It's a magical age, I tell you.
One of the best/worst things about being twelve is Intrepid's ability to contain the younger gremlins while we leave the nest in search of coffee or building materials or new vans. We've been able to see my friend's band without any phone calls, go to Bastette the Sponsee's dirty thirty (she's getting terribly old and decrepit, isn't she?) and even just peruse the aisles at the grocery store reading labels and finding sales. It's been a wonderful few months of
But I did say it's the best/worst thing, didn't I? And that's because there are occasionally issues with an older brother minding younger brothers. No matter how well we train him, he's still a brother first and foremost. There was the time we came home to Gutsy crying - an hour past his bedtime - because he was too scared to go to sleep. Why? Because Intrepid told him if he was that angry about brushing his teeth he should probably see a psychiatrist, who is a type of doctor that can lock you up in a mental institution away from your family if they think you're crazy.
But sweet dreams, Gutsy!
We had a little talk after that. A little talk about not scaring the absolute crap out of your brother as that is not conducive to getting him to bed on time.
But that's the thing about entrusting the young to watch the young. Occasionally they will make bad choices. Like on Sunday, for example, when we figured Intrepid could have his friend over while we went out for an hour to the grocery store.
"Just find something to do with them that will keep them busy and you'll be fine," I said cheerily.
All appeared well when we came home. The first test is to listen outside by the front door and check for really loud screams. If any are detected it's recommended you go back to the car and head out for coffee for another hour so the whole mess can be sorted out. Really loud screaming is an early warning system for a completely ruined day if you dare walk through the doorway.
If you do step into the house and notice any yelling it's probably too late. If someone is upset enough they'll likely be somewhere near the front door waiting to pounce on you with complaints about how cruel someone else is being. You'll be detected in no time and any hope of escape to the blissful sounds of steaming milk are long gone.
In this particular case we heard none of those things. All seemed to be status quo. We like those days. We get back and everyone's watching a movie or playing a board game or building train tracks. It's quite lovely to breathe in some sanity as it's a rarity at Casa Maven.
But then something caught my eye. Dropping my shopping bags I walked into the living room only to discover a large space of floor completely cleared. It's a sizeable room to begin with as it was built onto the back of the house, so why did they need so much clear space? What were they doing?
The table was pushed against the window, the chairs stacked on top of it. What few toys were on the ground were now moved into a pile by the china cabinet (containing, I might add, some actual china I recently inherited from my late grandmother). Across from the china cabinet is an open cubby-like shelf full of breakables. The space around that was also cleared out. What was going on?
Gutsy bounded across the floor, a trickle of sweat on his brow. "Hi, Mom! We were just playing dodgeball!"
Bad choice! Bad choice!
No you were not. This is some kind of joke.
It was quickly apparent that it wasn't some kind of joke. Damn. "But Mom," Intrepid tried to explain when he saw the shocked look on my face, "We're not anywhere near the t.v., so it's fine, right?"
Just when you think you've explained all the rules you realize how very, very wrong you are.
Just when you think you've instilled common sense into your children, you realize that a twelve-year-old, no matter how bright, is still a twelve-year-old.