Live to fight another day: Mischief Managed

The other day, I was driving down the road with the two youngest boys in tow, listening to The Moth podcast and enjoying a beautiful day. As the storyteller was recounting his humorous yet poignant adventures, Everett blurted out, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been drunk!”

"I wonder what I can bury under that snow."
Everett contemplating his next hilarious hijinks

Most parents would probably snort in laughter at the completely absurd pronouncement their 6 year-old had just made.  I nearly ran off the road. If you know Everett (or have read about his antics on his mother’s Facebook feed, which usually begin, “Everett (age 5)…”), then you understand why. The first question that popped into my head was, “Whose liquor cabinet did Everett break into?” which was followed very closely by, “This is gonna be the one that gets DHS on our tail.”

You see, our third son has used a lifetime’s worth of destruction in his few short years. If he had a motto (and he regularly tries some out for size, so please don’t recommend this one to him), it would probably be, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” This, of course, is Robert Oppenheimer’s famous remark on witnessing the birth of the atomic bomb (and which, I am sure, he stole from a horrible comic book villain, such as Galactus, or maybe Michael Moore).

All boys cause mischief. All young adult boys books are built around the main character being a mischief-maker.  Everett does big-ticket mischief.

He stuffed the sink full of paper, then ran the water on full blast in the upstairs bathroom.  Then, of course, he decided to take a playtime sabbatical, which meant that we didn’t discover it until the water had filled the confines of the bathroom floor and sought escape via the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom.

On another occassion, he came in from playing outside to let us know that he had, completely unintentionally, “put a fire on the shed.” This was confirmed by the billowing black smoke issuing from said wooden structure abutting the goat pen.  Not content with two of the fundamental elements (water and fire), he began branching out: scattering plaster-of-paris around the room and then topping it with glue, later using glue to affix staples to the sunroom floor — pointy ends up, and using a screwdriver to etch an abstract tattoo on the face of the only TV in the house.

For maximum effect, hear Tom Hanks proclaim, "I have made fire!" from Castaway
For maximum effect, hear Tom Hanks proclaim, “I have made fire!” from Castaway

So when Everett announced his inebriation, all I could respond with was, “WHAT???”

“I like the alcohol in my orange juice,” he clarified.

“Everett, there’s no alcohol in your orange juice,” I proffered, hoping that saying it out loud would make it so.

“What’s that stuff that’s in orange juice?”

“Pulp? Do you mean pulp?”

“Yes,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve drunk pulp.”

It would be several minutes before the adrenaline in my system allowed my heart to ease under 100 bpm, and yet I was relieved. We would make it another day. My pre-k boy had not become a raging alcoholic, and there would be a measure of achievement celebrated that evening as Heather and I recounted the day’s events for each other.

That’s been our mantra for the past few years, as we each tried to bootstrap separate businesses during the “Great Recession” — while not giving up on homeschooling. We made it another week. It was how we punctuated the good weeks, and the bad ones were managed with “We’ve made it all the weeks before.” To many readers, that sounds hard, and difficult, and like we’re really struggling.

I hadn’t seen it very clearly until I read this great post on Failure Factory. Play is defined as “taking many turns” as opposed to what most of us strive for, which is “one perfect turn.” That makes sense to me.  Rolling a bowling ball down the alley ONE TIME to determine your score is stressful. Getting 20 (or 21) rolls makes it a game.

So it’s Thursday evening, and the “work week” is nearly done. Yet I have a new blog entry posted, will be performing twice this weekend with Charlotte Comedy Theater, signed up for open mic night at Blumenthal, and am gearing up on my own novel.  All of which are far from perfect, but this is my game, and I’m taking as many turns as possible.

1 Comment

  1. My mother always says that if you come home with the same number of children that you left with, that you succeeded — you win. Some days, that *really* helped. It is a win when they grow up “in one piece,” especially with those children that really try all the boundaries of life.

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