Thursday, October 13, 2011

Little Criminals

I have a general afternoon conundrum. The girls have homework and could use downtime at home. Mihiretu is, quite simply, awful indoors. By nature, he should be running, yelling, throwing balls. Those things don't work so well in our living-room. Particularly when his sisters are otherwise occupied. In an effort to focus all attention forever on him, he steals spelling lists, maims multiplication tables, chucks super-balls at their heads.

In an effort to have our afternoons be all things to all Caprons, I decided to try a round-robin play-date. Every Wednesday, each child has a standing date with a friend. Locations alternate week to week. Yesterday, Lana was at her friend, Ella's. Mae's pal, Ryder, was over here. Mihiretu had Luke here, too.

I've discussed Luke in these pages before. He's a kid very much like my son; handsome, busy, charming, rascally. The two boys match each other's energy - a phenomenon fortunate or catastrophic, depending on the day.

Yesterday, I urged the boys to play outside while the girls designed Ryder's Halloween costume. The girls sat, shiny brown head to shiny brown head, absently chomping pear while they studied their drawing, wondering just what a snow bride would wear. Snow bride? Snow bride.

The boys, meanwhile, circled the house, waving sticks at each other and the occasional passing buck. I would hand a banana or a bottle of water out the front door from time to time but mostly let them be. The lunch dishes were washed and dinner was underway when Mihiretu burst in the front door.

"Luke!" he said, gasping for breath. "Play pano! 'Tole money!"

Luke skidded in behind him. "It was Mihiretu's idea!" he shouted. "He's the one that played the piano!"

Slowly I gathered that the boys had entered the apartment downstairs, the apartment we rent out, the apartment for which we have a signed agreement not to enter without 48 hours notice.

"You played their piano?" I asked, my eyebrows reaching for my hairline, "You stole MONEY?"

Each boy pointed at the other. I ran outside and down the stairs. Indeed, the apartment door was open. Oh my god.

Unable to find evidence of stolen money (for Mihiretu a penny is big money so it could have been minor) and otherwise assessing our tenant's home to be intact, I eased the door closed and pulled them back upstairs.

Admonished and re-bananaed, they headed off again.

By now the costume design was done. I looked it over, made a few suggestions and got to work on a pattern. As we cut shiny blue fabric, stitched and fit Ryder, the boys came in intermittently. Each time, I hustled them back outside. If you don't want Mihiretu inside on a sunny afternoon, you REALLY don't want Mihiretu and Luke together penned by walls and delicate furniture.

Soon I sent the girls outside to occupy the boys while I finished the dress. Within a moment, they were back, breathless.

"They're on the neighbor's roof!" Mae gasped.

I ran out onto the back deck and, following the arc of Mae's accusatory finger, saw two boys, one blond, one curly brunet, balanced below on the Mexican tiled roof of the house downslope.

"Off the roof!" I screamed, my voice cracking. The boys glanced in my direction but continued in their investigation, prying tiles, poking under with their sticks.

"You guys!" I shrieked. "OFF THE ROOF!"

Moments later, thoroughly hoarse, I had successfully cajoled the boys back up the hill. Why does counting work when all else fails?

The boys now strictly instructed to stay off and out of other people's property, I, perhaps foolishly, headed back inside to finish up Ryder's costume. The girls started a game of soccer with the boys.

Soon it was five o'clock, the dress was done, dinner was bubbling on the stove and Kelsey, Luke's mom, was walking through the door. Together we collected Luke and his back-pack, socks and shoes as I told her of the afternoon high-jinks. All of us walked down to say good-bye at the car.

Luke was secured in his car-seat and we were saying our farewells when Mae and Ryder shouted from the other side of our van for us to come. I peeked around the back and burst out laughing.

"Kelsey," I said, "You have to see this."

There, against the side of our van, stood a two-foot round boulder, clearly pushed down the hill by the boys. There was a scratch in the paint but no dent. Kelsey and I shook our heads.

As they drove away, I felt strangely buoyed, curious given this afternoon of boulder-rolling, roof climbing and breaking and entering. Instead of worrying for Mihiretu's future, the jail cell he and Luke would share in fifteen years, I took a deep breath and hefted a sigh of relief that there is a boy out there as crazy as my son. A boy who was not orphaned, not adopted, not transplanted half way around the world. A boy who is active, curious and sometimes bombastic. Just like my son. Boys are, apparently, boys. As the mother of a boy, a testerone-addled, adorable maniac, I do not stand alone.

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