Seeing Red

I sometimes hear of those who write novels or articles for a living experiencing “writers block”, a condition where no matter what you try, you cannot figure out what to put down on paper.  I feel for those in that position, but I have a solution.  Have four kids and just write about your day:

Today started normally enough, I mowed the yard, ate some lunch, a nice easy start to Memorial Day.  After lunch we decided that we should go to town.  Sara had some shopping to do, and I needed to stop by the church for about an hour to do some computer work. It was decided that the two older boys ( 10 and 8 ) would stay with me in order to make the shopping experience less chaotic.

The boys brought some books into the church but quickly realized that there were toys downstairs and asked if they could go play down there.  The downstairs of our church is used for P-K sunday school classes and a weekday pre-school.  “Sure”, I said.  After all, you can’t really hurt those pre-school toys, even at 8 and 10 years old.  The boys romped toward the stairs and I made my way to the church office.  I worked through my problems fairly quickly and within about 45 minutes was calling Sara to tell her I was done.  She was in the checkout line, which gave us just enough time to pick up the basement before she came by to pick us up.

The basement was predictably a rather large mess.  Nearly an hour had allowed the boys to rifle through almost every plastic tub and “forget” to pick any of it up along the way.  While we were putting things back into place, I noticed that one of the boys looked like he was chewing gum.

“Where’d you get the gum?” I questioned, knowing that he didn’t have it when we got to the church.

“It’s not gum…it’s a cracker” he said, grinning.

At that, I wheeled around to notice several of the cabinets in the kitchenette area flung open, a tub (and a separate bag) of animal crackers on the counter, and empty juice containers scattered about.  My children had stolen from the church.

You know, there are days when I can’t decide whether my kids are really really smart – like evil genius smart – or just as thick as a brick.  I have a distinct feeling that there’s not much difference between the two.

Needless to say, I laid into the boys pretty hard while they continued to pick up.  Then, they got it again from Sara all the way home.  We worked out a deal where they would work off their debts with us and we would pay back the church for what they had looted from the preschool kids.  Of course, they heard the plan outlined in utmost detail over the course of about 20 minutes while Sara and I tag-teamed the shouting.

The first thing that happened when we got home was that our daughter started towards the house with the idea of letting the dog out of his crate.  My oldest boy took exception to her having that distinct honor, so he hip-checked her, she pinched him, and they both earned a timeout.  So, my 8 year old pouted and started cleaning the basement by himself.  Sara and I, exhausted from the heist, and the dealing of justice, sat down for a second to check e-mail.

Nearly 10 minutes of peace ensued.  Or so we thought.  Soon, Sara noticed that the water in one of the bathrooms had been running a fairly long time.  Not really long, but longer than normal.  She got up to see what was going on, and as she turned the corner she saw our youngest boy covered in blood from torso to toes.  He was washing it off of his hands.  He looked like a slasher film extra.  To our relief, it wasn’t actually blood, just dark red paint.

Wait a minute – paint??

Sara bolted downstairs to the utility room, where we had recently stored some left over paint that we were using to change the color of the living room.  The evil genius 4 year old had used a screwdriver to open the paint and was painting the wall behind the staircase a deep red, apparently using a paintbrush in each hand.  Red was all over the wall, the floor, the two paintbrushes, an edger (without a pad), and apparently my son’s clothes and shoes.  Luckily, he had noticed the shoes and had removed them prior to leaving the utility room.  Regardless, it was still a huge mess and something we weren’t prepared to deal with after using up all of our patience on the thievery.

Sara and I finally got into a good cleaning groove in the utility room: her scrubbing the paint, me using a broom to push it toward the drain and eventually rinsing it down with buckets of water.  At one point, I asked Sara if our youngest boy was supposed to be in timeout.  She said “if he’s not, he’d better be!” Picture her saying this while bending over and scrubbing red paint off the floor, trying not to touch the floor with her knees in order to save her clothing.   Since she was busy doing all that scrubbing, I decided to go upstairs and see what the boy was up to.

As I approached his room, I noticed the door was shut, which is a good sign.  Perhaps he was in timeout after all.  Then, I heard his voice behind the door – more good news.  However, upon opening his door, I saw one last thing for which I was not prepared.  There he was, standing in the middle of his room, stark naked, pointing at a puddle of urine on his rug and laughing.  When he saw me enter, he looked up at me with a huge grin and simply said “potty”…as if I was too dense to put all of the puzzle pieces together.

That was pretty much the end of the line for him.  He’d signed his own death sentence, and the handwriting was in pee.

Did I mention that our family vacation starts tomorrow?  Just can’t wait to spend more quality time with these little angels.

So, that was pretty much our Memorial Day 2011 in a nutshell.  One thing is sure, we’ll never forget it.


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