Michael Mayhem

I capitulate, and confess: my fourth-born has officially outstripped my third-born for the title of Trouble. In fact, he has a new name: Michael Mayhem.

And he’s so quiet about it, too. You never know it’s happening until it’s a fait accompli.

I took Alex to his piano lesson yesterday afternoon–with all four kids in tow. When we arrived, we came inside long enough to collect his teacher’s youngest child to come outside and play. She mentioned that she’d quarantined another child in his room since he had strep. And then I happened to glance down. Michael had something long and skinny in his mouth and was chewing on it. I took it from him. “Nice,” I said. “A used straw.”

The look that crossed his teacher’s face was one of horror. She’d just thrown away the sick child’s cup, which was…wait for it…missing a straw.

When we came home, we decided to play outside for a bit. Michael loves being outside. He also loves running into the street. Deprived of that, he loves running over to the cul de sac, where there’s a big, nasty puddle that lives in front of the neighbor’s driveway. And slapping his hands in it. Just to make sure he’s good and exposed to every possible pathogen in our immediate environs.

Hands in the toilet. Food off the floor. Emptying the bathroom drawers, chewing on candles, chewing on hair spray bottles, chewing on remote control batteries, reaching for things I’m prevented by marital law from mentioning.

Books ripped to shreds, puzzles thrown here and yonder, bringing up commands no one’s ever heard of on the computer, gashing his cheek on the shower door.

I’m telling you. Mayhem.

And on top of that, we’re not even done with him when he goes to bed. He screams for a while when we put him in bed (that’s new since Christmas, too), then sleeps for half an hour and screams some more. We have to go get him every night. Make that I have to go get him. If Daddy tries to hold him, he works himself into a lather. But as soon as Mommy takes him…snuggle down and shut up. Snuggling is nice, but so is time with my husband. I’m at my wits’ end.

What’s that? Oh, yes, as a matter of fact, he does have a fever this morning. But we’ve had several others with fevers in the last week, so I’m not jumping on the strep bandwagon just yet.

Life is completely beyond me right now. I gave up writing willingly enough for the two weeks of Christmas break, but we cannot seem to get back into the swing of things. We can’t even get the rest of the Christmas decorations down. In the first five days of school, I’ve had two different children home sick on two different days. Plus my own lost twenty-four hours, when the best I could do was sit on the couch and wrap ornaments as the kids handed them to me…and even that required a nap afterward.

Just imagine what the laundry pile looks like right now.

I guess that’s my cue to get off the computer. Or maybe my cue was Michael, ibuprofen-second-wind firmly in hand, coming over to steal the computer mouse from under my nose.