluntarily. They emptied off shelves and put things back neatly. I didn’t even know they knew how. And that’s when I realized. These were not my children. They were clever imitations. They looked right, sounded right, smelled right—but the actions were not right.

Many mothers joke about how their kids never clean, how they can’t see the floor in their children’s rooms. Here, it is the sad truth, no exaggeration. But something like this has never happened before in the Nomad household. Ever. Obviously, Donn and I have done a stellar job, both genetically and by example, of passing on our own “organizational skills” to our children.

Ilsa, who was unaffected by the Pod People, announced that her room didn’t need cleaning. Afraid, I went to check, and discovered that not only could I not see the floor except in spots, but that the tide of “artwork” (i.e. paper junk) had risen as high as the bed, so that she could theoretically slide to the floor if she wanted.

I knew Elliot was back when he came up to me and gave me a big hug. “Wait till you see our room!” he announced. “It’s going to be one of the happiest days of your life! (pause) …except for maybe the day you got married or had kids.” He’s never quite grasped the idea of having perspective.

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