A friend emailed me this week and invited me to an online event on Friday night. I told her that I would love to be there, but Brian was going to be a men’s camping retreat with church so I was going to be on my own with the four kids. I said that I would be there, barring any unforeseen chaos.
I actually used the word “chaos” in my email to her. I learned a lesson this week.
Don’t use “chaos” in reference to something you are hoping doesn’t happen with three boys and a foster daughter. I also shouldn’t play the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic as it has the line “With every broken bone I swear I lived.” It’s only setting myself up for failure.
Because chaos will happen. Just as an event reminder popped up in my email, I heard the older two boys laughing downstairs.
“Great, they are occupied. I’ll finish this work, take care of the two little ones, and then I can sit down for the event.”
Blood curdling scream.
I sat there in stunned silence. I have heard way too many screams around here (par for the course with multiple boys) and have learned to identify what has happened based on their tenor. This one wasn’t good. It was the scream that I heard that time when someone who shall remain nameless attempted to throw a five pound weight on top of the bunk bed, missed, and it crashed down on Luke’s foot. Two months later, three casts, four sets of X-rays, and no pool time that summer, life finally went back to normal. Except that this time this scream came from Ethan.
Ethan came jumping up to me on one foot and giggled nervously, “Um Mom, I think I broke a bone. I, umm, I kicked the fridge.”
And “With every broken bone I swear I lived” played. We’ve always considered this Luke’s song, but now… well… sometimes God does give you more than you can handle.
Chaos that night meant that I spent the evening getting ice, checking in with my awesome former orthopedic about what I should do, and carrying my ten year old wherever he needed to go. While Ethan just turned ten last week, he looks a lot older and is already five feet tall and weighs 75 pounds. Luckily he thought my manhandling him around the house was hilarious… as did the one year old who laughed every time she saw him in my arms all while on my own with the four kids.
I found out there was a lot more to the “I kicked the fridge” story too… Apparently Luke forgot how to do a Tae Kwon Do side kick so Ethan demonstrated for him in what is literally the tightest spot in the house. There is now sufficient evidence to prove that the not quite three foot gap between the counter and the fridge does not provide enough room for Tae Kwon Do. Ethan has been banned from any more “ninja-ing” in the house.
It doesn’t really surprise me though that this happened. There is something that runs deep inside my boys that pushes them to be heroic. Everything they do is some sort of epic adventure around here from kicking the fridge, to going to the play place at McDonalds.
We were there last week when I heard Jackson bust out the Fellowship of the Ring theme music from the Lord of the Rings movies at the top of the play structure. Whenever I hear him singing that I check on him immediately; usually it indicates that he is about to do something suspect. No word yet on what he was thinking when he started singing the Black Riders theme when I made him clean his room… We’re always worried when he starts singing the Imperial March.
I routinely find Nerf guns and foam swords hidden in their bed sheets, presumably in case they are attacked in the middle of the night. It’s common to see them and the neighborhood boys decked out in every piece of protective gear they own: hockey pads, Ninja Turtle shells, football helmets, soccer shin guards, plastic suits of armor, Captain America shields, and Darth Vader helmets as they run around trying to invade each other’s “bases” as they attack with Nerf guns.
Just tonight, my parents gave Jackson a Batman mask and cape for his fourth birthday and as soon as it was on, he bolted out of the house to go defend the neighborhood.
We’ve had broken bones, stitches, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and concussions. I’ve tried to explain that adventure can come at a cost and they still think it is worth it. Somehow we lose this sense of reckless abandon for better or for worse as we grow.
I’d love them to keep some of that since it’s easy to become risk adverse as we get older. We can be too comfortable to be able to do anything really grand since most things truly worthwhile come at a cost. The trick is just knowing when to pay it. I think that is my biggest parenting dilemma right now: teaching the kids the wisdom to know when something is a valuable risk or when you are just kicking a fridge. I don’t want them to ever pass up on a valuable risk if it’s something that God has for them even if it doesn’t end well. Good things sometimes end badly and that’s okay. Kicking a fridge never ends well and has no potential to ever do so.
Luckily, Ethan started running around today and it looks like we’ve avoided a cast for a second summer in a row. I’ve threatened to bubble wrap them, though.
They giggled and begged for me to do that because they wanted to pop the bubbles by crashing into things.