Does the punishment fit the crime?
That was the question I kept asking myself. It kept rolling around inside my head like an old sock ball, turned this way and that. I looked at it from every angle, but still couldn’t come up with an answer.
Not only that, but I wasn’t sure what punishment I should hand out myself, if any.
The day had started peaceful, like every other day in my household. I woke up to one of my teenage daughters pounding on the bathroom door and screaming for one of my other teenage daughters to “Hurry up!!!”
Then came banging from the kitchen as my son, and youngest child, rattled breakfast bowls around and threw spoons into said bowls and slammed cabinets shut from whence those bowls came. I was thankful he shut the cabinets this time.
On top of all of that noise, there was the sound of my oldest daughter’s stereo blaring from her room as she tried to drown out “all the racket” being made by the other three.
Like I said - peaceful.
Then all H-E double-toothpicks broke loose. The two girls at the bathroom door were having a pow-wow and glaring down the hall towards the kitchen, where my son stood eating his cereal; totally oblivious to the wrath headed his way. Within moments they were joined by my oldest who began talking with her hands animatedly and looking back at my son as well. Soon all three were talking briskly with their hands flailing (no doubt looking for pitchforks).
I, very casually, stepped towards my son., attempting to not alert the girls to my intentions. Once I was within about three feet of the boy, I spoke to him from out of the side of my mouth, without looking directly at him.
“You got somewhere to be today?”
“Mmmfffpppff.’ He had a mouthful of cereal. I took that as a yes, and grabbed the car keys. The menace down the hall was getting palpable.
“If you value your well being, I suggest you come with me now!” Nodding my head towards the riot occurring just a few dozen steps away.
Without waiting to see if he was coming I spun and leapt for the door, snatching it open in one quick motion. I turned and my son was right behind me, a wild look in his eyes. Once he’d made it through the door and it was shut behind us, I knew we were safe for the moment. Not a force on earth could make those girls step one foot outside that door a single second before they were completely ready.
“What was that all about?” He asked me.
“I have no idea, but I just saved your life. You owe me big-time.”
Later that day, I returned home from work to find my house quiet and serene.
Something was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
The girls were in their usual afternoon spots. The two teenagers reading books in their room; the oldest working on a project on her computer; my son…
Where was my son?
Fearing the worst I called the three suspects into the living room.
“Okay, out with it. What have you done?”
“Whatever do you mean, daddy?” The youngest asked.
“You know what I mean! Where is your brother?”
“How should we know?” This from my oldest. “Are we our brother’s keeper?”
And they all laughed.
An Awful, evil laugh.
I asked again, more firmly this time, “What have you done with your brother?”
This time my middle daughter spoke up. “I think he said he was going to be tied up this afternoon with some kind of memory project.”
Again the evil laughter.
That was all I needed, though, and I was off to check the hall closet.
My son’s bedroom closet.
As I left my son’s room, though, I thought I heard a noise. Returning to the middle of the room, I listened carefully.
There it was again. Coming from the bed. Bending down, I saw those wild eyes once more, staring back at me.
He was wrapped head to toe in toilet paper, with only his eyes and nose left clear. As I dragged him out and began to unwrap him, he wept in my arms. Muttering over and over again.
“I won’t leave the seat up anymore. I won’t. I won’t. I won’t leave it up anymore.”
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