I walked into my house after work today to the usual fanfare. Charlie ran and hugged me around the legs. Wes had fallen asleep watching TV and was curled up on a chair. James smiled and grunted as he Spiderman-crawled across the living room to meet me. I scooped him up and cuddled him as our babysitter filled me in on their day.
It was the usual, coloring, snack, Wild Kratts, and then she hesitated.
"I'm so sorry, but while I was inside making a bottle for James, they cut some holes in the..."
Not the Pack and Play, not the Pack and Play, not the Pack and Play...
"...Pack and Play. I'm so sorry."
I gaped at Charlie then went to the window to peek out onto the porch where we keep the Pack and Play because we live in Texas and you can do that sort of thing here.
It looked like it had been attacked by wolves. Devious, little wolves.
Holes of varying hugeness covered all four sides. Shreds of ruined netting fluttered in the breeze.
I reassured the babysitter that no, it wasn't her fault, Charlie and Wes know how to behave in the backyard alone and how to use scissors appropriately. She had put them in timeout and otherwise expressed appropriate horror at the behavior.
And then Charlie got the full "I'm so disappointed in you" treatment. I started taking away privileges one after the other. First the TV, then bedtime stories, then dessert, then the backyard camping trip he didn't even know we had planned for them tonight (that one hurt Ryan and me the most). And then I found the scissors and told Charlie he wouldn't be using them again until I decided he was ready to follow the rules. And I hid them. And at the moment I don't remember exactly where, but it shouldn't be a problem because by the time I'm ready to give them back he will be able to drive to Target and buy another pair himself.
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!" I stupidly asked him more than once. Clearly he was not thinking about rules, consequences, behaving like a human being, or the image of the veins in my neck doubling in size and turning purple.
Then I called Ryan at work to warn him that there would be no b-a-c-k-y-a-r-d c-a-m-p-o-u-t tonight because the little criminals have lost the privilege of having fun of any kind for the time being. I knew that Charlie knew exactly what I was talking about and I planned to leverage the full power of "wait until your father gets home."
He looked uncertainly at a spot on the kitchen table and fidgeted with a spoon for a minute. Then he dared to interrupt me to ask for some milk while I was talking and received the Look of Incredulity. When I got off the phone I asked him again "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"
"I'm sorry" he said quietly, examining his shoes. He went right back to coloring and asking me for the scissors (!!) after I turned away.
I still don't know exactly how Wes was involved except that I
know he was inside the Pack and Play when it all went down. So now I
have a mental picture of Charlie stabbing the scissors through the sides
of the Pack and Play over and over and Wes laughing hysterically, not
aware that someone was pretending to STAB HIM WITH SCISSORS.
"I don't even know what to say!" I said as I angrily chopped a carrot and dropped it into a sauce pan.
I turned to a bowl of chicken stock I had planned on using for the soup and found it gelled over and unusable.
"DAMMIT!" I slammed a slotted spoon into the sink and walked out of the kitchen.
I stalked back into the kitchen, unwrapped two frozen pizzas and preheated the oven then made him apologize to James and me again.
He told James he was sorry. Then he apologized to me again. And then he asked me again to let him back into the backyard. I told him we were done having fun for the day. He pouted.
Ryan came home and inspected the damage and made Charlie apologize some more. We ate pizza then Charlie went straight to bed (Wes went to bed straight from his spot on the chair) after the whole "I love you even when you make huge mistakes" speech had been repeated a couple of times. After James was down Ryan met met me in the kitchen where we shared cookies and wondered allowed "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THEM?"
Tomorrow we will be doing manual labor. Lots and lots of manual labor. Tired kids can't destroy things!
We'll start at the church workday pulling weeds and, I'm hoping, cleaning the huge double oven with a toothbrush. It's never too early to teach children that working together to support our community is a punishment.