Parenting is about suspended disbelief. The kid that you think will NEVER do something, does it…with a spectacular outcome. This can be good. This can be not-good. This can be catastrophic or miraculous. This probably will require some sort of pain reliever…for you, not the kid.
“The microwave oven is on fire,” the kid will say. No exclamation point. No urgency in his voice. Just matter-of-factly informing you that the microwave oven is on fire. And you’re sitting on the toilet at the moment.
“I walked through the screen door. I didn’t notice it wasn’t open,” he’ll say.
“You didn’t notice it was closed?” is the incredulous response.
“Didn’t it seem darker when you looked out?”
And your hand meets your forehead while your eyes roll and your heart sinks to the bottom of your feet (but only because there’s the floor under them, otherwise your heart would go past that point.)
I’ve caught myself saying “I can’t believe you did that” many times. In hindsight, I was not as surprised that whatever it was happened; I was more surprised that it had happened to my kid. And the kid wasn’t always J. J is the one who jumped from the top of a desk, bounced off a bed and went SPLAT! against a wall. J was the one who unlocked a sliding-glass window and sat on the ledge with his back turned to the great outdoors when we lived on a second-floor apartment. (I had always been made fun of because I had wind chimes INSIDE our home…I was vindicated that day.) J is the one who put Red the Dog (not to be confused with Pinky the Dog) into the toilet and flushed.
Our other son has been the one who has most forced us to shake our heads and say “you did WHAT???? to the WHAT????” quickly followed by “HOW????” and “WHY????” His impersonation of Hunter S. Thompson and his re-enactment of The Rum Diary the other night are a prime example of this type of incident. Those are the moments that prove that the “parent curse” is alive and well and proactive: “I hope your children are as bad as, or worse than, you were.” Thanks, Mom and Dad…for the lovely parting shot.
J spent a great deal of time observing his brother yesterday. We assume that it was out of consideration that he removed himself (and his noise) to the basement, and then sat smiling at his brother as he walked in and out of the area with baskets of laundry, clothes hangers, trash bags… J was in a classical-music kind of mood so he was using the DVD player to listen to his CD, and his brother came downstairs to run with the Wii. Obligingly, J switched the “source” button on the TV remote so that the Wii could start and then, while Liszt marked time, he giggled as his brother ran around the basement. I sat next to J wanting to view this scene from his perspective.
Around and around, dressed in sweats and a beanie, his brother went. J kept giggling whenever he came into view. Just like Tom and Jerry in The Cat Concerto, the whole idea of running around in time with the music made me laugh, too. J looked at me as if saying “right??? It’s friggin’ hilarious!” and giggled some more.
When the run was done, J sat on the couch looking at his brother who had sat on the steps and was taking deep breaths. They made eye contact and the oldest smiled and waved. J took a swig of water from his bottle and smiled back. Something passed between them…perhaps the same thing that happens between “normal” siblings when one of them does something infinitely stupid that leaves the other sitting in the catbird seat. “Dude…you are such a pr*ck!” “Shut up.” “That was f*cking stupid of you!” “Shut up.” “Seriously, man. What an assh*le!” “F*ck you!” Between my children yesterday there we knowing smiles and nods, but they meant pretty much the same thing…”I can’t believe you did that! Now, in comparison, I’m the brain trust!!! Thanks!!! Ha ha ha ha!”
The tables will turn soon enough. J is, I’m sure, on the brink of some act of ill-timed stupidity that will place the other one on the catbird seat. Let’s see…the cycle seems to be working. J flooded the basement by clogging the toilet (with paper) in September, and his brother acted like Jack Kerouac for one night in January. By May we should be ready for the next cycle of stupidity… Mind you: that J is autistic does not stand in the way of his doing profoundly dumb things that he KNOWS he shouldn’t be doing: this is the laundry expert who rigged a washer to go through a whole cycle fully loaded and with the lid open. He did this on the day an out-of-town guest was arriving and I had very little use for two inches of water in any part of the house…oh, and dripping from the ceiling in the laundry room, of course.
I wonder WHAT they will do to WHAT, and HOW and WHY then. Oh, gee…I can’t wait!!!!!