Charles has always enjoyed the idea of living in obscurity. For the first several years of being homeowners, we were quite successful at it.
The lawn was mowed once a week, the various beds around the house were neatly manicured and the flag flew proudly on appropriately celebratory days. During the holiday seasons we had just enough decorations to join in on the celebration without drawing too much attention to ourselves.
Save for a few parties to celebrate birthdays or the tacky pink flamingo’s in the front yard, our home was just another on our quiet street in River City.
And then we became parents.
Once the children were born, had grown a few years and began venturing outside, our family was known to provide a nearly constant stream of entertainment for our neighbors. Tug-of-wars of the literal and the verbal kind, chalk art of various colors, sizes and messages (all drawn by innocents, tho not all innocent in content), toys tossed about and sometimes forgotten in the wee hours of dusk, and the occasionally open-all-night garage door are but a few of the typical types of entertainment we’ve contributed.
It’s usually the verbal disagreements that provide the greatest source of excitement as the kids are complete opposites of each other. Their interactions are often akin to a miniature version of the ‘The Odd Couple’ only you never know what direction the current ‘episode’ is going to go.
That, and the form of communication our kids prefer when they’ve been put into time-outs.
Given that their rooms are located on the same side of the house with only a common wall separating their individual spaces, it didn’t take them very long to learn how to use the heat vents to continue their arguments. Once they discovered that everyone in the house could hear what they were saying ‘vent speaking’ came to an end.
Now they’ve taken to jimmying loose their window screens, sticking their heads out of their windows and yelling at each other. An arm or two is often added in to articulate their point. This wouldn’t normally be a concern, unless you knew that their rooms are on the second floor overlooking the concrete driveway.
Often they do this to continue the argument that resulted in them ‘spending time apart’, and other times it’s a form of mutual commiseration against Mama, ‘who has certainly lost her mind’ or so the girl says.
Given the acoustical arrangement of the house, we inside cannot hear them – but the neighbors are privy to each and every word.
I’m told that, for the most part, our neighbors don’t pay much attention except to reflect on their own child-rearing days – but on occasion they will stop and listen to the ruckus. Typically after a moment of observation and a chuckle or two, they go on about their business and laugh about it a little more later on.
It was on one especially hot day a few Augusts ago, that BW and JB woke up in especially prickly moods. Bickering began before each emerged by yelling through closed doors and pounding on walls, the nit-picking continued through the morning hours and our typical distraction of heading off to the pool was dismissed quickly as we were waterlogged from too many days already spent there. Our normally comfortable house grew more confining by the moment.
After a battle of wills during lunch, JB was sent to her room for a chance to cool off and after some reflection, hopefully have an attitude adjustment. BW was sent outside to clean up toys from the prior days adventures.
Twenty or so minutes into her time-out, a blood-curdling scream came from the direction of her room. Afraid that the threats of falling out of the window and crashing to the concrete finally came true, I raced out to the front of the house anticipating the worse.
I did not find a child sprawled upon the ground. No, I found a sopping wet girl with fistfuls of Lego’s hanging out the window, a driveway covered with Lego’s, and an equally angry boy who, while holding onto a turgid and unruly hose, was scrambling across the drive picking up random Lego pieces with his free hand.
Through mutual screaming back and forth between the girl and boy, I was able to piece together what led to the scream that brought me outdoors.
JB, seeing her best friend playing in the yard next door, was hanging out of her window socializing, when in a flash of brilliance, the boy took the hose and sprayed water two stories up hitting Dot full on in the face.
After a moment of pure shock followed by the scream and then anger, JB began throwing handful of Lego’s at the boy while screeching at him.
Seeing his beloved Lego’s bouncing off the concrete and landing in the grass led him to threaten her of further water damage as he madly scrambled to pick up his tiny pieces of plastic joy.
Just as they were finished telling me what happened, their frustrations bubbled over and the fight began in earnest. I’d finally had enough of the day just as Lego’s showered down upon me and a cold blast of water landed square on my chest amidst the angry soundtrack of the day.
It was while I was ‘opening a can of whoop-ass’ as Charles calls it, that he happened to arrive home from work. Just as quickly as it had begun, the show was over – both offspring cheered “Daddy’s home!” and raced to greet him.
It was then that I noticed the neighbors that had gathered for the show. Waving to them, I almost wanted to cheer – “Thanks for attending the show, be sure to tell all your friends about it! Repeat performance tonight at 7 when it’s time for them to come in for bed.”
Jennifer confirmed my suspicions a couple of weeks later, when we began chatting after checking for mail. Apparently it was quite a show, but not the wildest one the block had ever seen.
“But you were close.”
Of that, I am most certainly thankful. But then, I’d hate to see what the kids come up with next, and what they’d have to do to be the wildest show.
I hope I haven’t jinxed myself. Or Charles.