“Let’s try it tonight.” I responded.
We had finally reached the stage that most parents eagerly await; our oldest son had reached the age of puberty. Along with the unwelcome zits, came the growth spurt and the deepening voice that caused the younger brothers to see him in a new light. Even his dad seemed to have a new appreciation of him.
“Let’s go to a movie tonight. We could go to the early show and be home by 8:30. He can baby sit his younger brothers. After all, our neighbors are close by and he is very responsible.”
We found our son to be elated that he was deemed worthy of such an assignment. So I quieted this mother’s heart and made a mental note to be sure the youngest was in bed before we left.
With the oldest son present, middle son was given his instructions: “You will do whatever your brother says. If you have a problem, we will take care of it when we get home.”
Leaving them for the movies was a bit stressful, and I’m not sure how much we really concentrated in the screen. Dad kept whispering words of reassurance to me. This mother couldn’t wait for the show to be finished. I do think I nearly trampled other patrons when it came time to leave the theater.
Arriving home, we found the house with lights blazing from every window. In spite of a blaring television, we found the siblings asleep in their beds. Lying face down on the couch was our brave sitter…sound asleep with a baseball bat tucked under both arms.
“Maybe he needs more time.” I suggested as we doused the lights and the noise and slipped out of the room.
There was another occasion one winter evening when I had gone across the street to have coffee with a neighbor. The boys were older and seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. Not long after I sat down came the feverish banging on the door. Middle son could barely get the words out of his mouth.
“Come quick mom. Joey hurt himself and is bleeding on your new red carpet.”
Pushing past the boy, I rushed home with my neighbor in close pursuit. There was my son with cuts on both lower forearms.
“What happened?” I screamed as my hands clamped on to both wrists.
While the neighbor called 911, middle son explained: We were playing and he charged me. I moved and he fell into the window.
By this time, the police had arrived and we were rushed to the waiting cruiser. Half dragging my son, my hands still clamped to his wrists, the neighbor threw a coat over my shoulders and hung my shoulder bag around my neck.
The ER staff was waiting for us. “You can let go of his arms lady.” A nurse said.
After a few minutes with no response from me, they began lifting each finger until my hands released him from my death grip. Not long later we were on our way home. He had multiple stitches in both arms and significant bruising.
Then there was the fire. I arrived home after school got out. One of the older boys came in from outside and reported a bunch of ‘burnt stuff’ on the ground outside the youngest son’s upstairs window. Rounding them up I asked the parent’s age-old question, “What happened?”
After a brief silence the youngest boy raised his flushed face and responded.
“There was a fire in my wastebasket. I didn’t know what to do so I threw it out the window.”
Years later when we were all together and family stories were retold, the older boys reported that it was my reaction to this incident that was their first indication that I was getting old and feeble: “Go out and play and try to stay out of trouble.”
The older boys were in the Air Force and only one teenager remained home. Returning from a day of errands, I noticed that the house had been straightened in my absence. Sitting on the counter was a chocolate cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. A strong, handsome young man with a twinkle in his eye and a broad grin on his face came into the room.
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