Thursday, November 5, 2009
“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.