Tuesday, September 1, 2009

we can’t have them gallivanting up there like kangaroos, can we?

It starts like this: at five 'til three, I make the left turn into the neighborhood and wave to the sweet woman waiting for her grandson, weave around the parked cars in the cul-de-sac, and throw on the brakes in front of the orange brick two-story. The cats lounge on the windowsill above the door, peeking outside, their eyes following me as I vault out of the car with my phone (shoved from my purse to my shoulder to my ear, textbook in one hand, keys in the other,) shuffle to the front door, circle back around to my car and pick up the consistently forgotten notebook, spin around toward the back door because the front door is double-locked today, try to jump the wooden fence, regret the decision instantly, hug the dog, and walk inside.

Dumping my purse on the kitchen table, I slip off my shoes and jog up the stairs to make sure the bearded dragon is locked up this time, notice the bus creeping down the street, and fly downstairs, through the study, out the door. At the corner, three little boys leisurely climb down the bus steps and stop in a tight circle once they reach the bottom. They continue their trek down the street toward their respective houses with bent heads, happily plotting destruction. With a stance mirroring my own on the opposite side of the rounded road, another teenage girl awaits the arrival of her very own babysit-ee. C2, the younger of my kids, looks up and carefully examines me and the girl, who’s new to her job as of this afternoon. He studies the way we are positioned, a parallel reflected on opposite sides of the grass-covered median. He moves closer and yells, "Hey, look! Y'all are the same!" He pauses and checks out the two cars parked in front of our respective houses, "Except, Katie, her car is better. Yours is way cruddier." And so it begins.

He abandons his two partners-in-crime for air conditioning and wanders into the living room, talking about how his future car will be a convertible mustang with spinners and heated seats. Can I drive it? "No way, you'll wreck it." Will you drive me? He grins. "Maybe."

He finishes the conversation from the master bedroom and saunters back out with an Ace bandage trailing behind him. He plops down in front of Cartoon Network and narrates the events of his weekend; the highlight being a friend's birthday party at the local skate park where he sprained his leg. You hurt your ankle? “Nope, my leg. Can you help me wrap it?”

We then start to wrap. He holds the material in the middle of his thigh and spreads it to the base of his ankle. Because he sprained his leg. His whole leg. He wraps the first time, and I pin. The results are clearly not up to his standards, so he lets me try the process from the beginning. I wrap, he pins. He grips the safety pin and jabs it into the cloth… and yelps. Thankfully, the cloth serves not only as a sprained-leg-relief, but also as a means of stopping the flow of blood from the prick he didn’t see coming. We wrap again; he is annoyed because I leave wrinkles in the fabric and decides he’ll wait for his mom to do it right. Eleven attempts later, we’re set. He limps to gather his supplies, a loaded air-soft gun, and throws the weapon over his arm like a wounded soldier once again facing battle. Chin up, he waddles out of the house, decides it’s not yet time, removes the bandage, and skips into the kitchen.

I hear the microwave click on and start to buzz; I lean in to make sure nothing’s on fire but have already learned by trial and error that this eight year old can cook better than I can. The microwave runs for a long time. Too long. And when light smoke pours out of the microwave, and C2 delicately removes his cinnamon roll with tongs, I realize we have a problem. He sets it on the counter, and we watch the bread bounce. No, really, the pastry gets serious air. He hands me a knife to cut off the more-than-roasted bottom crust, and then jumps on my back to add to the weight needed to move the knife through the bread. The knife gets stuck in the roll, the kitchen reeks of burnt toast, the phone rings, and he collects his guns and retreats to the front yard.

I write all of this from underneath the tree C2 has scrambled up, gleefully yelling, “Hey Katie, I’m going to shoot the cat. I’ll aim for his whiskers, no wait, just the top of his fur. Watch THIS.” He hops down from the branches, as I rescue the cat and make it clear that if he even points his air-soft gun at me or the pets, he’ll stay in his room and do homework. “Katie, I don’t have homework.” Then you'll do mine. “Okay, deal.”

His older brother, C1, (plus four friends) emerges, dashing across yards. C2 ducks behind a pile of bricks. He thinks I can’t see him, so I look away when his head bobs up. He crawls out, stands up, and dives behind a tree, then repeats the process by plunging into a bush.

His mom pulls into the driveway with a rolled down window and asks where her boys are. I point to the plant with two sets of legs.

I start my car, as my little buddy leans against a tree. “I need a medic. I’ve been shot.”

His friend hears the words spoken and wastes not a minute, perking up and springing across the road, knees lifting higher with each stride. “I know CPR!”

“Good, it’s my leg.”

I cruise past them and honk; my injured one bounds up and stares at me, annoyed at my interruption. He then smiles and waves.

Until tomorrow.


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