Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Things that go bump in the night... or early morning

Long Suffering Spouse and I thought we were pretty smart on New Year's Eve. Middle Son went to a party in Michigan -- at a friend's summer cottage -- in the Snow Belt. He was staying overnight. Younger Daughter found a party invitation much closer -- but she too was invited to spend the night. We assented.

Eventually, Youngest Son also found someone to invite him to spend the night. We agreed.

See, our plan was that we wouldn't have to worry then about them getting home. They could enjoy the evening -- and we could have a little peace of mind. As a parent, it's not the New Year's revels I mind half so much as the necessity of avoiding the other revelers on the way home. We very strictly enjoined each of the kids that they could stay at the places they were going... and they could not leave.

It would just be the three of us at home, then, on New Year's Eve... me, my wife and my sinus infection. Ah, romance.

I got my first scare of the evening at 11:00pm. The phone rang.

Now I realize the kids think nothing about talking on the phone at 1:00am or 2:00am or 3:00am or whenever they get in, get bored, or remember something they needed to say to someone else. But my blood runs cold when the phone rings late in the evening. For a lot of people -- I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this -- phone calls late at night mean disease or disaster and maybe even death.

I was reconciled to the phone ringing at midnight on New Year's Eve. My wife wants all the kids to call in so they can wish each other a Happy New Year.

But 11:00? Something, I thought, was surely wrong.

But it was only Older Daughter, calling from her party in Indianapolis. Indianapolis runs an hour ahead of Chicago. Thus it was midnight there. She'd call again at our midnight, too, because I guess that made it twice as official. Whatever. Long Suffering Spouse coaxed me down from the ceiling in time to field the various calls at midnight Central Standard Time.

We both dozed off thereafter, watching TV, just as on any other night, and eventually one of us woke up enough to get the other to go upstairs to bed. We debated about locking the front door as we went by. Long Suffering Spouse advised against it, but I said we might as well. After all, it was already well past midnight. But the kids don't have keys, my wife said. (They don't ordinarily carry house keys because you can't lose what you don't have -- and no one else can find what you didn't lose either.)

I was not concerned, I told her. If anyone's plans had changed, we'd know about it by now, I said. And anyway, I added, we'd surely be up long before any teenager or 20-something began to stir. I locked the door.

And, just as you'd expect, Long Suffering Spouse and I were both beginning to stir as the sky outside was just beginning to go from dark to medium gray. My wife was more awake than I was; she heard the noise first.

"There's someone in the house!" she hissed.

Now I know that this is a cliche in old movies and sitcoms -- the wife who hears the noise and the dubious husband who is forced to investigate. But I listened for a moment and I heard the noise too!

I am not real wild about the prospect of confronting a home invader in my PJs, but I was even less enthused about my wife doing so. So I jumped out of bed and ran to the stairs, Long Suffering Spouse right with me and both of us mighty scared.

That's where we found Youngest Son, clomping up the stairs like all three billy goats gruff going across the troll's bridge all at once.

Researchers say that the teenage brain is still developing throughout adolescence. This is why kids sometimes make dumb decisions. Youngest Son might have called the house from his cell phone when he discovered that the front door was locked. But he didn't.

Instead, with the temperature below zero (Fahrenheit), Youngest Son wandered around the outside of the house looking for a window to force. He managed to squeeze in through a kitchen window that my wife sometimes opens, even in Winter, when the stove or oven is on too long. She must have forgotten to lock it after the last such occasion. Youngest Son found a garbage wagon, wheeled it underneath the window, crawled up on it (denting it in the process) and thence through the window and onto the stairs.

After all, standing out in the cold, who wouldn't choose to fiddle with trying to break into the house for 30 minutes over making a 30 second phone call?

It seems that one of the kids with whom Youngest Son was staying -- the son of the host family, in fact -- became violently ill in the wee small hours of the morning. Rather than expose himself to the presumably communicable germs, Youngest Son chose to absent himself from the premises. I had one question: "Do the kid's parents know you're gone?" He assured me that they knew.

Later, Youngest Son's older siblings would be less accepting of this story -- it had been, after all, New Year's Eve -- which prompted them to speculate that the illness from which the other boy suffered might not have been contagious. Not unless Youngest Son drank from the same bottle. If you know what I mean. But I saw nothing at the moment of initial confrontation to arouse my suspicions.

Youngest Son continued on to bed. But Long Suffering Spouse and I were now thoroughly awake.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

and they all had a lovely happy new year in their warm beds. the end.

perfect story!

smiles, bee