Or: Why Some Animals Eat Their Young
McHusband has told me many stories from his childhood that make me alternatingly cringe and ask, with wide-eyed expression of horror,
“WHERE WAS YOUR MOTHER?!?!?!?”
Stories like the one in which he and his brother climbed onto the roof of the house, lighters and aerosol hair spray in hand, to fry the bees that were residing up there.
Or the one in which they rode laundry baskets down the stairway.
Or, my personal favorite, the Houdini stories. You know, wherein one brother wraps the other brother up in blankets, secures said blankets with belts, shoves the near suffocating brother into a dog crate, and ties the dog crate shut with various ropes and other like items. Then the free brother kicks back and times the crated brother’s escape. I can’t breathe just thinking about it.
Then there are the more commonplace, albeit “not on my watch!” type of activities. These would include holding siblings underwater until they almost drown; throwing water balloons from second story windows at the the older sisters’ dates as they rang the doorbell; tying a younger, at-the-moment-annoying, sister down to the bed, etc.
I have two brothers, neither of whom ever behaved that way. I chalked it all up to parenting styles. My mother-in-law, obviously, was much too permissive and hands-off, and my mother, on the other hand, was responsible, diligent, and good at communicating expectations to her children.
I told my husband early in our marriage that I would not allow such behavior among my brood.
The girls are pretty good, actually. The first 18 months of each of their lives were unmitigated torture, but then they actually began turning into pleasant little people. Oh, they do stupid things sometimes, like the time I caught them playing hide and seek in the dryer. Or the time I caught them walking on the wet bar downstairs (side note — we don’t drink, it was already built in when we bought the house).
Then there is Tank Boy. How do males survive childhood and make it to adulthood?
Tank Boy is only 2.5. I still have time to try to teach the boy some sense before he stuffs someone in the microwave and turns it on, right? It’s been months since I last caught him standing on my laptop (which was on my desk every time), so I guess I’m doing something right, right? Now I’m just working on teaching him the basics, like gravity, so that he doesn’t inadvertently off himself.
For instance, as I was convalescing in my bed this weekend I heard him hauling some of the kiddie chairs out of his bedroom and down the hallway. The noise seemed to stop in a rather precarious location, so I sat up and peered around my door. There he was, sitting in a chair right at the top of the stairs doing that little bounce/scoot thing a sane person would do when trying to pull the chair closer to, say, a table or a guest lecturer. Tank Boy, oblivious to basic laws of physics and the fact that the four separate plastic legs would catch and bend in less than serendipitous ways, was just trying to take a little ride.
I stopped his progress just in time, and he threw the chair down the stairs in retaliation. How dare I ruin the fun? I think it’s time to buy him a laundry basket.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.