Our youngest child was a challenge, beginning with his journey down the birth canal, where he decided to remain 48 hours. After two days of 5-minute-apart contractions and subsequent hospital trips, I grabbed the coat lapels of the fifth doctor to tell me it would be “just a little longer” and demanded it ‘in writing’. Our innocent little baby was laughing at all of us even then.
Jeremy had this genius even (unknowingly?) as a toddler in church. Sitting in the front pew while my husband delivered his first sermon, I noticed my spouse becoming nervous and trying to stretch his collar away from his neck, simultaneously hearing snickers behind me. To my acute embarrassment, our child had figured out how to unzip my purse and was brandishing a tampon in each chubby little hand above his head.
We had been forewarned.
For the next several years, our gay little tyke entertained his entire world with antics and precocious activities. Today, he probably would have been diagnosed with AD, HD, ADHD, ODD, and every behavioral label in-between. We said that he had “ants in his pants” or was just “hyper.”
His teachers agreed. Previous teachers warned future teachers to beware—which explains why these cowardly educators restructured their seating charts to place Jeremy at the farthest back corner where he would cause the least chaos. Not that I blame them, mind you. We once tried to duct-tape him to the ceiling, but he was just as happy to rain spit all over everyone and everything below him. Nowadays, we probably would have been arrested for child endangerment. I still wonder why there isn’t a similar resource for parent abuse.
But, I digress.
When our adolescent began middle school, his teachers struck a deal with us. If Jeremy stopped his pranks in their classrooms, they would not longer seat him in the back row. (This pact, right after he had sabotaged the blackboard erasers, stuffing chalk pieces in their grooves. After that, poor Miss Hemell checked her erasers repeatedly throughout the day, and was suspicious of any fruit placed on her desk. It seems that our son had used a live night-crawler instead of the usual candy gummy worms inside a shiny, red apple, plugging the hole with a red pencil eraser.)
It wasn’t much better in Sunday School. Teachers tried to ignore his infractions there. Until elderly Mrs. Myers arose from her padded chair with a soaked behind. The dear old saint thought her Depends had failed her. Then, there was the Christmas Program that almost got cancelled because the baby Jesus doll had been substituted with a stuffed scarecrow—with voodoo pins sticking up out of its body!
In spite of it all, we survived these formative years. Next came the dreaded teenage years. We tried everything. When Jeremy popped off and switched keys on the school’s computer keyboards, we banned him from watching television. When he coated all the doorknobs in our house with Vaseline, his punishment was washing and shining those knobs for weeks. When he placed raisin-filled Styrofoam cups on all our ceiling fan blades, we made him retrieve the flung-everywhere fruits and eat them—ALL. When he removed the caps and lids from his sister’s cosmetics and toiletries, taping them on the ceilings throughout the house, his consequence was to replace the covers and wash all the ceilings.
The year Jeremy turned fifteen we resorted to a notarized contract. If he would stop his practical jokes in school, church, and restaurants (oh, my goodness—the time he switched the salt and sugar containers at our favorite family café! . . .) throughout the year, we would allow him license during the Spring, beginning with April Fool’s Day (when everyone acted a LITTLE crazy) and ending on the first day of summer.
Spring, therefore, became Jeremy’s favorite time of year. And we held on. After all, high school graduation was only a couple of years away.
During his college years, we were not privy to the outrageous Spring Bread jokes Jeremy participated in. Apparently there were so many others like him, these were not considered noteworthy.
We received a call not long ago from Jeremy’s exasperated co-worker. It seems that someone had filled his law-school assigned cubicle with packing peanuts and the poor man couldn’t get inside for his case notes. I preferred not to ask why Jeremy had all those bags of packing foam pieces filling his bedroom closet . . .
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