Saturday, October 4, 2008

Naked Soccer, Grey Hair and the Three Year-Old

Whoever coined the term "terrible twos" didn't stick around to see three.
No, this won't be a diatribe on some new horror that Rosemary's Baby has committed. He's still only two for another month or so, and he's been suspiciously inert where mischief is concerned these past few days, leading me to believe that he's going to come up with something mind-blowing this weekend. My hair turns greyer just thinking about it. But looking back to Firstborn's antics after he hit the big 03 gives me a little cause for concern. Today, he is a happy, basically well-behaved five year old. He was never as "busy" as his little brother, generally preferring to read books and sit still and play with things. But we had our fair share of "episodes" with him as well.
I've already referred to the chocolate syrup debacle, and the vapo-rub disaster and that alarming hot pepper thing. But there were others. Entire bottles of baby powder sprinkled all over himself (we called him "The Mime", but he did at least smell nice), jugs of sticky Kool-Aid all over the kitchen floor, and the unfortunate day he discovered he could climb up onto the stove and reach back into the highest cupboard in the house to down half a bottle of those delicious chewable children's vitamins. I'm still not sure why he doesn't have superpowers.
Before we moved off the army base which was our last home, we were preparing for one of those outgoing inspections. You know the drill. You scrub the house from top to bottom in an attempt to mask the fact that you've utterly neglected the place since the day you moved in, never mind the day-to-day damage done by dogs and kids and spouses who don't think they need to clean up after themselves. So, one evening, after an hour or so of quiet in front of the TV, children sleeping (or so I thought), I headed up to bed to prepare for another long day of cleaning. Firstborn hadn't made a sound all evening, so I was surprised to find him still awake when I got up there. I was even more taken aback to discover that he'd tiptoed into the spare room, found himself a permanent marker and gone to town on every wall on the upper level of our house. After suffering a small heart attack, I made a mental note to hit the store first thing for some damage-control. Thank god for Magic Erasers.
And then there was naked soccer. One gorgeous summer afternoon, I put my kids down for naps and headed to what used to be the "computer room". Again, I heard nothing unususal coming from the bedrooms, or elsewhere. I swear, the kid should be a cat burglar. But halfway through an email to a family member, I was pulled out of my train of thought by an almighty crash coming from the area of the front hallway. So, I booked it upstairs to find the front screen door off its hinges in the driveway and Firstborn standing on the gravel, buck-naked, bleeding from the head and crying loudly. Thank god we live in the middle of nowhere. I really should've had a visit from Children's Services by now. From his garbled explanation, I was able to make out that he'd decided he didn't want to take a nap. He wanted to play soccer on the front lawn (naked), but had run into trouble when he tried to open the stiff screen door. Ever the thinker, he determined that the best way to get out of the house was to move back a few steps and take a flying leap at the screen. The entire thing came out of the door frame and toppled down the four concrete steps out front, taking Firstborn and his soccer ball along for the ride. Never a dull moment.
These incidents, of course, scare the bejeezes out of me when I think of what Rosemary's Baby will inevitably get up to over the next year or so. We already have deadbolts and alarms on all the doors leading out of the house, and our every item of value that was not ruined by one or the other of them has long since been boxed up and put in a far corner of the garage. But three year-olds just seem to have a knack for finding something they shouldn't be doing and then going ahead and doing it. So I am resigned to the idea that I will need to be particularly diligent in knowing where he is at all times over the next 12 or 13 months.
In the meantime, I could use some tips on covering these greys.

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