My Kids Have Gone Feral This Summer

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 

I don’t know when my sons last had a bath. I know they’ve been in the pool every day for at least the past week, and I think that counts, since they’re five, seven, and nine, and no one has appreciable body odor or hair. Most of you probably find this horrifying and thinking that I’m a horrible parent. But my kids have gone totally feral this summer, so keep clutching your pearls, Carol: this is about to get a hell of a lot worse.

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Mostly because IDGAF.

Summer is wonderful. Summer’s the time for drippy popsicles and chlorine-red eyes and sprinklers. It’s also the time when your mother lets you sleep in nothing but underwear, because why the fuck not? It’s hot outside. It might be sort of feral, but my kids haven’t worn pajamas since April (summer starts early in the South). When bedtime rolls around, they just strip. Less laundry for me. Win-win.

They also get to run around in said underwear for a good portion of the day. I didn’t really set out to allow that. It just kind of happened. You know how your kids sit around in their pajamas all day? Well, my feral children don’t wear pajamas, so they end up sitting around in their underwear most of the day. I often applaud my 7-year-old’s initiative. He puts on pants sometimes.

My feral children got so attached to just wearing underwear that our only rule now is: you have to wear something in order to set foot outside. Yes, that includes the backyard. No, I don’t care if no one can see, you feral heathens. We have a set of morals and standards here, children. As bare-bones as they may be.

I mentioned the pool, and the pool basically serving as bathtime. There’s one big problem with that. All that diving and flipping and swimming dries there hair into something like Doc’s from Back to the Future. Unfortunately, they’re too feral to brush their own hair, and I’m too damn lazy to remember to bring a hairbrush to the pool. Therefore, my children frequently look like unkempt little demons running around in their underwear, at least at home. If we have to go to Target or something, I corral them, line them up, wet their hair, and slick it down. They whine and moan the entire time.

They’ve also collectively decided to eschew normal mealtimes. Which, whatever. Kids are gonna eat or kids are gonna not eat and it’s my job to put food in front of them, not force it down their throats. We have a snack basket full of healthy foods, and they’re free to eat from it whenever they choose. Unfortunately, “whenever you chose” has become “all the goddamn time, including fifteen minutes before your father says he has dinner ready.” The feral heathens feed themselves = win. The feral heathens do not eat the food we feed them = score one for the feral children.

Abigail Keenan/StockSnap

Basically, my kids spend their days running around outside without shirts on. They seem to have forgotten what shirts are and only wear them when we go to places that warn “No shirts, no shoes, no service.” I don’t really enforce the shirt thing. Why bother? They look so adorable without them. Plus they refuse to wear them.

Speaking of the whole “No shirts, no shoes” thing, they don’t like shoes very much either. They each seem to own one pair, no matter how many pairs I buy them. They can never actually locate them, especially the 5-year-old, and spend most of their time running around outside (at least in our yards and at the pool) without shoes on. The consequences of being feral: my 7-year-old has plantar’s warts. We’ve told them to wear shoes. Oh well. Natural consequences.

But there are other oh-so-fun things about being feral. They catch lizards and toads. Our guppies share space with tadpoles from my mother’s pond (which my 7-year-old will helpfully tell you are likely gray tree frog babies). There are other children at the pool to play with, and even the 5-year-old has learned to swim underwater this year. My 9-year-old can do a backwards dive. They climb trees and scrape themselves up and get their own Band-Aids and go outside to do it all over again. We hook up the sprinkler and buy them squirt guns. They scream and chase the dogs and scream some more and alarm the neighbors.

It’s good to be feral. Even in your underwear.

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