Child #1

“Balthazar, honey — no! Don’t you dare touch that dry Cheerio that briefly made contact with the recently disinfected hardwood floor; that’s disgusting! I’ll say two Hail Marys and offer up an imploring prayer to Saint Timothy, the patron saint against intestinal disorders, and have faith that our Christian God will bestow His clemency upon your inexperienced bowels.”

Child #2

“No, no, no, Elron, it’s filthy under the auditing table. Stay away from that pile of half-crushed Gerber Mild Cheddar Lil’ Crunchies unless you want to endure another Purification Rundown with the next available Operating Thetan Level Eight priest. Don’t make me invoke the names of Xenu and the entire Galactic Confederacy!”

Child #3

“Oh, by the Eye of Horus — Chamomile, do not reach for that apple slice moist from your inadequate gumming until I can cover you in anointing oil and fully recite A Prayer To The Earth as Priestess Telluria taught me during the last quarter moon. My mastery of thaumaturgy is quite insufficient to ward off the evil spirits as Samhain approaches and the Veil Between the Worlds becomes ever so thin.”

Child #4

“I see your garbled point, Gertrudinus. That club cracker was only resting on top of the dirt by the park bench and not really in the dirt, so to speak. But to be on the safe side, let’s consult The Ninth Street Oracle — not the cross-eyed one on the corner with the purple headdress but the shrieky one in the alcove between the Metro PCS and the Tractor Supply Company — before we move forward with consuming that holiest of wafers.”

Child #5

(Beezbo ate a miniature tea cake he found near the drainage creek out back and was last seen chasing a rabbit into an open sewer pipe.)

Child #6

“As a rational man of science, I am 98% sure that negligible amount of stagnant water Nikola ladled into his sippy cup will not harm him in any way, or my name isn’t the Fourth Reincarnation of Doctor C. Everett Koop.”

Child #7

“Clydretta, that carrot stick isn’t going to dust itself off. Now make haste; we have just enough time to castrate grandpa and summon the Enchanting Orb before The Vessel of Soul Totality eclipses Earth and triggers The Final Demarcation of Man.”

Child #8

“Only one side of that bologna slice is covered with campfire ash, Perturbia; you know your five mothers and I didn’t teach you to waste food like that. Now roll it up, close your eyes and give it a good home while I finish dancing with these live copperheads in the worship tent.”

Child #9/5

(Beezbo returned to us through a mirror in the guest bathroom fundamentally a different child and therefore considered a new addition to the family named Cobalt. He immediately swiped some beard trimmings from around the basin and put them in his mouth; I hoisted him over my head and shouted the standard Voodoo Binding Spell To Ensure No Harm, beseeching Papa Legba to end his tricks and forestall the child’s final meeting with Gran Maître and whatever lies in the great beyond.)

Child #10

“Listen here, Cromio. Eating from a hole in the ground was good enough for our cave bear-worshipping ancestors and it’ll be a cold day in The Land of Painted Caves before I allow you to turn your nose up at such a delectable feast of unidentifiable viscera. Now go light a candle as your Mog-ur taught you at the last Summer Meeting, then pray to your totem that you live to see The Valley of Horses once more.”