There is allegedly hair on the upper lip of my son. He insists it exists, that it’s there shading the space beneath his nose, looking gross and requiring removal. It must be the kind of mustache that you can only see at precisely midday at the summer solstice while looking through a sacred amulet from an alcove in an underground cavern illuminated by a ray of sunlight streaming through a hole in the ceiling cut by the breath of an angel, while the angel was doing yoga. Because the mustache is really hard to see.
I wouldn’t have even known to look for hair on Halen’s upper lip, but last week I couldn’t find my razor. I queried all the girls in the house, each of whom plausibly denied the heist. Finally, I searched Halen’s basement bathroom. And there was my razor, in plain sight beside the sink. He wasn’t even trying to hide it.
But why would he take it? He’s, like, ten years old or something. Does he feel he needs a weapon to defend himself from the alarmingly large spiders that sometimes sneak into the basement to eat children? Is he taking selfies for Instagram with this manly razor intended to mislead his followers — which include only his grandma and a small percentage of his cousins, who follow him solely out of loving pity — into thinking he’s more masculine than he really is?
So we had a confrontation. I demanded to know why he, my baby-faced son, had horked my razor. He claimed he has a mustache that must be culled. He claimed he is thirteen-and-a-half, has a deep voice, and that girls like him even though he thinks they’re gross. I consulted his birth certificate. He was telling the truth about his age. His voice actually is kind of deep, I have to admit. But I’m pretty sure girls don’t like him. And I KNOW there is no hair on his upper lip. He said that’s because he already shaved it off. That is actually a somewhat reasonable explanation. He isn’t always reasonable though.
I typed up a screen time contract a little while ago in an attempt to limit the amount of time he spends playing Fortnite (he is bordering on getting sponsored, I am told… by him). When he got home from school I cornered him in his bedroom. “I want you to go over this contract and sign it,” I barked.
“No,” he said.
I sort of stared at him.
“Minors can’t enter into contracts,” he calmly continued. “It’s illegal.”
I admirably controlled myself. “The contract isn’t intended to be legally binding. We’re not going to sue you with a lawyer if you violate it. We’re just going to ground the beejeebies out of you. Outside of court.”
He looked at me blankly. “You can’t, because contracts aren’t binding on minors.”
I silently counted to ten so that I wouldn’t throw his belligerent butt out the window. “Okay, you’re partially correct. Contracts intended to be used in courts of law aren’t binding on minors. But this contract is only intended to be binding within our family, not within the court system. So the rules that prevent minors from entering into contracts don’t apply in this case. Read the contract and sign it.” I was worried he would bring in a duress argument, but he must not have learned about that yet.
He relented and read it over. “I’ll verbally agree to it, but I won’t sign. It’s illegal.”
I had a choice to make: demand unconditional surrender, or be pragmatic. I went with pragmatism.
“Okay, but I’m taking your verbal agreement as the legal equivalent of a written signature.”
“Fine, okay,” he said.
I think I won that round?