Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"So, How Were the Boys?"

I'm still traumatized by something that happened a few nights ago. I already wrote about it to a group of friends, but I glossed over it too quickly to gain any therapeutic value. So here's the story.

Wendy was shrewd when she told me about a "little gathering" for the parents of the preschool kids on Monday night. Instead of asking me to watch the kids that night, she took a different approach. "Should we get a babysitter so that you and I can go to the preschool party together?" Wendy knows full well that I would rather shave my head with a cheese grater than go to a party with a bunch of strangers. "Well," she continued, "We can either get a babysitter, or you can watch Luke and Max -- and William."

Whew, I thought. I don't have to go to the preschool party. All I have to do is watch Luke and Max play legos with William, and that'll be that. No problem.

In fact, there were three problems:

  1. I'm training for the 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, so on Sunday I went on a 70-mile bike ride, which wore me out. Whenever I push it hard like that, I don't recover nearly as fast as I used to. I still felt like I had a nasty hangover when I had to watch the boys the following evening.

  2. William wasn't coming over. Jackson was. William is a sweet little boy who can spend two hours playing quietly with blocks. When I've substituted for Wendy at the preschool co-op, William always comes near me and asks me to read a book or help with a puzzle. He's a sweet, soft-hearted kid. Jackson is not.

  3. Wendy and Jennifer, Jackson's mother, didn't plan on getting back until after 10:00 p.m.
After feeding the boys dinner, I tried to get them to build towers with Legos. I still had a nasty headache and no energy from the long ride, so my greatest ambition in life was to zone out while the boys played. I watched Luke and Max build towers, and then I watched Jackson crush the towers. No, no, Jackson. More towers, more crushing of towers, more tears. No, no, Jackson. I looked so often at the clock, which was moving much slower than it normally does.

Jackson decided to see what other toys were available. To test a toy's value, he picked it up and whacked it against a wall or window sill. Wham! Wham! No, no, Jackson. Apart from smashing objects, Jackson's favorite thing to do was "wrestle." I put that word in quotes because he isn't so much into wrestling as ultimate fighting. He'd get Luke or Max in the full mount and then head butt them or knee them in the groin or put them in a choke hold. No, no, Jackson. Luke and Max were game, but when Jackson eye gouged them or bit them in an attempt to get them to tap out, Luke or Max would start crying. I had to physically pull Jackson off the boys several times. It's not easy watching your kids get pounded by the house guest.

I'm not saying Jackson is a bad kid. He's just really strong, really aggressive, and really dumb. He'll be a great linebacker, the kind of football player who flies into a pile after the whistle and cold cocks a player who may or may not be on his own team. No, no, Jackson. And then he'll look at the ref with those big brown eyes.

So Wendy and Jennifer came home at 10:30. "So, how were the boys?"

I wasn't quite sure how to answer that, because you don't want to tell a person that her kid is half human, half Tasmanian Devil. But you don't want to lie to her, either. So I settled on, "Oh, they were fine -- a little rambunctious, but we have spackling paste and wood filler, and Luke's and Max's wounds will heal in a few days, and we can drop off the broken toys at the Goodwill and write it off on our taxes."

I like to put a positive spin on things.