Patrick developed a style all his own at an early age. When he was 4 or 5, he loved wearing Hawaiian shirts with athletic shorts, his frog Wellipets rain boots and a baseball cap. Not an easy look to pull of, but he did it with panache. Until age 7, he mostly rocked a bowl cut. He then decided that he wanted a faux hawk and we got his hair cut accordingly. The stylist sold him some gel to repeat the hair style at home.
All parents will agree that you know your child is into trouble when the house gets eerily quiet, like you-can-hear-a-pin-drop-and-a-fly-sneeze kind of quiet. I was busy cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry when I noticed the dead silence. I crept upstairs, instantly suspicious. What I did not expect, as I approached his room and opened the door, was the sound of him softly crying. Cracking the door open, I heard him and gently asked “honey, what’s wrong?”. He was lying face up on his bed, tears streaming down his face. He said “I’m…glued…to..my…pillll-ooowwww” (wailing and more tears ensued). Sure enough, the Super Mega Hold Hair Gel had done a fine job on his faux hawk, melding him into the pillow like wax and Gorilla Glue. I gently helped him up, holding back the giggles that I knew would inevitably come at a more appropriate time, and pulled the sticky mess apart with great care. Peanut still likes hair product, but he’s much more careful about using the right amount of “shtuff”.
There is a companion tale (relating to the troublesome quiet) that took place around the same time. We had just moved into our new townhouse (our first real house) and he was exploring his newfound independence. He could play outside in the backyard by himself, ride his bike through the neighborhood, and, before long, walk his first dog all by himself too. We were enjoying a lovely spring Saturday, me putzing around cleaning or doing art projects, him playing Legos and Hot Wheels in his car. Everything was going just peachy fine until I realized…it was totally silent. I stalked upstairs, not making a sound, until I was outside his bedroom door, on the third floor. His bedroom overlooked our driveway and the fronts of all our neighbors townhouses. Once I got right outside the door, I could hear him singing quietly, a happy, carefree sing song. Opening the door without a squeak, I almost gasped in horror seeing what he was doing. He had the window open, cut the screen out of the window and was half hanging out of the window, belly against the windowsill. Toy by toy, he was dropping things out the window and watching them bounce off my car. Plink! Plink! Boing! Plink! The ground was littered with scissors, bouncy balls, Legos, Hot Wheels, army men, Bionicles, crayons. With greatest care and stealth, I wrapped my arms around his waist and fell backwards. I was so afraid that he would fall out the window if I startled him. Pouncing on him DEFINITELY startled him. He started crying. I wasn’t angry, just perplexed and worried. And then, I asked him the 25 million dollar question…WHY was he throwing things out the window? He explained that they had been learning about gravity at school and he wanted to try an experiment. Huh. Good enough reason.
Patrick has always had a way of stopping me in my tracks with offhand comments. At age 7, not long after moving into our first home, a lovely town home, he got me at breakfast. It was a summer day…we were enjoying cereal, watching Spongebob and chatting at the table. Suddenly he says “Oh, Mom. You should have seen the stars last night, They were BE-YOU-TIFUL!”. I think I said something like “that’s nice” and kept eating for a few minutes. Until it dawned on me. I hadn’t gone to bed until at least 1 am. And he was in bed by 9. And it was summer so it wouldn’t have been really dark until well after his bedtime. I realized with abject horror that he had obviously escaped the confines of the house sometime in the middle of the night. I asked him, “what time was it when you went outside?”. He said, “Probably about 3 am, you were asleep”. Cringe! I wasn’t mad, just very, very concerned. And I had to impress upon him that it was not OK to wander out in the backyard in the middle of the night.