When you combine high curiosity and low impulse control you pretty much have my son.
Thomas has high-functioning autism, which in his case means the words “perspective” and “consequence” are nonsensical noises like the teachers’ voices in Peanuts videos: mwhah, mwhah, mwhah-mwhah. He wants to see what would happen if… without thinking it all the way through. It’s not that he’s trying to do wicked things; they just happen when he’s around. Whirling Dervish? Check. Evil Genius? Check. Trouble on Toast? Check, check, check. He’s cute, and funny, and sweeter than sweet can be, but that boy has a positive talent for creating chaos out of nothing, in no time at all.
My father-in-law stopped by the other day, and my husband, daughter and I were standing in the living room visiting with him when Thomas casually slipped by us and headed upstairs. Usually our bedroom door is locked, and so is our daughter’s – a routine precaution in our house – so we didn’t worry too much.
In the midst of the conversation a smallish silence from above catches my attention. Mommy Senses tingling, I call up to my son: “Hey, Bud? Whatcha doing?”
Me, now more urgently: “Thomas? What are you doing?”
There’s a gasp, a thud of footfalls, and the clink of the toilet lid being slammed up.
I wait, listening for the sound of him using the bathroom, but instead I hear an almost instant thudding down of the lid, a flush, then hurrying feet and a slamming door.
This can’t be good.
I take the stairs two at a time. Thomas is standing in front of the bathroom door, a furtive look on his face.
“What are you doing?”
“What kind of nothing?” I grill.
“Nothing?” Thomas’s eyes slide to his sister’s door, which I see is standing open.
“What did you flush?” I ask, but I don’t wait for an answer. I fling open the toilet lid.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this.
In the bowl a large, furry, bewildered guinea pig face is staring up at me as water swirls around his feet. It’s not always easy to divine what pets are thinking, but “Holy Whirlpool, Batman!” pretty much sums it up. (That and “whoa-a-a— dude!”)
My husband correctly interprets “GAHHH!” as an invitation to hustle up the stairs three at a time, and he appears in the doorway as I’m scooping my daughter’s befuddled guinea pig out of the pot and into a towel. One look at the wet pet and the small boy and he doesn’t even have to ask what happened.
“Thomas, we don’t put Percy in the toilet. Ever,” Matt tells him seriously, as if this sentence is totally normal.
“Percy doesn’t like it,” I add, drying Percy’s wet feet. “Mommy doesn’t like it. It’s not okay.”
Thomas nods solemnly.
Grandpa and Megan join us in the bathroom and express concern for Percy, but he’s fine. He’s quite sturdy – there’s no way he’d have fit down the drain, luckily – and while he still looks a bit bewildered he’s otherwise none the worse for his spa adventure. His whiskers twitch inquisitively and his black eyes shine as they peer out of the folds of the towel.
“Mommy?” Thomas asks, sweetly.
I sigh and ask, “What, Bud?”
“Can I hold Percy?”
The instantaneous, “NO!” from Matt, Grandpa, Megan and I ricochets off the walls. I’m pretty sure Percy sighed in relief.
So, in case you were wondering if guinea pigs like swimming, the answer is no, no they don’t. And if you were wondering if one minute and thirty seconds is too long for Thomas to go unsupervised, the answer is yes, yes it is.
Now we all know.