At the beginning of this year, I realized I didn't have enough chaos in my life, so I decided to become a big brother through Madison House. I went through a strict screening and interview process to make sure I was fit for the job.
Interviewer: Are you willing to be a brother?
Interviewer: Are you big?
Soon I was assigned an adorable 8-year-old named Ricky. I wondered what kind of screening process he went through.
Interviewer: Are you willing to look after and be fully responsible for a 21-year-old college student?
Interviewer: You do understand he can be quite immature and hyperactive at times?
Ricky: I understand. Just as long as he has 10 fingers and 10 toes, I'm sure I'll love him.
Interviewer: He has seven toes.
Ricky: Close enough.
Becoming a big brother was great until one day when my real, 18-year-old younger brother came to visit and noticed a picture of Ricky on my desk. He interrogated me for several hours until I eventually cracked and told him I was seeing other little brothers. He stormed out swearing we would never play Power Rangers again. Having a Madison House little brother was one of the most fun, fulfilling, exciting, carefree, rewarding experiences of my life . . . until I found out about the dog doo. It turns out there's a little known law of physics that small children playing any type of game outdoors will inevitably end up in some sort of dog doo. If you think about it, it makes sense. Where do children go to play? The park. Where do dogs go to "do their business?" The park. I'd like to meet the moron who decided these should be the two main functions of a park. "Yep, we'll have huge grassy areas for children of all ages to run around carelessly - and we can also use them as doggy bathrooms. It's just natural that dog poop and kids running around go hand-in-hand." Children will find ways to step in dog doo no matter what. Ricky and I will be halfway through a game of bowling, and he'll suddenly say, "Lee, I think I stepped in something." I'm like, "Where the heck did you get that?" I have a sneaking suspicion it's just a permanent fixture on his shoes. So far Ricky, his friends and I have had approximately 32 dog doo related incidents, only two of which were intentional. We're trying to break the record of 67 set in 1972. With any luck we'll make the SportsCenter highlight reel. Sometimes Ricky invites his friends along. His friends consist of a 13-year-old named Quentin, a nine-year-old named Erin, a 5-year-old named Cody and a 43-year-old who calls himself Jimmy the Platypus. Jimmy's a little strange, and we usually let him just play by himself. The rest of us usually play football. Playing football with a wide variety of young children is not like playing football in the traditional sense. Sure, it involves a football and a lot of running and screaming, but nowhere in traditional football does a third grader run 63 yards with a 5-year-old on his back attempting to gouge out his eyes. Well, maybe in Canadian football; I never have grasped the rules to that. After awhile the game disintegratesinto a new game tentatively called "Run Around Like Rabid Squirrels in Heat until You Careen into Somebody at Full Speed." Something else I've learned by being in the Big Brother program is that spitballs, in fact, can be a sport. The way it works is that whichever kid who finds a straw starts the game off by nailing his friend in the back of the head with a nasty gob of paper. The friend then retaliates by yelling "Hey!" and chasing the spitter. Soon the spitter reloads and fires another nasty ball of paper into the face of his friend, although the designation "friend" now is arguable. This process repeats until the players run out of paper, straws, spit or until someone starts crying. If you choose to become a big brother or sister, you will find yourself ordering a lot of pizza because evidently children between the ages of five and nine can consume more food than a Norwegian strong man during bulk-up season. Gumby's has created a new pizza especially for Ricky and his friends named "The Booger" (Cody picked the name), and it's so big it's manual transmission. One other thing I've learned about Ricky is that he's a big fan of dinosaurs and he knows more about them than most Paleontologists, at least the Paleontologists that haven't seen "Jurassic Park II." I happen to own that movie, and Ricky enjoys watching it on a 24-hour repeating cycle. In order to maintain my sanity, I may soon have to turn "The Lost World" into "The Lost Video Tape." Anyway, you should sign up to be a big sibling the next chance you get because it's fun, meaningful and I can now hit someone in the eye with a spitball at a length of 40 feet.