This entry was first posted at Observations Of A Misfit. I wanted to put something new up, however, the Elementary-school-flu of death (Son is fine, of course) is making the rounds of the family. My turn. So a rerun it is!
February 18, 2005
Same Time, Same Closet
Like most people I have, on occasion, dreamed of running away from home. It seems only last week, I contemplated the joy, the freedom, the bliss of the open road. To be perfectly honest, it was more like yesterday. My husband returned from work to find me sitting silently in the unlit closet of our bedroom.
“Honey? What are you doing?” he asked carefully.
“Sshhhh! He’ll hear you!” I whispered. "Come in, shut the door, and for heaven's sake be quiet!” Without further question, he looked over his shoulder, made sure that he had not been seen, and quietly slipped into the closet with me. “Were you followed?” I asked urgently.
“No, I don’t think so. I think we’re okay for now,” he whispered back. “Who are we hiding from?” I pulled a box of crackers from a drawer, and handed him a bottle of water.
“Who do you think?”
“Oh." He patted my knee sympathetically. "Long day, huh?”
“You have no idea.” He made himself more comfortable, and began opening his crackers.
“Not so loud!” I hissed.
“The wrapper! You’re making too much noise with the wrapper!”
“He can’t hear that from his room; he’s on the other side of the house!”
“Oh no,” I informed him. “He just wants us to THINK he can’t hear, but he hears. He could hear a candy wrapper rustle from three blocks away.”
“Is that so? Then how come I have to bend down and shout directly into his ear to get him to come when I call him?” he asked, seeming puzzled. I patted his knee and looked at him through the dim glow of the flashlight.
“Ahh. Allow me to explain," I told him, as I rearranged the shoes on which I was sitting.
“The hearing of a nine-year-old boy is directly related to the implications of
the incoming sound.”
I sighed. “Okay, if you want him to come downstairs to take the garbage out, there is no way in the world he’s going to hear you. The same with bedtime, school, homework and chores.”
“Yes,” he nodded, “I’m with you so far.”
“Good. Now, I don’t know if he is even aware that he ignores what he’s hearing. It’s possible that he is somehow able to automatically tune out anything he doesn’t want to hear.”
“Do we have any cheese?”
“Here,” I said, handing him the Cracker Barrel pre-cut cheddar. He frowned.
”How old it this cheese?"
“I don’t know. It was aged 90 days before I bought it, what’s a few more days going to hurt? Now, please focus. We’re discussing our son and his selective listening skills.”
“Huh? Oh, right. Yeah, I have no idea why he’s like that.”
“It is quite a mystery,” I replied, as Mike positioned a slab of cheese on his cracker, lining it up square with the edges.
“You were saying?” he asked before popping the cracker into his mouth.
“I was saying that the same child who cannot hear an atomic blast occurring three feet away is nonetheless able to pick up the barest whisper of a bag of potato chips being opened in a neighboring town.”
“Right,” Mike agreed, nodding. “Do you have chips somewhere around here?”
“Look, I really need you to concentrate. If you can’t, you’re out of here, got it?” He swallowed one more cracker and set them aside.
“Okay. Let’s hear it.”
“It started with his haircut.”
“You took him to get his haircut?” Mike asked.
“Not exactly. Do you remember walking into the bathroom this morning and seeing hair all over the counter?”
“Yes, I thought you were trimming your bangs.”
“I don’t have bangs, dear.”
“Oh.” He seemed perplexed. I gave him a moment for the idea to settle in. “Oh!” he said, as realization dawned. “I see. How bad is it?”
“Well, remember when he was a baby and had just one little tuft of hair? Remember how cute he was?”
“Yes.” He smiled fondly.
“Well this is not nearly that cute.”
“So, then what?”
“Well, so then I walked him into the bathroom, pointed out the hair all over the counter and the floor and asked, ‘Did you cut your hair?’”
“And he denied it. He looked me right in the eye and said he had no idea what happened.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. He wouldn’t even admit it when I pointed out that his hairstyle had been radically altered.”
“What did he do?”
“He looked shocked. He looked in the mirror as if he was realizing only then that he was sporting a Mohawk.” I explained. “So I asked your dear mother’s grandson, ‘How do you think your hair got cut if you didn’t do it?’ and do you know what he said? He said, ‘It must have just fallen off’!”
Mike rubbed my back. "It sounds like you’ve had a rough day,” he sympathized.
“Oh, that’s just the beginning,” I informed him. “It gets worse.”
“Okay,” Mike said, settling more comfortably against the door with a pillow. “What next?”
“I got a call from his teacher. She found something in his pencil box after school today.”
“Is it too much to hope that it was pencils?”
“Yes it is.”
“But it wasn’t...”
"No, nothing like that.”
“Well then, what?”
“It seems your son has been stashing his homework beneath a false bottom he created for his pencil box. He folds each paper up as small as possible, slips it in the box, covers it, puts pencils on top of the false bottom and then puts the box behind his books in his desk.”
“Really? That’s, er...creative. Why is he doing this?”
“When I asked him he told me it was because he didn’t have time for school work.”
“Why is that?” Mike asked.
“Because he has a business to run.”
“What kind of business?”
“Apparently, he draws pictures of cartoon animals and sells them to the other kids. He calls them Desk Pets. I asked where he gets his materials. He said, and I’d like to stress that this is an actual quote, ‘I just use the classroom stuff, so there is very little overhead for my business. It’s mostly profit.’”
“Wow. That’s impressive.”
“Be that as it may, he hasn’t turned in an assignment in weeks. He’s has been telling me that he doesn’t have homework, and he’s been telling his teacher he left it at home.”
“Well that’s not impressive. That’s not even original. You’d think he would have come up with something better than that.”
“Yes, the lack of creativity in his lies is the truly upsetting thing.” I snapped.
“Sorry," he said, with eyes downcast.
“Moving on; after the meeting with his teacher, we came home and he started his ‘I’m hungry’ mantra. I gave him a snack and sent him to get started on his homework. When I came in to check on him, he had polished off two apples, a package of beef jerky, and a bowl of cereal.”
“How long were you gone?”
“About five minutes.”
“Yes, that sounds about right.”
“Then I put his school clothes in the wash.”
“How was that a problem?”
“Again?” Mike asked gently. I nodded. “What was it this time?”
“Crayons. I swear I checked every pocket, but these cargo pants have 87 pockets, and it’s very easy to miss one. And of course, he has to put something in each and every pocket, and you don’t even want to know what he puts in some of them,” I began ranting.
“Okay,” he soothed. “Hair, school, laundry, anything else?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
“Is it bad?”
“You tell me; his physical therapist called and said that our dear little boy was trying to sell his leg brace to another boy at school.”
“How much was he asking?” I glared at him. Sorry,” he said. “Anything else?”
"Just the usual. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, first aid, tutoring, school, cub scouts, church, shopping and then I start all over again.”
He nodded. “So what do you want to do now?”
“That’s just it. I think we should run away from home. We’ll go live on a little island somewhere, you won’t have to work, we’ll get away from responsibility and pressure and the day after day after day drudgery. I can make pineapple smoothies and you can organize all the sand by size and color of grain.”
“What about our son? What about the house?”
“He can have the house. I don’t care anymore. We’ll just give him the house; leave a credit card and a good supply of corn dogs. Your parents are close by. They’ll take care of him. He’ll be very happy.”
“That does sound appealing,” he mused. Sensing victory, I pressed on.
“Yes! Think of it! We can sleep in, no homework we have to pretend we understand! It’ll be heavenly!”
“How do you suggest we finance the whole thing?”
“We can live off your trust fund.”
“I don’t have a trust fund.”
“Pity your parents didn’t set one up. We should get away before you become resentful about it.”
“It does sound tempting,” he said wistfully.
“Yes! It sounds...Shh! What was that?” We sat silently for a moment, listening intently.
“Is it the refrigerator opening?” Mike asked. I eyed him in disdain.
“The refrigerator. Honestly, you two are so much alike.”
“No, seriously, I think he’s in the kitchen.” We waited. Then, as we knew it would, the call came.
“Mom? I’m hungry! What’s for dinner?”
Mike and I looked at each other and sighed. “Well,” I said, “it was fun while it lasted.”
“Yes, it was fun,” he answered. “Same time tomorrow then?”
“Yes, of course. Same time, same closet. Don’t forget it’s your turn to bring the snacks.”