Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Joker

“Brad, something’s wrong with Charley,” I say.

Thud! Brad’s feet hit the floor and he come’s a runnin’.

“What’s wrong?” he says, as he enters the living room.

“He’s ready for work,” I say, and I’m sorry, but that’s just not like him.

Brad looks at Charley for a minute. “You’re right," he says, "Son, are you feeling okay?”

“Stop it Daddy Brad,” Charley says.

Let the clouds part, let the trumpets sound, let the thunder roll, but the boy is out of the bed and has his shoes on and is in transit to the car to head off to work, even as we speak, which is totally out of character for him since he usually spends about an hour avoiding the inevitable.

At first he did his “I’m not getting out of bed” routine, but then without warning he’s in the living room demanding that I tie his shoes at least 3 times because I couldn’t possibly get it right the first time.

He says, “Daddy, hug Mommy,” so Brad and I hug, and he’s saying, “Mommy loves Daddy, Mommy loves Daddy,” and “You two married,” and the kitty got fed, and out the door he goes, and in a good mood too, smiling and waving, “Bye Mom!”

What up with that?

I stood there for a brief second and then said goodbye and told them I loved them both very much and then Brad starts to disappear down the steps.

But not Charley. No, he just stands there. Waiting for Brad to turn around and he’s dangling the key to the padlock, on a string, kind of swaying it around in circles waiting for Daddy Brad to notice.

Voila! Now I know why he was so anxious to get his shoes and jacket on and head out of the house, the varmint had planned a joke.

Charley is always pulling little pranks. I dare say this, but he probably learned that from me, because there was a time when I was the master practical joker around here but then Charley came along and, well, I’m sorry but I’ve been out pranked more than once.

So I’m looking at that key swinging back and forth in his hand and my mind wanders to all the times he’s hidden my car keys because he didn’t want me to leave for work, and the bologna sandwiches he’s stuck in my knitting bag because he was mad at me, and Brad’s necktie that he flushed down the toilet along with his toy Batman because he wanted to see it swirl around and then disappear, and the clothes he’s hidden behind the chair in the living room because he didn’t like them, and the green shirt he threw in front of the lawn mower and then demanded that I duck tape it back together, and the times he’s hidden under the bed or under the table or in a box, but NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING quite matched the day I received a phone call from Brad saying he couldn’t find his glasses.

I was in Florida visiting Mom and Dad at the time and the phone rang. Brad was on the other end. “I can’t find my glasses anywhere,” he said. I could hear the panic in his voice. No, I could feel the panic. Uh oh, heads are gonna roll.

“Did you look next to the bed?”


“Did you look next to the couch?”


“Did you look in my knitting bag?”


“When did you see them last?”

“How should I know, he said, I can’t see without them!” he said.

“Okay, then when did you have them last?” I asked.

“When I got into the shower,” he said.

“Put Charley on the phone,” I said.

So Charley got on the phone. “Hi Mommy!” he said.

I said, “Son, have you seen Daddy’s glasses?”


“Son, did you take Daddy’s glasses?”


“Son, are you wearing Daddy’s glasses?”


“Son, give Daddy back his eyes,” I said.


I could tell he was thinking that over. After all, he hadn’t taken Brad’s eyes.

“Son, go and get Daddy’s glasses right now and give them back to him.”

I could tell he had put the phone down because he was no longer breathing into the receiver.

“Charley, are you still there? Hello…Hello...”

Brad got back on the phone. “Did you get it out of him?”

“Not exactly,” I said, “But I think we are getting somewhere.”

“What makes you think that?” he said.

“Because he got real quiet which means he’s trying to find a way to give them back to you without getting in trouble.”

Now Brad was quiet. “Oh,” he said.

“So don’t fuss at him, whatever you do, or he may not tell us the next time he hides our car keys or the umbrella, or our underwear or whatever else he can think up,” I said.

Usually I’m the radar queen. Brad can call me and say “Where’s my…” and I’ll zero right in on whatever he’s misplaced and he can go on with his day. But not that day. He couldn’t go anywhere until he could find his glasses, and someone, Charley-the-joker, knew it.

Since Brad was calling long distance from New York we decided it was best to hang up, at least until we could think of other places he might try looking.

I sat there drumming my fingers on the table, sipping an iced tea and trying not to worry for about 15 minutes when the phone rang.

“Found em’,” he said.

“Where were they?”

“In the garbage can.”

“Well that doesn’t surprise me one bit,” I said, “He knew that would be the last place you’d look.”

I could tell Brad had been shredded and that it was taking all he had not to come unglued at our son, because as he told it, Charley had gotten off the phone with me and had stood beside the garbage can. He didn’t exactly point out the location of the glasses, he just stood there for a long time looking at this Dad.

Finally Brad realized it was a sign and all but did a nose dive into the garbage and started digging. There, at the bottom of all of the garbage, was a pair of glasses. Covered in ketchup of course, but in one piece. Nothing a little soap couldn’t fix, but oh brother, it was garbage day, and Brad was fixing to walk to the garbage bin, and well, let’s just say in fluent Charley language, “Thanks the Lord!”

“Well, you gotta give it to him," I said, "he’s creative.”

I had to swallow my laugh, because poor old Brad had been through enough, but the truth be told I laughed my hinny off after we hung up and if there was any justice in the world when a person such as I laughs her hinny off the very least that should happen is the hinny should stay off. But no. It just keeps coming back.

I guess Charley was about 7 years old at the time. Well, he’s 19 now and all grown up; nothing’s changed except for the beard. And here I stand on the porch with my hand out waiting for him to give me the key and he flings it around in the air and it sort of floats up and then back down again and “Nice catch Dad,” he says and laughs out loud as Brad hands me the key so I wouldn’t be locked in the house all day when I locked the door from the inside.

On the way down the steps he looks over his shoulder at me. “I play game Mom.”

He sort of sings it… "I choke Daddy," he says.

"You choke Daddy?" I says.

"No,I CHOKE Daddy." he says.

Okay, I think we might be having a teeny little communication problem. He's nowhere near Brad, how could he be choking him?

"Say it again son," I said.

Well that did it, If you know anything about people with Downs Syndrome then you know they often have trouble saying their words clearly. I've gone and made him mad, and he stomps back over to me with his hands on his hips. “I hide key on Daddy,” he says, and then laughs so I will think it's funny too.

"Oh, you were trying to say you played a joke on your Dad," I say.

"Duh," he says, "Focus Mom!"

Something tells me it might be one of those days so I go and look in my knitting bag. No,I did not find a bologna sandwich but guess what…I did find my car keys.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Monday, No Good to Me

I hate to have to tell my son this, but most people in the USA do not get valet service to school.

There’s nothing unusual about today except that it’s Monday and that means you-know-who has had a weekend to chill out, and that he takes exception to the fact that he has to get out of his cozy little room and go out into the world like the rest of us.

Brad and I were trying to be nice. We really were. Brad starts calling to him around 5:30. He’s as nice as he can be, and even takes him chicken (Charley’s personal favorite), and tells him it’s time to start waking up for the bus. The bus picks Charley up right out in front of our house.

Ten minutes later Brad is back in the room again, this time standing over the bed.

No response.

“Charley, it’s time to get up,” he says.

No response.

“Okay, I guess I’ll just have to stand here until you show some signs of life.”

“Go away,” a voice says from under the covers.

“You’ve got one half hour and the bus will be here,” Brad says.

Another 15 minutes pass. This time I go to his room.

“Son, you are going to miss the bus, now you’ve got to get up.”

“Go away.”

“Tell you what, you get up and I’ll go away,” I say.

The Superman blanket is tucked nicely around every square inch of his body.

I reach under the covers and tickle his toes.

"Stop it Mommyhead!"

Next I start to pull the covers back.

"Are you coming out or do I have to come in there after you?" I say.

“Go away, I’ll kick you,” he yells.

“You had better NOTt kick me, or you will be in big time trouble, buster,” I say, and walk around his bed to turn off his fan. He just hates that.

“Go away, JERK!”

“Did you just call me a jerk? Now that’s NOT nice,” I say, “Get your hind end out of the bed,the bus is on its way.”

“I NOT going.”

“Oh yes you are.”

"No Not."

I leave the room to collect my composure. The last thing I want to do is melt down and start yelling at him because then he shuts down completely and then good luck getting him to do anything.

He is playing a game with us. He does this every Monday morning. He’s as rude and mean as he can be and then says, “I play game with you guys.”

Well I’ve had it with the game. One of the things he hates the most is when I walk out to the school bus. He thinks this is treating him like a baby, but you know what? This morning he has forfeited his "I'm a big boy" rights by being so ornery, So I think I’ll just mosey out to the bus when it gets here. Either he’s out of the bed with his shoes on, or…

“I’m going to have to go out to the bus,” I say.

“No not.”

“Yes I am,” I say, “This is your last and final warning.”

No movement.

The bus has just pulled up.

“Crystal is here,” I say.

“No not.”

Okay, time to play dirty. I throw Brad’s coat over me and shut the door loud enough for him to hear it, and proceed to go out to the bus to have a little chat with Crystal (the bus driver), and I ask her to give him a lecture on not making the bus wait for him. I tell her to tell him that the next time he pulls this little joke of his that she is going to drive off without him.

He knows what that means. The TV will be taken out of his room and we will spend the day scouring every inch of the house. It will not be fun for either one of us, and that’s a promise, but at least I will have a clean house.

He will beg, cry, and plead for me to give back the TV, but I am the terminator of all mothers and will carry the remote control around in my pocket and make it stick out just enough so he can see it, and he will pay the price for being ugly to us and making Crystal wait, and the day will be spent in hard labor and the bathtub will get scrubbed. Oh, did I forget to mention the toilets? I will hate the day because we will spend it fighting and he will put his arms around my neck and kiss me on the cheek and try his best to sweet talk me which always melts me like butter, and it will kill me but I won’t give an inch.

One thing is for sure, he’d better get his hinny out here to this bus in about 2 seconds or it’s all over but the crying.

Okay, so I’m on the bus and talking with Crystal and suggest that she play the Mr. Bailey card which means she’s going to tell Mr. Bailey on him, and this, along with a stern tone of voice will get his attention because he just loves Crystal and doesn’t want to be out of favor with either her or Mr. Bailey.

Crystal says she’s not mad at him but that she can fake it and will give him a good talking-to and all I can think about is how Charley got kicked off the bus when we first moved here to Tennessee. It seems he was trying to play a joke on the bus driver and swiped his hat off of his head, and the bus driver had no sense of humor whatsoever, and well, the next think we knew we were sitting in a meeting in the Principal’s office being told that Charley was no longer allowed to ride the regular bus which removed all doubt that I was probably NOT going to be nominated for Mother of the Year.

And now here I stand, talking with Crystal who couldn’t be any nicer if she tried, and I’m probably going to have to sit him down later today and remind him of how he was kicked off of the bus a couple of years ago and that if he wants to continue to ride Crystal's bus he’d better get his act together or heads are gonna roll.

Brad steps out onto the porch and yells to me. I know what he wants. He wants me to come back to the house because Charley won’t come out to the bus if he thinks I’m telling on him to Crystal.

I know Brad wouldn’t be calling to me unless the turkey bird is ready to get on the bus, so I go back to the house.

I can tell he’s been in trouble with his Dad because he steps out onto the porch and throws his arms around me. “I love you Mom,” he says with a weepy expression on his face.

“I love you too son, but you are in trouble,” I say.

“I love you Dad,” he says.

“I love you too son, here, take your medicine,” Brad says and hands him a cup with some liquid medicine that Charley takes every morning. He walks right past the cup and heads down the stairs, crosses the lawn and steps up onto the bus.

Well, here I go again, back out to the bus, and I hand him the cup and he drinks it.

I tell him I’m disappointed that he’s put his Dad and me through so much stress and I stand there waiting for an apology that I am not about to get, and finally I turn around and go back to the house.

Brad and I stand on the porch watching the lights from the bus disappear out of sight and I consider going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head. In fact, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Later when he gets home from school and wants his snack, I'm going to hide under the covers and refuse to come out. That'll fix him.

Then he will ask if I'm sick, and I will tell him "Yes, I'm sick, thank you very much," sick of him not getting out of bed in the morning and that he's worn me to a frazzle and sorry about that but I just don't have the energy to fix him his chicken. That ought to do it.

So I come back into the house to thaw out and sit down at the computer to write about my son behind his back, and I’m off to a good start and my fingers are just flying on the keyboard and I’m using a few choice words which I will just have to delete before I put it out onto the blog, when the phone rings. It’s Crystal on the other end saying that Charley wants to apologize for his behavior. I’ll just bet he does.

“Hello,” I say into the phone.

“Mommy, I warry,” (Sorry) he says.

“What did you do wrong?” I say, trying to get him to understand what he had done.

“Oh no, this again,” he says.

“Son, that’s not a funny joke,” I say.


“You gonna get up and out of the bed tomorrow like you are supposed to?”


“And no more of this refusing to be ready for the bus on time?”


“You promise?”

“I promise,” he says. I can tell from his tone of voice that he means it. Until the next time, of course.

“Okay son, you have a good day and remember, you promised.”

“I warry, Mom, I love you.”

“I love you too, son.”

“Tell Dad I warry.” He says.

“Here tell him yourself,” I say and hand the phone to Brad who tells him that he accepts Charley’s apology and then tells him that he loves him very much.

Yep, it’s Monday.