Lately my two-year-old daughter (G.) has decided that it is perfectly acceptable to scale her gate at night and tumble, flop, or otherwise awkwardly land on the outside in order to escape bedtime. You see bedtime lives only in her room, and once free of this unforgiving taskmaster that demands all her time she can run, play, giggle, and harass siblings as she sees fit.
Well tonight, after thinking I had the girl well on her way to sleepyland, I was lying next to my four-year-old son (Pookie) when the otherwise pacified boy suddenly said, “come on in, G.” And yes, there she was standing at his gate (having made an apparently uneventful and silent dismount from her gate). At this point I returned her to her bedroom, and sensing a long night of “musical rooms” ahead for me, I went downstairs to enlist the help of my caring wife. She was busy with something at the moment so we talked and it was five or ten minutes before she ascended the stairs to assist with the situation. Very shortly thereafter, she thumped for me to come to her.
You see, like the cave-men of old, we use a rudimentary thumping system in our home to signal each other when it would be ineffective or inopportune to call out. It consists of pounding on the floor or wall with a knuckle, fist, foot or some other relatively solid bony appendage in a rhythmic pattern – thump, thump thump thump thump; thump thump. I interpreted this particular thumping to be somewhere above the lazily thumped, “hey, come on up when you have a minute sometime in the near future;” but well below the heart-stopping and wall rumbling thumps of, “get your sorry *** up here NOW before I have to punish you in a way that the mere memory of which will cause you to wake up at night in a cold sweat and panic for weeks to come.” But I digress, back to the story.
When I located my wife at the epicenter of the thumpage, she was standing outside Ethan’s room looking in with a mixture of mild exasperation and poorly-hid amusement. When I inquired as to why I had been summoned, she simply pointed to the far end of the room and turned on the overhead light to facilitate my viewing of the intended area. There, against the wall looking not at all ashamed sat G. and Pookie to either side of a two-foot by two-foot section of wall which had been cleanly stripped of all paint, roughly forming the shape of an imperial storm trooper’s helmet. At first I stared in disbelief, unsure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me this late at night. Then I was surprised to discover that I wasn’t even mad, just curious as to how in the world they had managed to accomplish such a task.
Naturally, it was my duty as a responsible father to explain to my wayward children why such an act was unwelcome and should not be repeated in the future. During the course of my impromptu lecture, I asked them why they had stripped the wall of its green paint, leaving an unsightly white void in the middle of his wall. In response, Pookie turned to me and said simply, “I taught G. how to do it. Daddy, I’m a teacher.” I wasn’t sure weather to be upset about the vandalism, frustrated that he didn’t feel sorry at all, or just pleased that he was filling his role as big brother and passing useful bits of knowledge on to his little sister. However, I think all that matters in the end is that my kids are finally sleeping. Ah, the incomparable joy of sleeping children.