The Different Faces of Mischief

The children all seem to pass through some mischief phase or another. With all our children, one right after the other, I would have thought that Wife and I would be able to correct any misbehavior almost before it happens. Well, it so happens that while all the children fall into the same patterns, they, very cleverly, find very different way to execute them.

One little face.

One little face.

Wife, now seven and a half months pregnant, waddled out to the porch like a penguin in high-gear. The screams that modulated between annoyance and terror, all stemming from the miniature lungs or #8, were the cause for Wife’s swift pace. And when she burst through the screen door, she was met with a sight that sent her temper up to match her quickening stride. The fourteen month-old, #8, was pinned down by his two year-old brother, #7, who was attempting to run over #8 with a big-wheel.

Another little face

Another little face

Like an avenging angel, Wife swooped in and with a blur of motion had #7 by the scruff of his shirt. He looked up with an expression of horrified amazement, as if to say, “Where on earth did you come from?” But after that he had no time for conscious thought, for he was caught in the whirlwind of his mother’s wrath; and before he knew what happened, he was whisked away in a tornado of arms and legs and left nearly spinning on his bed with the strict command to, “THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID!”



Wife then lifted up and comforted #8, and as he laid his head on her shoulder she turned and notice #5 and #6 for the first time. #5 piped up, “We saw him runnin’ over the baby, we saw him!” And next to his brother, #6 was nodding his head. It would have been better if he had said nothing.

Wife’s motherly instincts became indignant, and her flash-powder-temper had already been ignited. “Then why didn’t you stop HIM!”

At that point, the National Weather Service satellites recorded a second tornado blowing through my house which has taken hold of two little boys.

Here I must stop my wit for a brief moment and declare a wisdom that I had previously overlooked. The children’s bedrooms consist of bunk beds, sheets, and pillows. No toys. No books. No stuffed animals. All Wife’s design. Which means, when children are sent to bed, they have nothing to do but sit in bed… and start the crying that always accompanies discipline.

When I got home at the end of the day, all three boys were still in their beds, fast asleep, some four hours later. And bed-time-out worked. I know now #7 learned that #8 is not a speed-bump, for he has not tried to ride over him again. On the other hand, #8 keeps his distance when #7 in on his big-wheel. And #5 and #6 have learned that they are their “brothers’ keepers,” or at least they plead ignorance after the fact…

The Refrigerator-Sense

I found a regular pattern occurs when I walk to the refrigerator; I turn to find #6 silently standing before me, holding up an empty cup (or bottle at bedtime) with a single question on his little lips, “Jooos?”

I am starting to believe that he has a “refrigerator-sense” in his little head. Or perhaps he has a tripwire that sends a signal specifically engineered for his ears alone. Whatever the case may be, no matter where he is in the house, when the refrigerator door closes there he is, “Jooos?”cupboard

There have been times when I have gone to the fridge for something only to find #6 at my feet and the rest of my brood at his heels. They wait, using their younger brother as a lighting rod to see whether it is safe for them to ask for juice as well. If I do answer in the affirmative I am immediately rushed by the younger children while the older ones wait at a discrete distance. They have learned not overwhelm their parents if they are to receive their share of juice.

And even in the early morning Jooosbefore I leave for work I have been greeted by the little footsteps of #6 and his usual question, “Jooos?” Sometimes he greets me with the bottle he went to bed with, while at other times he presents the bottle half filled with milk that we have been missing for two weeks.

I have also known him to try to head me off. I come into the kitchen to find him standing among the contents that was once within the small cupboard filled with the plastic cups and bottles. It seems that the cup he was after was at the back of the cupboard. “Jooos?”cups on the floor