Unpacking the two enormous boxes filled with china has been low on the priority list around here. But today, a little over a week after we schlepped our junk down the block, I decided to ‘seize the day’ and put away said china.
I enlisted my oldest to help me unwrap each piece and you’d have thought I’d invited him to tour a chocolate factory, such was his level of excitement. Sweet child of mine.
As I sat down in front of the cabinet with freshly unwrapped plate in hand, I noticed something. The top drawer of the cabinet had what appeared to be pock marks all over it. While the old cabinet certainly has its fair share of scratches here and there, I was quite certain that I’d never noticed these marks before.
Naturally, my first reaction was a dramatic one.
‘What on earth did those Russian movers do? I can’t believe they ruined my beautiful china cabinet!’
To be honest, it’s not my favorite piece of furniture – not even close. But I still didn’t want it to have marks all over it. Then slightly-more-rational Nicola stepped in.
‘We moved in over a week ago. I’ve looked at this cabinet several times since then. I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed damage like this by now.’
Maybe it wasn’t the movers?
So naturally my thoughts flew to defendant number 1, Jason. But as I couldn’t think of anything he’d done in the previous days that could bring about such catastrophe, I decided he wasn’t to blame.
Which left defendants 2 and 3: ‘les incompetents’.
‘What happened here?’ I inquired of my eldest – the one who can say more than ‘no’ emphatically.
‘I don’t know’ came his sure reply. ‘Did you do this,’ I asked him. ‘I don’t think so,’ he waffled, ‘maybe Henners did it.’
Entirely possible of course. I dropped the matter – for the moment. I’d have to ponder this case a bit more.
Upon closer inspection I realized the marks on the cabinet actually had more definition to them than I’d originally noticed. Without a doubt, they were of a vertical nature and could only have been made, deliberately, with a knife! Not from the china cabinet being dropped on a bed of gravel as I’d originally suspected. I suddenly had visions of either boy standing by the cabinet whittling away with a stray knife they’d found, while we were busy straining our backs lifting their junk. Jerks.
I changed my interrogation tactics.
‘Did you use a knife to make these marks?’ I inquired of boy child number one, who was devoting all of his energy to unwrapping china.
‘Um, yes’ he replied. ‘What kind of knife,’ I insisted – wondering if it was a steak knife or an ordinary one. ‘A silver one.’ Ah, ordinary kitchen knife.
‘When did you do this?’
‘Yesterday.’ Of course, the oldest boy child uses yesterday in the most liberal sense of the word. It could mean twenty four hours ago, or last Christmas. But, really, what did it matter. I had solved the whodunit portion of the crime. But that left….the punishment.
‘What do you think your punishment should be?’ I demanded, because, honestly I was out of clever ideas for how to punish graffiti artists.
‘Well, I’ll never ever do it again’ he solemnly swore. As if that was going to cut it.
It was clear to me he didn’t understand the meaning of the word punishment. ‘What can I do to you so you remember never to do this again?’ I tried to explain the concept. The puzzled look on his face led me to expand the statement: ‘should I spank you so you don’t do this again?’
‘No,’ he replied quickly – suddenly he ‘got’ it.
‘Maybe you could tickle me,’ he generously suggested.
I suppressed the urge to laugh out loud. ‘I don’t think tickling you is going to discourage you from doing this again in the future.’
So I did what ‘out-of-ideas’ mothers have been doing for centuries. ‘Wait until daddy comes home.’
Mr Johnson returned within twenty minutes. Destruction of property is more of a hot button issue for him than it is for me. I tend to get angrier over outright defiance and things like making messes for no reason whatsoever.
Mr Johnson walked through the door and I summoned him to the china cabinet, where I was still sitting on the floor unwrapping wretched plates and cups and saucers. ‘Notice anything different about the cabinet?’ I asked in a voice that made it clear: there was something to be noticed.
But, really, it’s pretty noticeable and it didn’t take him more than two seconds to spot the problem. After establishing the basics of the crime, Jason turned to his beloved oldest son and uttered yet another parental cliche: ‘what were you thinking?’
‘Maybe Henners set a bad example,’ Mr. G suggested. When all else fails – try to blame the younger brother? I wasn’t as successful at suppressing my snorting this time around – he’d caught me off-guard.
Well, Mr. Johnson didn’t have any fine punishment ideas either. So the matter has yet to be resolved. I surveyed some preschool moms for ideas. One suggested enlisting his help in fixing it – but I don’t even know what that would entail. We could basically try and hide the marks with shoe polish, but there is no undoing this. Another suggested taking away ‘computer time.’
What’s computer time?
So, the case is suspended until this evening.
Parenting can be ridiculous sometimes.