“What was all the screaming about?” I asked as I stepped through the front door. I had just returned to the house after attempting to help my next-door neighbor’s daughter get her car started. This is the next door neighbor who hates me, told me that I have traumatized her children, and once declared in reference to my children that she was relieved that her children lived in the real world. She must have been desperate to call me.
I had heard raised voices coming from within the house while attempting to jump start the neighbor’s car, but nothing that alarmed me. My children bicker. Then I received a phone call from The Oldest. He was out-of-breath, as if he had just run around the block. “Where are you? Please come home!” he begged.
“Dad, he was out of control!” exclaimed the 19-year-old Karate black belt, in response to my question. “He reached for a weapon. I had to stop him!”
What happened? Why did The Middle Child grab a weapon and attempt to harm his older and stronger brother?
It all started with cheese.
The Girl decided to make herself a cheese sandwich for breakfast. She successfully opened the bread bag and removed two slices of bread. She placed them on the paper plate that she took out of the cupboards completely on her own. Then she confronted the zip-lock cheese bag. Those give her trouble. In fairness to The Girl, they give me trouble, too; but, without a fully functioning lefty, they are particularly troublesome for my youngest. Never to be slowed down by her impairment, The Girl grabbed a pair of scissors and went to work. She would have her cheese. That’s when The Middle Child started to come unglued. You see, it wasn’t just any cheese bag she was cutting open. It was a bag of Muenster cheese. His favorite!
“Dad!” he exclaimed, wincing from the pain in his neck. “She used scissors to cut open the cheese bag. It won’t reseal after that!”
“Is that when you lost control of yourself?” I asked.
“Yes,” he moaned. “I tried to help her, but she refused.”
“Hey, I’m a big girl now!” The Girl cried. “I don’t need his help.”
The Middle Child continued his defense. “And she cut through the cheese, too! We could get sick from food poisoning!”
“How did you hurt your neck?”
“Dad, he went nuts,” explained The Oldest. “He started screaming and yelling and slamming cabinet doors.”
“He yelled ‘bullsh*t!’ twice” added The Girl.
“When he gets this angry he throws things. I thought he was going to hurt himself the way he was storming through the house. I put him in a bear hug. That’s when he went nuts!” The Oldest continued. “He was thrashing and yelling. He made his way over to the counter and reached for a weapon.”
“What did you reach for?” I asked The Middle Child. There were no knives or scissors on the counter.
“A fly swatter,” he mumbled.
I looked at The Oldest. “A fly swatter?”
“A FLY SWATTER?” I asked again, a grin spreading across my face.
“You can do a lot of damage with that thing!” he exclaimed.
I'll have to speak with our Sensei about teaching us fly swatter defense. Maybe there's a Kata for that.
I looked at The Middle Child. “Is that when you wrenched your neck?”
“Yeah…” he replied.
“He yelled ‘bullsh*t’ twice!” The Girl reminded me. Clearly, I wasn’t quenching her thirst for justice by not addressing this salient point.
The Middle Child has spent the last 24 hours grabbing his neck and moaning. It will be a few days before he returns to normal, and both his regularly scheduled bowling on Wednesday and golf on Thursday are big question marks. There is no punishment that I can give him that will teach him better than his inability to move without looking like Quasimodo. I’ve asked The Oldest to keep his hands off of his brother during his remaining three weeks of living at home. I'll deal with any temper tantrums involving insect extermination devices. The surviving seven slices of Muenster Cheese are living safely in a one gallon zip lock bag in the refrigerator. And last night, as The Girl and I drove to Karate, she looked at me earnestly and exclaimed, “Dad, you don’t understand. He yelled ‘bullsh*t’ twice!”
Can I go back to Poland now?