Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tight Spots

I chuckled empathetically to see how precious Rhema looks, at 4, climbing into (or out of) this washing machine. Flooding my mind's eye are tight spots Reid has sought and found over his lifespan. From the recyling bin on the windowsill of our cellar stairs in Chicago to the built-in china hutch by the back door, he is like a little caterpillar finding choice spots to form a crysalis and hang for a couple months.

I remember losing him temporarily at a Home Depot once. Allie and I had a search-and-recover plan devised by then. I was relieved to hear the calm in her voice as she merely pointed, "Mom..." He was happily jabbering in a stack of 18" resin planters in the Garden Center.

Last night Allie and Kat were laughing uncontrollably on their pillows. This morning I asked, "what was sooo funny?" They were howling over an after-school moment that I hadn't realized was so hysterical. Pour quoi pas? Once they explained, I see the joke was on me this time.

Situational comedy requires a backstory. You got time?

Reid's been pining for an aluminum garbage can for awhile. The plastic yard waste ones we have are just not adequate to reenact the Sesame Street episode in which Oscar the Grouch releases a balloon from his can. For one, they don't have lids. For two, well they're not metal.

This fixation is relatively new but has led to some awkward moments in public and around the house. Define awkward, you say.

Well, it's just a pain to have to search for the garbage can when you have something to pitch. As imaginary props, ours are migrating to isolated corners of the house and yard. I don't feel it is the best use of my time to pick up rolls of discarded plastic garbage can liners in the garage. I prefer not to deal with the quizzical stares in waiting rooms, lobbies and department stores when Reid approaches every trash receptacle in sight. He removes the contents, turns his back to it, squats slightly, then tries it on for size. Awkward? Embarrassing? Will you give me idiosyncratic?

I can deal with it. It's not exactly a safety matter yet, neither is it a life skill we want to encourage. When Jim witnesses it (usually over the weekend) he undoubtedly asks, "why is he doing that?" To which I whine, "I don't knooow." Could be that Reid's new job at school is to empty waste cans. Could be the Oscar obsession. Could be sensory. Bottom line, it's just weird and blows our cover when we're "pretending to be normal" in the words of Liane Holliday Willey.

Much like the decision to get u-verse (and pre-empt a trespassing felony) I called Jim yesterday and said, "Are you anywhere near Dixieline Lumber?" He had the day off and I'd already gone once for lightbulbs.

"I could be," he mused.

I got right to the point, "Will you pick up that aluminum can? I know they have 'em. Reid spied it the other day." I had talked him into putting it on the perpetual wishlist. "Christmas is coming....," I'd intoned.

"Are you sure it won't turn into an obsession?" Jim wondered warily.

"I'm not sure of anything but we're outside Henry's Marketplace and he's getting into theirs, so just get one," I lovingly replied.

Since Jim has been a saint lately, he obliged us both. Reid ran into the house, picked up the can in a giant bear hug maneuver and brought it into the kitchen. The balloon he'd talked about putting into it and releasing had long since bit the dust. So, what would you do? Be the balloon, as they say in sports psychology. Reid hopped right in, Oscar-the-Grouch style. Only thing is, he's 15 not 4.

I was distracted emptying grocery bags, reconnoitering with Jim and Kat, settling Allie and a friend into their after-school routine and famished from skipping lunch. Picture commotion. When a frantic plea was broadcast, "Mom! get me out of here!"

Reid was folded in half, butt first in the can. Head and feet protruding from the top.

Bear in mind, this is just par for the course around here. It was my sudden response that threw them into hysterics. With the confidence that comes from years of practice, I darted over, grabbed him under the shoulders and pulled with all my might. Any mother would do the same, right? Christopher Robin to the rescue!

Apparently, this works better with toddlers. My adrenaline was not enough even with a foot shoved into the bottom of the can for leverage. He didn't budge. Thinking quickly (and fearing escalation and panic) I tipped it over as if pouring out a 50-pound bag of Alpo. Reid's feet were on the ground then, so he more or less walked out of it as we slipped the can off him like a candle snuffer.

Wish I had a picture for you. Maybe this afternoon. Unless of course, that natural consequence has extinguished the behavior.

Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you 1 Samuel 23:22-24

Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?"
Luke 14:4-6

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-24


  1. Great post! We gave up pretending to be normal a long, long time ago. Quirkiness is just in our blood, so we're forced to go with it.

  2. O.K., the Bible verses did me in. HAHAHAHA!!!! Rhema (actually age 5, going on 6! Oy!) has gotten into the trash can a few times before as well, and her favorite is wearing the trash can on her head.

    Oh, don't you love it? God just knew you'd be bored without a son jumping into garbage cans in public, trying to re-enact a Sesame Street episode. 8)

    Thanks for the laugh!