Juice boxes, permanent markers, food coloring, and gum are their weapons of choice. If you have children living in your home, there will be stains that change your home's original color schemes to the color you get when you mix Cheerios with fruit punch. No matter how diligent you are in your fight against grime.
Yes, the artillery of children is formidable, but there are countermeasures you can take to secure the battle space. Here's a debriefing on one of my skirmishes…
At first, I tried direct orders laying down the law on just how things were going to work in my regiment.
"There will be NO juice on the carpet; NO eating food on the sofa (especially rations that are fluorescent orange in color); and ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO permanent markers allowed in the hands of anyone under the age of 40. Anyone caught breaking these laws will be subject to grounding, time-outs, and any other form of torture I happen to think up."
It wasn't five minutes after completing this little "pep talk" that I rounded the corner to the TV room and found one child tracing his hand with a black permanent marker while another looked on from her vantage point on the couch as she dipped her hand in a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
"FREEZE!" I yelled, causing the Flaming Cheeto offender to squeeze the juice box she was holding in the non-fluorescent-coated hand, squirting red liquid around her immediate area; while the young "artist" inadvertently drew a straight line right down his hand and onto the coffee table in his fright.
"WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE?!" I demanded, glaring at the guilty parties.
Silence, coupled with the "deer caught in headlights" look, was the only response.
I decided search and recovery was my only recourse, so I commenced my mission throwing out all remaining Cheetos (Flaming or otherwise) and recovered every permanent marker within a two-mile radius of our front door. I secured the goods in an undisclosed location and replaced any liquid of color with clear fluids.
A quick brush of my hands, and I was ready to move on to other duties.
Then I saw it. The cap. The tell-tale elongated bullet-shaped cap peeking out from under the sofa pillow. Apparently, I had made the tactical mistake of underestimating my adversaries.
I marched over to retrieve the smuggled goods from the sofa pillow and found the situation much worse than I had anticipated. The marker was attached to the sofa with gum and dried up pepperoni.
They may have won the battle, I thought, smiling slightly, but the war is far from over. It's the fight against grime, and I don't intend to lose.
Sure, they may be better at hiding their weapons of mass destruction than most terrorist factions, but I have age and wisdom on my side. I'm no Mensa candidate, but I have been known to outwit your average twelve-year-old on occasion. And it's not like I'm dealing with rocket scientists here. After all, they still get pretty excited when I tell them snipes are in season and have them start gathering bags for the big hunt.
Covert-operations will win this war. And as long as I keep walking into rooms and demanding that my children show me both hands at the same time when it appears they are hiding something behind their back, I have a fighting chance.
And victory will be mine.