'hide away folk family, or else someone's gonna get ya'
"Do you hear that?" my oldest son asked, scrambling for the remote to snuff out the deep twang of Hannah Montana filling the living room during the boys' post-school ritual. I stopped in my tracks and cocked my head slightly to the left to listen for what had garnered the boy's attention. In doing so, I noted the hint of fear that whipped across his face.
"I don't hear a thing," I responded, hoping my poor hearing would wipe away his concern. Too late. By then, my youngest son added his own voice to the mounting fear his older brother had already started climbing. "Mommy! No!! Make it stop!!" he begged, his words slipping out in an anguish that, if it could take shape, would've emerged from his mouth covered in a gooey slime that rivaled the slick coat of evil Carol Ann returned to her family covered in in Poltergeist. Over his pleading words, I heard the first hint of a scream that was filled with both multiple syllables and urgency. I looked at the boys, and our similar appearances grew even more so with a matching trio of fearful eyes.
"THAT! Do you hear that?! HE'S IS YELLING HIS NAME!!!" my oldest son cried, pointing to his brother. "HE'S YELLING HIS NAME, AND HE'S GETTING CLOSER!!!"
"Oh my God!!! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!" I screamed. To understand why, you must know the prologue:
My youngest son, a first grader, has a classmate, K, who walks past our house every afternoon en route from school. When the pair discovered this coincidence, my son began rushing in the front door, tearing out the back, and waiting for his classmate to appear so he could wave to him. What started out as a casual "See you tomorrow!" toss off and a couple minutes of playful wrestling between pals quickly morphed into a series of emotional reunions only two people who've not seen each other for 15 minutes could fully appreciate. By the third day of this routine, K was announcing his impeding arrival by screaming my son's name at three second intervals beginning at least eight blocks from our house. This is roughly three blocks less than the distance between the elementary school and our house.
Sadly, the screaming doesn't stop upon arrival, as every word that comes out of his mouth does so with urgency and gusto. Also, it's really not so much an arrival anymore as it is a settling in for impromptu playdates I'm ill equipped to deal with. Every minute that ticks off the clock includes me asking K if perhaps it's time he head home. "Won't your Mom be worried about you?" I ask, only to be responded to with incoherent screams I believe contain the words "GAHHHHHH!!" and "What an excellent day for an exorcism!"
In truth, I would like to exorcise this child from my house, especially since he's taken to viewing it as his own. By the second week of these visits, K was letting himself in the back door and asking for a snack faster than I could curse myself for not locking the sliding glass doors. Last week, I spied him pawing the Playstation 2, and when I alerted him to my presence in the room, he tried to convince me my son told him he could have the game system and all the games that go with it. "Hahahaha! Oh, I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to part with it," I responded, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see my youngest sending me a pleading, wordless message of hope - "If you give it to him, he might go away..."
The worst moment, however, came when K ran inside and made a beeline for the downstairs bathroom/laundry room. He remained there for MORE THAN TWENTY MINUTES!!! The duration of that requires the use of the word 'twenty' and not simply the number, because I think it speaks volumes to the atmosphere going on in my house. There's something about this place that seems to lull kids into a false sense of security. Alas, this relaxation most typically manifests itself in their bowels, and K added his name to the growing list of those ages 12 and under who have scurried in and clogged the plumbing. I can deal with my own offspring and what they can do to a toilet. I'm not, however, super cool when someone else's heir is responsible for slowing down the game because they were compelled to bring in their second string, if you know what I'm saying. People, I have called my Tool Man home from work to come unclog the clogs caused by stray children, that's how not cool I am with it. There's an unwritten, unspoken rule that you don't do your second tour of duty at anyone's house, no matter how friendly you are. It would seem, however, kids - at least those who find themselves wandering around my split level - have yet to grasp this rule.
(p.s. - Tool Man is an awesome, amazing man because he has totally come home to plunge away the evil, even if it's the middle of the day!)
It was the bathroom experience that clinched (so to speak) the deal for me and K, and brings us back to the afternoon of fear the boys and I lived through...
Tired of the screaming, the threats of petty theft, and the need to rewash a load of laundry, we'd all been on guard when 4:15 p.m., would roll around. That guard was in full effect last week when my oldest heard the first letter of his brother's name echo off the houses eight blocks away. "What are we going to do?! What are we going to do?!" the boys yelled as K got closer.
Bracing myself, I yelled back, "We're going to do what we should have done two weeks ago!"
"Absolutely!" my oldest cheered. "We're going to hide!!"
And hide we absolutely did. It was like a scene straight from a low-rent science fiction movie. Like aliens had swooped in out of nowhere and snatched us clean away from whatever it was we'd just been doing. The television remained on, broadcasting a silenced Hannah Montana, half-eaten snacks were discarded mid-bite, and papers stirred up by our rapid vaporization fluttered in the air before slowly descending. Had we a spinning chair, it would have been emitting a squeaky soundtrack for our disappearance as it rotated in the dank, quiet air where once life thrived.
Our hiding was less than stellar. I crouched behind the kitchen cabinets, my youngest dove for the bathroom, and my oldest stretched out and tried to make himself invisible on a couch that sits right in front of a wall of windows that were open at the front of the house. No one moved or dared breath for several minutes while K beat on the glass of the sliding door. I take that back. While he rattled the door and beat on the glass, I totally whispered a silent prayer of thanks that I'd had the foresight to lock the door en route to my hiding spot.
Finally...FINALLY!!...K journeyed off, and to date, his returns to the house have been a bit more sporadic. I realize I could've used the opportunity we encountered as a means of teaching my boys how to face their problems head-on, but really, when you're scared, you'll act irrationally.
You'll also be glad you did when, afterward, you have to use the toilet and you find that it's unclogged and waiting for you.