Some of you know that I am doing some basement repair. I’m very happy it’s not basement construction, you see, because that would fall under the purview of various county permitting and taxing authorities. Just a little basement repair. Unfortunately, I’m a bit slow at it, despite considerable help from my friend Lyndal.
It has been an educational experience, for me and for Caleb. Lyndal bought him a tool belt and kid-sized tools. Caleb likes this very much. He loads it up with tools and walks around the basement, whacking boards with his hammer (“No no, not the drywall Caleb!”) and measuring things with his tape measure. Recently I turned to see him bent over a board, assessing it with his little plastic t-square. To complete the picture, understand that his pants were dragged down considerably by his tool belt.
That’s right. My son has a crack problem.
Not only has he adopted the dress, Caleb has acquired the lingo. The other day he watched intently as I cut a piece of Sheetrock. I let him stand in front of me and help hold the box cutter as I stooped to run it along the broken edge. Then I guided his hand as we sanded the rough edge. Once the edge was smooth, I said, “Alright, man, good job. You know what happens now, don’t you?”
He replied, “Glue and screw, my friend!”
So Caleb is down with the vernacular of a hip modern home repair dude like his father. Sometimes he is too down with it. Witness the following excerpt from last night’s family trip to the grocery store:
Me: “Honey, can you help me remember that we need to get some up dog?”
Me: “Hey Caleb, will you help me remember to buy up dog at the grocery store?”
More silent brooding on my part.
Wife: “You know he isn’t falling for that.”
Me: “I know. He’s too hip. But he’ll still pull my finger.”
Eli, too, has some new lingo. He learned it from his brother: “broom, broom.” It is a little boy’s car sound. I frequently hear them playing together now.
“Broom, broom, bbbbbbrrrrooooom.”
“No, Eli, don’t slobber me.”
“Broom, broom, bbbbrrrrooooom.”
“Broom. Stttppd. Brrrooom.”
“No, Eli, that’s my Mercedes. Here’s your cement mixer.”
“No, Eli, don’t eat my Mercedes. Give it.”
Eli is extremely proud of his new sound. If you aren’t careful, he’ll lay it on you when you are holding him close to your face. This invariably leads to a cry of disgust and desperate groping for a tissue. Eli has saliva issues.
But they are fun. Some people have more fulfilling careers or vacations or whatever. We have our children. It’s a good trade-off. People who tell you there is no trade-off are idiots, or just not very good parents. So my children are wonderful, but let’s be honest, parenting is an extreme imposition. That doesn’t mean it is bad, but it is what it is.
My mother insists that she used to hide in the bathroom from my brothers and I, in order to enjoy a candy bar in peace. Somehow we could sense the presence of chocolate in the house, and would gather outside the locked door, banging on it and demanding entry. I suppose this must have been something like having the Huns at the city gates. My mother is now insane. I have this to look forward to, I suppose. Still, being a parent is worth it.
Last night we were running late getting the children to bed. The precious moments of privacy before sleep were dwindling. I impatiently instructed Caleb to pick out a short bedtime book. He walked over to the little wooden bookshelf in his bedroom, and returned with a multi-part epic about Franklin, and his trials and tribulations as a young turtle.
“No, Caleb, I said a short book. Take that back and pick again.”
“Okay.” He toddled back to the shelf. Presently he returned.
“Good lord, child, I said a short book.”
“What did he pick?” Asked my wife, who had her back to us as she changed Eli.
“The Bible.” There was a brief pause. “I hear you snickering over there.”
Note to self: be sure to put ice cold hands on wife’s back just as she drifts off to sleep tonight.