In 1989, Hurricane Hugo ripped through the Caribbean, leaving tremendous destruction in its wake. I was nine months pregnant at the time and living in Ponce, Puerto Rico. My son was born just a few days after the storm hit the island. I should have realized right away that this was some sort of a sign.
I had been forced to spend three months in bed, since Evan thought that nine months was just too long to wait and tried to come early a few times. I would have valued that time a lot more if I had realized it was the last good rest I would have for years.
Right from the start, Evan was a challenge. He ate like a piranha. This would have been a good thing, except that he also vomited like a volcano. I spent most of his first few months changing my clothes.
Before I knew it, he was walking, which meant that his hands were free for other activities. Now, most people have a story of kids flushing an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet. I wish we had been that lucky. It took $175 for the plumber to extract the soap dish from our toilet. It took days for the carpet in the adjoining room to dry. I learned to be wary of that really sincere, smiling precious face which meant “look at my face, not what’s in my hand or behind me”.
Evan had stopped taking naps when he was about 3 months old, and he fell asleep later than Johnny Carson on most nights. This child could outlast anyone, which I guess gave him more time to plan stuff to do. I couldn’t go to bed if he was still awake, even if he was in bed, because I never knew what was going to happen next. I was always expecting to hear the car starting up outside, and the sound of running water anywhere still throws me into a panic. One day I went into the bathroom, and it looked like someone had been cleaning the sink with Comet. No, of course not. It was Plaster of Paris. Someone had wanted to see what would happen. We’re still fishing pieces of plaster out.
Occasionally, even after he had fallen asleep, he would have a restless night, which meant that I would have a sleepless night. For example, one night he woke me up three times, spaced one hour apart for maximum effect. You have to visualize someone suddenly talking right in your ear in the middle of the night.
1:00 a.m. -– “Can I have Matt over to spend the night this weekend?”
2:00 a.m. (just after I had gotten back to sleep) -– “Where’s the hammer?”
And finally, the crusher at 3:00 a.m. (evidently after visiting the garage) — “I didn’t know we had a chain saw!”
He has become more thoughtful as he has gotten older. The other day I noticed him removing the wheels from his skateboard. I assumed he had gotten new wheels, but I guess I’m still naïve. My daughter informed me as I was driving her to a friend’s that he wants to learn some fancy skateboard moves like he has seen on his video game. He was taking the wheels off so that when he jumps off his bunk bed onto the skateboard, the wheels wouldn’t gouge the hardwood floor. Now I call that considerate!
I just don’t understand where he could have gotten this behavior. I do recall a few episodes from my own childhood – filling Mom’s car with “gas” from the water hose, polishing her antique four-poster with face cream when I was supposed to be taking a nap, blowing up the heating pad by fiddling with the controls over and over… I’m sure this is just coincidence.
Of course, for all of you who are parents of boys, I’m preaching to the choir. I’m sure many of you have had your own hurricanes and tornadoes cutting a path through your house, emergency room personnel that know your first name, and deadbolts on the tops of the doors. What I really want to know is, where did you end up hiding the chain saw?