A local church kindly offers a four-day free soccer and basketball camp for children aged 6-12. Upon the recommendation of friends whose children participated last year, I signed up the two oldest Johnson boys for eight hours of fun away from home.
[Minor detail: the Hen is technically 4, but (a) the kid spends most days playing soccer with an eight year old and (b) he’ll be 5 at the end of next month and (c) I never have a third point, yet I always pretend I do.]
So, I figured he would be just fine playing soccer with a bunch of six-year-olds.
The Gort had been clamoring to try basketball. On his eighth birthday, he wrote out a few goals for the year and one of them was: try basketball. Four months later, voila: free basketball camp.
So we dropped off our boys on Tuesday morning and picked them up two hours later. ‘How was it?’ I asked my rather pale, sweaty red-faced eight year old. ‘It was awesome!’ he enthused. And I patted myself on the back because (a) perhaps he’d found his sports calling, (b) I’d expended zero dollars and (c) I never have a third point.
It was the pinnacle of our 13th day of summer, for after that everything went south. Far south.
We went to Costco, all five of us, because the cupboards were rather bare. Two of my boy-children were running through the store. One was rearranging the food displays (when he wasn’t trying to sit on them). It was somewhat horrific, and the professor – who already hates nothing more than going to Costco en famille– was ready to throttle all of us.
After the joy that was Costco we went to Sportchek. Because they’d charged the professor the wrong price for the Gort’s brand-new, training wheel-free bike. I decided to seize the opportunity to look at some shoes for our [average height] Larry-Bird-in-training. This, of course, raised the sensitive matter of the Gort’s refusal to learn to tie his own shoes.
Guess what, after size 3, it’s pretty difficult to find velcro sports shoes.
And it raised the other sensitive matter of the Hen’s deep displeasure when the Gort gets something and he does not. Even if he has ten pairs of shoes at his disposal and his brother has…..one.
This led to the Hen refusing to leave the shoe area when it was time to go home.
[Could someone enlighten me about a successful strategy for getting a displeased child to willingly leave a store without (a) pretending you’re leaving him behind, or (b) forcefully extricating him from the store while horrified young (non-parent) employees look on and contemplate phoning social services, or (c)……..]
We tried the pretending we’re leaving strategy. It backfired. The Hen wandered off into the recesses of the store alone and the standoff ended with horrified young employees looking on as I forcefully extricated him from Sportchek.
[It’s worth mentioning I’d also wanted to stop at the Superstore, but even I knew it was in our collective best interest to go home. Pronto.]
And then we got home and, many minutes later, someone knocked on the open front door. A young boy-man whose name escapes me now. Not there to sell me anything, of course. Thirty dollars later, I’d signed up for a three month subscription of the Calgary Sun.
Which, I’m pretty sure, is akin to the National Enquirer.
‘What was that about,’ the professor asked from his temporary asylum on the couch. ‘Did you give that kid money?’ he inferred from my awkward silence. ‘For a paper that we’ll never read?!’ he practically fainted.
[I didn’t bother mentioning it was for the Calgary Sun, not the Herald which somewhat resembles an actual newspaper.]
Once the salesman was out of our crescent, I made a sign for the mailbox by the door: Absolutely NO SOLICITING. For people incapable of saying ‘no’.
More long minutes passed and as we attempted to herd the cats into their respective bedrooms for the night, the professor discovered a clump of freshly-squeezed blue paint on the hardwood floor.
‘Someone’ had purposely squirted fabric paint onto the floor?! While cleaning up the paint, the professor also noticed ‘someone else’ had jumped on the large tupperware containers in the closet and broken one.
At this point the man – who grew up with two brothers and seems to have amnesia about any of the mayhem they might have caused – was ready to ship the boys to an island far, far away.
‘So, can I ride my bike in the alley now,’ one of the trespassers asked.
The professor’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. And the trespasser wisely opted to go to bed, instead.
Once the boys were in their respective beds, I decided to venture to the Superstore on my own. I was still wearing the dirt-laden shorts I’d donned for my morning jog and decided it was (finally) time for a change. I grabbed a pair of baggy light-blue jeans from my drawer and stepped into them.
The jeans – once so loose I had to wear a belt just to keep them at a respectable level – were suddenly tight and virtually unzippable.
Had I gained the equivalent of ten pounds in less than a week?
And then I put two and two together. The professor had been doing the bulk of the laundry lately – even though I’ve expressly banned him from laundering my clothes. He must have dried the pants on an insanely high setting; causing them to cling to my legs like shrink-wrap?
Once I’d expended the better part of five minutes putting on the jeans, I wasn’t about to take them off. Probably couldn’t, really. So I went to the library and the Superstore, hyper-conscious of the fact that I was wearing the world’s tightest jeans.
As I pushed my cart up and down the aisles, I fumed at the absent professor for ruining my jeans. Whilst trying to assure my panicky self that I couldn’t possibly have gained that much weight in a week.
When I got home and extricated my legs from their denim clutches, I looked at the tag.
It wasn’t the baggy pair of jeans I’d worn the week before.
It was an old pair I haven’t been able to wear since Percy was born – nearly three years ago – but keep around, ‘just in case’.