With a deadline hanging over his head, the professor opted to spend his Saturday at the office instead of at the insane asylum.
I had visions of taking the boys on an ‘adventure’ (even though all they wanted to do was stay home and play) to compensate for my grouchy inattentiveness the previous days as I slogged through more editing work.
But first, I had to take a shower. (It had been a couple of days.) And the boys seemed not to be grating on each other’s nerves in the manner of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. ‘I can probably take a shower without someone killing someone else,’ I decided and left them to their own devices.
[I don’t say ‘killing’ lightly either, last week I found the Gort and a friend exiting the house to go ‘find out what happens when you hit a AA battery…with a hammer.’]
While showering, I marvelled at the quietness, the lack of screaming; the way the boys were playing by themselves.
‘Why couldn’t they have acted this way yesterday and the day before,’ I lamented, ‘it would have been so much easier to get work done.’
I got out of the shower and was about to walk to my room when I heard the Gort running upstairs. ‘Mom, it’s an emergency, there’s smoke coming out of the projector, come quick!’
My oldest tends towards the dramatic, so I wasn’t overly concerned as I made my way to the basement. I mean, when the projector is on, it casts a beam of light in which floating dust particles can be seen. Perhaps that was the ‘smoke’ of which he spoke?
And then I entered the basement.
I can’t remember now what I actually noticed first. The smell of burning/melting plastic. The smoke coming out of the (borrowed) projector. The (never-used-by-anyone) stove with a red-hot burner. The baby standing inches away, observing it all.
But it was clear the seven year old hadn’t exaggerated this time.
‘Everyone get out!’ I yelled as I scrambled around, turning off the stove, unplugging the projector, waving a towel around to trick the angry smoke detector. I propped open a basement window and opened the door to the outside.
I thought of the expense of replacing the projector, the absurdity of the situation. Haven’t we all gotten that email-forward about the crazy things boys do? Like hang a paint can from a ceiling fan before turning it….on? Whenever I read it, I think: thank goodness my boys aren’t like that.
And now, it turns out, they are!!
‘You guys are in SO much trouble,’ I bellowed when I finally returned to the living room. They looked at me and launched into a litany of ‘it wasn’t me’ and ‘Percy did it’ and ‘I was playing Lego at the table.’
And then I thought of the smoke and the baby and how I could be dealing with a lot worse than a noxious basement and a ruined projector. ‘This could have been a lot worse,’ I changed course, suddenly, ‘I’m just glad you guys are okay. We’ll figure out the rest.’
We stayed close to home the rest of the day, on account of the airing-of-the-toxicity and by late afternoon I needed to get out. We headed to Fish Creek Park for a two hour long session of meltdowns amid spectacular scenery.
Our outing concluded with the Gort walking head-first (whilst wearing his bike helmet) into my camera. Because my boys tend to look down or backwards when they walk. When I got to the car, I saw the lens cap was shattered. And if it wasn’t for the filter covering the lens (an ‘insurance policy’ the saleslady had cleverly dubbed it) my lens would have been damaged, too.
This morning, Percy decided to bus his breakfast dishes. He carried his juice-glass to the sink and set (threw) it down. Directly on top of one of his brothers’ glasses…..shattering it. It was not even 10 and they’d already broken something. When I looked down at my foot, before addressing the broken glass, I noticed a chunk of my toenail was – inexplicably – missing.
I suspect they’re responsible for that, too.
The professor watched a comedian’s stand-up routine on youtube several months ago. (Warning, bad language.) This particular guy is a father of girls. His nephew had come over to play one day and, his behavior caused the comedian to conclude boys and girls are very different. In his (sanitized) words: boys mess things up; girls are messed up.
I realize those all-girl households will be feeling the strain of adolescence-induced drama more severely than I. (In fact, I’m counting on this supposed phenomenon.)
But my house might not be standing by the time adolescence comes.