I have got to give my son points for creativity because he really did it this time.
It was after dinner and the kids were playing inside and outside, mainly to drive me crazy with all the snow they were tracking through my dining room. After about an hour, I noticed Peter and Aili were inside and Robert was nowhere to be seen. Robert is not one for playing outside to begin with, so it was really unusual for him to be outside alone. I asked Peter to go tell him to come inside for some hot chocolate. Peter came back empty-handed and told me Robert didn’t want to come inside. Now, if there is one thing that motivates Robert, it’s the promise of a sweet treat. My Spider-Mom senses were tingling. Something was Very Wrong.
“Tell him to come in NOW,” I said to Peter who skittered out the door as fast as his boots would carry him.
Peter returned with Robert who, I was told, had been camping out in my car. I asked Robert if he wanted hot chocolate and shook his head “no” and then bee-lined it to the couch where he covered himself in a blanket.
“Are you feeling sick? Does something hurt? What’s wrong?”
Robert avoided all my questions. But still, there he sat, looking sad and avoiding eye contact. Finally, I hit the right question.
“Did you break something?”
He nodded and the tears started flowing.
I told him it was okay and that I promised not to get mad at him if he told me what happened.
“The ceiling fan,” Robert sobbed.
With a sense of dread, I went up to Robert’s room, the scene of the crime.
When I opened the door, the ceiling fan was dangling as if it had been hung for crimes against humanity. The fan blades dragged on the ground limply and the whole mechanism swayed slowly from the wiring that had been wrenched out of the ceiling. A gaping hole fed the exposed wires to the poor, pathetic fan. The fan itself was dressed in belts from bath robes that were looped over the fan blades and then tied to a laundry basket.
I didn’t want to get electrocuted so, I called my dad for backup. Don’t judge me. When I was listing off the different color wires I could see, I felt like I was asking for instructions on how to diffuse a bomb.
Robert was still upset when I came back downstairs to wait for Dad to come and help me out. I wanted to be angry, but he was showing the appropriate emotion for the situation. (This is one of the many things we have been having problems with for him.) He was feeling sorry and sad that he broke something he knew was going to be a Big Deal to me. So, I chose to remain calm and told him I wasn’t mad at him for breaking the fan but that he should have told me right away. I ran through the typical Mom List of Dangers to make my point. “What if it started a fire? What if someone else touched the wires and was electrocuted?) We had a good hug, and Robert calmed down.
“So, um,” I started. “How did this happen?”
Robert still looked like he wasn’t sure he trusted our truce on the subject of the fan. “Well, I was trying to make a swinging basket for the cats to sleep in. When I put Artie in it, he was too fat and the fan crashed down.”
I am not really sure what I expected.
“Yeah…uh…Don’t do that again, okay?”
Robert nodded sadly.
“Oh, and Robert,” I added. “I won’t yell at you about the fan. But, Grandpa is coming over to help me fix it.”
Robert’s eyes went wide. He was thinking the same thing I was thinking. My dad is a lot like a bear. He can be the cuddly kind who is jolly and funny while he innocently catches salmon, or he can eat an entire troop of camping scouts in a blind rage. And right now, Robert looks a lot like a little boy scout.