Friday, August 19, 2011

Only with boys...

All right, for anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis, you know we have been struggling with flooding for four months now. We are still fighting it, and yesterday Mike's brother was here with his backhoe, digging what is called a dry well. I don't feel like getting into the details of what a dry well is, because quite frankly, I'm tired of talking about all of our efforts to beat this flood...particularly because we seem to fail with everything we try!

Anyway, all you really need to know is that the day before yesterday, Mike spent the evening getting ready for the backhoe adventures. He had to dig up some equipment that was buried in a hole right against the north side of the house. I'm assuming it was some kind of pump, but I don't know. Not really relevant to my story. So he was standing in this hole, which was a good three feet wide and maybe as deep. It was also full of water, probably a foot deep, so he had to brace his feet on the sides to stay out of the water. The ground is all sand, so it caves in very easily, and the surface of the water was covered in a caramel-brown-ish foam. He was in the hole and I was standing beside it when I saw something splash in the water. Something alive. I had a minor freak out and told him a fish just jumped. Obviously that was impossible, but there was indeed a creature in our brown lagoon. It was a salamander, and a pretty big one at that. Mike could barely see it because its head was the only part out of the water, and it was covered in that foam, but he caught it and I put it in a pail and washed it off. The idea was, we'd leave it in a safe place overnight and let the boys play with it for a while the next day, seeing they have a huge obsession with salamanders.

So, we did, and sure enough, yesterday they played with it and had a great time. I made it very clear that they were not to hurt it, and that at the end of the day it would be released again into the wild. I was gone for the whole afternoon yesterday and did not return until nearly 6 p.m. When I got home, I asked about the salamander and where it was. I asked whether they had let it go. I got some vague and mixed answers. When I asked where it was, Jamie said, "Somewhere", which is a typical response for him. Cody said it escaped and he did not know how. Mike confirmed that it had indeed escaped. Cody told me how sad they were about it, but I told him it was good that it got away because now it gets to live.

Fast forward to today. I am on the phone with my mom, late morning. Cody continually interrupts me, despite promising not to, but he came in from outside with an urgent request that I give him the van keys. What? I demanded to know why he wanted the van keys. He told me it was to get the salamander out. What?? I asked him what he was talking about and he said the salamander was crawling around in the van. I told him that was impossible, seeing it had escaped yesterday. I asked whether the van was locked and he said yes. So I asked him if it was locked, how did he know the salamander was in there. He said Jamie saw it. Oh yes, and that Jamie was on the roof of the van. WHAT???

For kicks, I kept my mom on the phone while I grabbed the keys and followed Cody to the van. Sure enough, Jamie was sitting on the roof, in nothing but his underwear. We don't call him Mowgli for nothing.  I hollered at him to get down from there and never to do that again. Then I unlocked the van and opened the driver's door. On the floor was an ice cream pail with a lid, and slits cut in it so air could get in. I picked it up and tried to see through. Something thumped inside. Great. I opened the lid, and just like they said, a salamander was inside. Well, not exactly as they said. You see, this one was dead and stiff as a board.

I was very disturbed, and more than a little mystified. I let them look at it, told them it was dead, and then, flung its body into the bush where it would never be found again. At least, not by them.

My conclusions about this incident? First, Jamie must have taken the salamander without Cody, or Mike, knowing it, and put it in that pail. Then, he hid it in the van and told nobody. Second, Jamie knows how to climb on top of the vehicle. Third, it seems I will never be able to get Jamie to wear clothing. Fourth, I cannot, cannot, cannot keep up with these boys. And fifth, I will not capture animals for my boys to play with anymore, unless I am there to supervise the entire thing and personally witness the release of said animal.

I suppose it was another lesson on death, but none of them understand. Cody said it would get to go to heaven now. I said no. He said maybe Jesus would bring it back to life again. I said he would not, and that the salamander will never be happy again because it only got one chance and now it is dead. But no matter what I say, the cannot grasp the concept at this point, which is okay, I guess. There are things they cannot understand, just as there are things my female brain cannot grasp, after being raised with only sisters and now having only boys in my home. I learn as I go, but the lessons I learn come from experience rather than some kind of supernatural anticipation so I can prevent these things before they happen. Somehow, I will have to adopt the mindset that truly anything can happen in a household full of boys, and perhaps then I will not be caught by surprise so frequently in their day to day antics. I'll let you know how that goes. I'm off to start the afternoon.

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