The Iron Family

Tuesday, the day that marked our return to normalcy following the much-too-long weekend, was what some might call ‘a spectacular failure’.

It began with me waking up at 7.15am and squinting at the alarm clock. I decided I could close my eyes for a few more minutes since no one was awake just yet. The next time I opened my eyes, it was 8.15am. Which just so happens to be the same time the last ‘you’re-officially-late’ bell rings at school.

We were officially late for school. Despite giving the Gort a to-go breakfast: orange juice and a granola bar ingested whilst walking to school.

I had plans to catch up on the inactivity from the weekend, namely rewashing the load of washed towels that had sat inside the closed machine for three days straight.

And then the Hen came in from the backyard where he and Percy had been playing. He had a strange, possibly guilty, look on his face. ‘I drew on the table without paper,’ he announced.

It took me a few minutes to process this. He’s saying he took the markers outside without permission? No, I think he’s saying he drew on the table, outside

This warranted an investigation at the very least. So I ventured outside in my bare feet and sweat pants and discovered he had taken the markers outside and drawn upon the table his father had recently constructed.

My first thought was something like ‘oh well’. And my second thought was ‘we were going to paint the table, so maybe I could let the boys decorate the table with marker and paint over it afterwards.’

And my third thought was ‘rewarding a bad decision by letting the boy draw on furniture is probably bad parenting.’

So I quashed the art project idea and walked back inside the house. The quiet house because ‘someone’ had gone into the witness protection program. With much [stern] cajoling, he emerged. ‘Are you allowed to draw on furniture?’ He shook his head.  ‘Okay, you need to go tell Dad what you did.’ Because I’m winging this parenting thing and that seemed like a slightly more reasonable alternative to giving the boy a set of paints and letting him have at it with the picnic table.

So we walked downstairs to the professor’s basement hovel and the exchange went something like this. ‘What’s going on?’ Silence. ‘What did you do?’ Silence. ‘Would somebody please tell me what’s going on?’ ‘The Hen needs to tell you,’ I refused to enable the clam. ‘What happened?’ the professor tried again. Silence. ‘Why are you down here?’ ‘I don’t remember’.

So the Hen and I went back to the living room where he sat on the world’s most uncomfortable chair until he felt able and willing to speak to the professor about his wrongdoing.

‘I tell Daddy,’ he finally agreed after we sat and stared at one another for a while, (with me reminding him that he’d drawn on the table and he needed to tell the professor about it.)

We walked downstairs. ‘What did you do?’ Silence. ‘Why are you down here?’ Silence.

It’s fair to say our middle boy has a will of steel. The words ‘resolute’ and ‘immutable’ come to mind. We played the silence slash ‘I don’t know’ slash ‘I don’t remember’ game for nearly three hours.

And the kicker? He’d used washable markers. His little house-on-the-table was erased by the afternoon rain. The three hour stalemate was all in the name of…I don’t remember.

That evening, I put away the boys’ clean clothes while they tidied their room. I figured this would help us have a more auspicious start to the following day. Since the beds were made, and their books were stacked neatly, I decided to set out some clothes for them. In the off chance we were going to wake up late again. Jeans and a blue and red striped polo for the Gort. Jeans and a blue polo for the Hen.

‘Why did you pick out my outfit?’ the Gort barked. Outraged that I’d usurped his freedom of choice. ‘I’m just trying to get everything ready for tomorrow,’ I reasoned, ‘and you hardly wear that shirt and you look handsome in it.’

‘That shirt’s itchy,’ he complained, as if it was lined with cut grass or worse, hair, on the inside. ‘I’m not wearing it!’ he vowed.

‘I like my outfit,’ the Hen tried to best his brother. ‘I love all the shirts you buy me.’

Straight out of a Disney movie.

Morning arrived and I, curious, to see the extent of the Gort’s rebellion, discreetly inspected his clothing. He was wearing the jeans and shirt I’d selected, with a hooded sweatshirt over it.

When I returned from dropping him off at school, I found the Hen, dressed, dancing in the kitchen. He was wearing black fleece leggings with a blue and yellow striped shirt. Not the outfit I’d picked out for him.

‘What happened to the outfit I picked for you?’ I asked. ‘I didn’t see it,’ he obfuscated. ‘It was on your bed,’ I challenged. ‘I don’t like that outfit, I like this outfit.’

And the professor, standing in the kitchen observing the exchange, was doing his best not to laugh out loud. ‘So last night you went out of your way to upstage your brother, saying how much you liked the outfit I picked out for you, and then you don’t wear the outfit I picked out?’

I thought about the Gort dutifully wearing his ‘itchy’ shirt. ‘You have to wear the outfit,’ I told the Hen,’ it’s not fair that Gaga wore his and now you’re not wearing yours.’

So he obliged and put on his jeans and polo shirt instead.

And, when I went to pick up the Gort from school, I found he was wearing a maroon and grey striped shirt. I’d been bamboozled. ‘Where’s your red and blue shirt?’ I asked.

‘It’s in my backpack. I wore this shirt under it, but when I was in gym, I got really hot so I took the other one off.’

Boys 2 – Mom 0.


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