Chippewa Herald * December 27, 2007  

"Teenagers are God's gift to mankind"

Kids' Quotes are the basis of family Christmas newseltter

by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist

Beth and I sent out another "Arneberg Argus" a couple of weeks ago. That's the name of our slightly irregular family Christmas newsletter, in which we try to capture the essence of ordinary life in a hectic household of seven.

Throughout the year, every time we hear one of our kids say something funny or insightful, we write it down before we forget. Here are some of the entries from this year's issue, out of the mouths of Simon (now 7), David (11), Jasper (13), Alison (16), and Benjamin (18):

"This is the best art project EVER!" -- David, on his edible sugar-cube-and-frosting Christmas tree.

"Green Bay Packers." -- Simon, when asked why he was mixing his green peas with his yellow corn.

"I slept 10 hours, 42 minutes, and 16 seconds." -- Simon's wake-up announcement as he walked into his parents' bedroom. (He now sleeps wearing his beloved watch.)

"I don't, car..." -- Simon, displaying some long-term thinking when asked what he'd do with his recent Tooth Fairy profit. (Graduation is only twelve years away now!)

"This is war -- and I am going to reclaim territory." -- Beth's very serious warning about keeping kids' clutter off the kitchen island.

"Yeah, if I wanted to come home in a body bag." -- Ben, mildly exaggerating the fashion intolerance of his classmates when Dad asked if he wanted to drive Mighty Whitey, the slightly rusty -- okay, slightly non-rusty -- '85 Nova, to high school.

"I wish EVERY day was April Fools' Day!" -- David, after an April 1 Sunday afternoon filled with water spraying from the kitchen sink, salt in cups, soap on toothbrushes, plastic wrap on toilets, and squirting rings. (Beth has the opposite wish.)

"In ten minutes, I can wake you up." -- Simon, at 8:20 a.m., lounging around in Mom's bed the morning after the Viennese Ball.

"We're not doing anything wrong to our country." -- neighbor kid Mitchell Iverson, feeling a little guilty as a police car crept by the driveway while he and David and Simon were melting the heads off of plastic army guys with a magnifying glass. ("They were made in China," he explained.)

"Mom, you don't know how to sew, and Dad doesn't know how to golf. What are you going to do when you get old?" -- David.

"I don't like the actual chicken part." -- Alison, after lobbying hard for the deep-fried chicken with the thick coating from Bresina's take-out.

"Why does Jarrod have disco photos?!" -- Ben, misunderstanding Beth's comments that there was a disk of photos in the church mailbox.

"No, it means I don't HAVE TO go fishing any more." -- David, after catching a fish big enough to eat for the first time in his life. (Mom wanted to know if this meant he'd go fishing more often, while David saw it more as another life's goal now complete.)

"It was hard for them to be intimidating, especially when they had to look UP to yell at me." -- Ben, reflecting on some of the upperclassmen he met during his week at the Air Force Academy.

"Let's definitely NOT go to Valleyfair next week." -- Simon, 6/24/07, wanting to delay their trip until later in the summer in hopes that he would grow to the 48-inch threshold enabling him to do the scary rides.

"Oh, I thought it was for ALISON!" -- David, when Dad was showing him the new shut-off timer he bought for the garden hose. (EVERYONE is aware of the need to limit Alison's showers.)

"Here, Simon, use the 'self-esteem' balls." -- Jasper, watching his younger brother struggle to juggle in Itasca State Park. (The balls Jasper handed him were the ones that emit a highly obnoxious recorded mocking laugh every time they hit the ground.)

"Why is Ben so mad? It's actually a pretty good suitcase." -- Simon, 7/7/07, when Ben's suitcase finally arrived from New York City, NINE days after he did. (Only it was the WRONG SUITCASE.)

"I'm Katrina; you're FEMA." -- Ben, as he was creating a huge mess in the kitchen in the whirlwind of packing for his Mexico missions trip, while Beth was trying to stay ahead of the curve with cleanup efforts.

"That's a relief -- I was beginning to think I was just getting lazy." -- Ben, 8/8/07, after getting diagnosed with mono and bronchitis. (His summer so far was filled with trips to Colorado, New York, and Mexico, in between which he worked fulltime landscaping, ran "captain's practices" for tennis, helped with Boy Scout canoe trips, and generally ran at full speed from early morning to late at night every day.)

"The reception is your reward for sitting through the wedding." -- Ben, amazed that Mom would even consider going to the wedding and not the reception.

"Dad, you wouldn't have any lawn left." -- Simon's remarks when Tom wondered out loud whether he should spray Weed-B-Gone on the front lawn. (Yes, it's been another drought year.)

"Just about EVERYONE we listen to is dead." -- Jasper, at the dinner table while discussing Dad's choice of music on the family iPod piped through the whole-house stereo. (David had asked if the current singer was dead.)

"I'm going to try and save our family name." -- Ben's explanation for why he would NOT join Tom and the other kids while Alison played accordion live on WWIB radio.

"In two days you'll be able to buy rubber cement and White-out!" -- David to Ben, 10/26/07, commenting on Ben's new privileges when he turns 18.

"Teenagers are God's gift to mankind. Now we know what it's like to have someone created in our image...who denies our existence." -- from a sermon at Crescent Lake Bible Camp.

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