I’ve been trying to teach my teenage son to take on some responsibility. I told him he is a selfish person, but only in the way that he’s a typical teenager. He immediately tried to correct me because don’t I see that he drives his little brother home from school and so he can’t possibly be selfish because he does so much for the family?
I took a little time to inform him that he drives his brother in a car that his parents gave him, a car we fill with gas as the teen lounges on his bed and watches the large television on his bedroom wall.
And he’s all, “Yeah, I don’t cause any problems. You’re welcome.”
So I gave him a chore. He needed to mow the lawn.
He agreed that maybe, possibly, mowing the lawn could be something he could do to contribute. But the first time he went out to the backyard, he was there for only a minute before coming back inside.
“Can’t mow,” he said. “Bees.”
I rolled my eyes. This is the same kid I sent into the grocery store one day with the mission to buy milk, and he came back to the car empty-handed and said, “They don’t have any.”
Long story short, they had milk, of course they had milk, because it’s a GROCERY STORE.
OK, I get that he lives in oblivion. But someone has to mow the lawn. So I said, “Look, there are always going to be bees outside. You still have to mow the lawn.”
“But mom,” he said. “Bees.”
And I responded, “But son, nature. It happens.”
He went outside again, and lasted two minutes before he came back inside.
“Bees,” he said.
“Blah,” I responded, in the form of a sigh. “Fine. Let’s go out and see these *air quotes* bees.”
We went to the backyard, and on the fence there were two active hives, and after some study (which means I got bit) we determined they were yellow jackets.
Yellow jackets are meat eaters. They bite to feed on your flesh, not for any defensive measures.
So the oblivious kid had a point this time. But yellow jackets or no, the lawn needed to get mowed eventually.
Now, I’m all about appreciating nature. But I’m also about committing mass murder of yellow jackets. I went to Home Depot and bought a spray that guaranteed to annihilate them on contact, without mercy.
But then the guy I was seeing at the time said, “No. We don’t kill living things.”
And I said, “What do you mean ‘we’?”
And he said, “Let’s just let them know that they need to relocate.”
“How?” I asked.
“We’ll knock down their homes. And they will find a new place that isn’t here.”
He went outside, armed with a shovel, and knocked down the hives. Then he came running inside, because apparently he’d made the yellow jackets mad.
A couple of days later, new hives appeared. Three of them. The yellow jackets had not gotten the memo that they were not welcome. In fact, they had invited friends.
So, I did what any sane person would do. I sprayed them all and I got rid of the boyfriend.
Now, the backyard is littered with dead yellow jackets, my teenage son mows the lawn, and my Tinder profile includes the phrase, “Must be willing to murder yellow jackets.”
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.