|More about this bag of tortilla chips later.|
The other day, I went to pick Jovie up from a friend's house. As usual, I lingered a bit to catch up with Janna, her friend's mom. I'd been feeling a little lonely this week – the house extra quiet; I was desperate for some social interaction. So, while the girls served us torn up bits of pita ("Those are raspberries," Jovie told me. "They're made of ham.") and crushed tortilla chips from their basement "snack stand" (two upended kid's easy chairs pushed together to form a table) we embarked on a fragmented conversation about this and that. Because any conversation between two mothers is fragmented when the kids are underfoot. Not unlike crushed tortilla chips, in fact.
"Where's Graham?" I asked casually - hoping to steal a hug from her rosy-cheeked 2 year old, who was normally shuffling around in the vicinity of his sisters, trains or race cars in tow.
Janna paused. Glanced around the room. He wasn't there. And there were no sounds coming from overhead ... no tell tale little feet. No babbling or soft giggles. Only silence.
"Excuse me," she said running up the stairs.
Jovie told me all about the tortilla chips she was going to take home for Lily and I attempted to make the girls laugh by inventing weird nicknames for them. After a few minutes, I told Jovie it was time to get her shoes and we went upstairs, too.
"Everything OK?" I yelled.
Janna appeared at the bannister on the second floor, deliberately unwinding a wire coat hanger and looking a bit flustered.
"I'm so sorry. Graham locked himself in our bathroom."
"Can I help?"
"No, no. He's done it before. I'll figure it out."
But I'm the mother of two small children who once locked themselves in their bedroom and used poster paint to decorate their carpet. I'm the mother of two small children who once pointed the garden hose into the sunroom and squeezed the nozzle. I'm the mother who has had to crawl through a bedroom window to break into the house my 4 year old had locked me out of.
I am a mother who has witnessed some kid-induced bullshit. And as that mother, I wasn't about to leave another mom, who was frantically MacGyvering some sort of medieval door lever, on her own to just "figure it out."
I went upstairs. And took a deep breath and invaded my friend's privacy.
"There's laundry all over the bed," she apologized.
"I'm not looking at the bed," I said. "Let's figure this out."
It turned out Graham hadn't locked himself in the bathroom, not really.
What he'd done was open a drawer in the vanity that prevented the bathroom door from opening more than an inch. In the small crack he left we could see a few things.
The first was the bathroom sink, filled to the brim with various bottles of lotion and soap and toiletries and also toilet paper. The water was running, naturally.
The second was the open drawer, which could've probably been closed with the unwound coat hanger, except for the fact that it contained a large pink bucket (as well as water, dripping from the sink).
The third was Graham. Who would periodically wander down the vanity countertop in striped footie pajamas to say hi and give us the cutest smile this side of baby harp seals.
"Grahammy," Janna sang. "Grahammy, can you close the drawer honey? Close the drawer!"
And Graham would half-heartedly try to push the drawer closed. And then go back to whatever he was doing (which we mostly couldn't see, cuz we only had that inch of space).
The hullabaloo lured the girls to the bedroom. Where they proceeded to shriek at the drama of the situation, running around in circles between peeking through the door crack.
Generally, just not being helpful at all.
I ushered them downstairs. Then returned to the bedroom.
"If you offered him a treat would he want to come out?" I asked.
"Grahammy, Grahammy," Janna crooned. "Do you want some chocolate? If you opened the door, you can have some chocolate."
Graham came back over to the door, babbling in glee. He tried to pull it open but couldn't. (Because drawer with pink bucket, obvies).
"Take the bucket out Graham!" we urged. "Take the bucket out and you can close the drawer and have chocolate!"
But Graham had given up on the drawer and his dreams of chocolate.
"Do you have like, a stick or a dowel or something?" I asked "Maybe we could push the bucket out. Maybe a wooden spoon."
Janna continued working her hanger and pleading with Graham. I went to the kitchen and found a strainer with a long wooden handle. Back upstairs, I used the strainer and eventually hooked the bucket's handle causing it to levitate mysteriously in front of Graham. We heard laughter and exclamations from behind the door. Then the bucket fell. Back into the drawer.
But we were so close. I continued jabbing at the bucket. Soon, it fell to the floor. We pushed the drawer closed, flung open the door and turned off the water.
There was little Graham, playing with closed containers of various bathroom products. Not especially upset that he hadn't been able to get out. He was totally fine, save for maybe being a little warm (the bathroom was a bit muggy - he must've turned on the hot water.)
And Janna and I? We had a long, luscious laugh. Because no one was hurt and because no property was really all that damaged (aside from some unsalvageable toilet paper) and because the situation was ridiculous and because we're moms and we know that day's ridiculousness was ripe fodder for tonight's dinner table conversation and for various parties, holidays and family parties for years to come.
"Remember that time Graham locked himself in the bathroom and we had to rescue him with a wooden-handled strainer?" will be family lore.
Just like that time I proudly announced to guests at an office party my dad was throwing that I had "buggies in my hair" and they all laughed and thought I was cute because they didn't quite grasp that they were chatting with a louse-infected 3 year old. Or, that time my little brother took a swim in the toilet fully clothed. Or, all the times Lily pooped in the bathtub when she was a baby. Or, the time my neighbor knocked on the front door and told me that "he got something" and by "he" my neighbor meant Snacks and by "something" he meant a dead squirrel that I had to wrench from his mouth. I will now never forget the sound squirrel bones make as they're being chewed.
As I was loading Jovie in the car, relieved that this time I wasn't the one who was going to have to clean up an absurd mess or discuss the appropriate consequence for unapproved bathroom activities, Jovie reminded me about the chips she'd wanted to give to Lily. I didn't see her bag in her hands and didn't want to bother Janna.
I groaned, fearing another fire to have to put out. I was about to tell her we'd just give Lily some of the tortilla chips at our house when Jovie proceeded to reach down into her underpants and pull out ... wait for it ... her bag of tortilla chips.
"They taste better from my butt," she told me.
See, cuz that's the thing about being a mom. The second you feel like you've been granted a reprieve for the day – the second you start to feel safe and maybe even a little bit smug that you're not the one left to pick up the pieces of yet another kid-induced disaster – humility smacks you across the face with a bag of munchies stored in your 4-year-old's undercarriage for safekeeping.
In the oft-repeated, borrowed phrase of my own mother, who's witnessed the kid-induced bullshit of six children: "There but for the grace of God go I."