Hands-off approach ends in damage

Raising boys certainly is enlightening. For example did you know that a decorative lawn ornament strategically placed close to the house is reason enough to for any boy to scale up it and then climb onto the roof?

Until recently, neither did I.

I guess that unless you’re nine-years-old and using a bath towel for a Batman cape, it just doesn’t make sense.

Our boys have played All-Star Wrestlers, melted crayons in the microwave, thrown rocks at passersby, ran with scissors, and have been known to go outside without a sweater on chilly days. It was really starting to wear us down.

So, on the day that our boys learned that Wal-mart sacks cannot double as parachutes, my husband and I decided that we were tired of the panicked and hysterical existence that we’d been living. We looked up toward the heavens and said to God, "It’s in your hands now." Then we vowed to let the little things go and went back into the house to play "What we don’t know can’t hurt us."

We were able to stick to our new resolution quite well for the first minute or two. Then the real test came. As we were reading the newspaper and enjoying a cup of coffee, a loud crash came from the basement. Our mission, if we chose to accept it, was to continue drinking coffee as if it were no big deal.

While the thunderous sound should have sent people running and screaming, my husband Pat pulled his glasses down to the end of his nose and held the paper at arm’s length and calmly stated, "Boy, that was loud."

I suppose a more vigilant mother would have jumped to her feet and broke into a dead run. I, instead, added more cream to my coffee, picked a piece of lint off of my shirt and replied, "What do you suppose it was?"

"I dunno," he said as calmly as if we were discussing the weather.

"Could have been a hole in the wall," I said as I crossed my legs, and picked up the lifestyle page.

He poured more coffee into his cup and added, "It certainly did sound like structural damage of some sort."

We fought the urge to check it out and comforted ourselves with the fact that a child would appear eventually. We pretended to enjoy our down time as if there weren’t a couple of little boys at the base of the steps in the middle of a heated debate of, "Who’s gotta tell Mom and Dad?"

Although Huey was the one who had actually made the hole in the wall, his defense was that it clearly was not his fault, or his fault alone. You see, if Lawrence had caught the baseball that was thrown at him instead of moving out of its path, why, then there would be no hole.


Oh, sure, Lawrence would have sustained an injury and perhaps sported a bruise for the better part of the week, but, unlike the hole, Lawrence could heal on his own.

I’m not certain that the argument at the base of the steps went exactly like this, you understand. I’m simply speaking with the voice of experience.

Apparently Huey lost the debate of, "Who’s gotta tell Mom and Dad." Either that or he got the short end of the stick, picked the wrong number between one and 10 or was defeated in an intense game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Either way, it was Huey and Huey alone who appeared before the council, which consisted solely of his father, his mother, and a carafe of coffee.

He stood in the kitchen in silence as he studied his cuticles intensely and drew an imaginary circle with his right foot. Although his brothers were not there for support, I’m sure they waited around the corner to hear the verdict – close enough to witness it first hand, and yet far enough to make a run for it if the punishment were all-inclusive.

"What happened?" Pat asked Huey as he took a long draw on his mug of joe.

"It was an accident," responded Huey as if he were making his opening statement.

"How big is the hole?" asked his father, wanting to skip the theatrics, move to the core of the case, and get back to his coffee.

"Pretty big. It’s gonna take a lot of drywall mud to fix it and oh yeah, we kind of broke some stuff. "

I wonder if maybe next time we should try some pre-emptive screaming in between sips of java. That might work.

Still, I don’t think that we’ll actually get up to intervene. The coffee is bound to get cold and it’s way too hard to get the melted crayons out of the microwave to reheat it.