Evel Knieval had a mother, too. There are days I wonder how she coped when her son was doing daring things that surely had her scrambling to help him or clean up after him at some point in his youth.
Today, my Evel Knieval decided to put a large wad of paper on top of a lit candle and walk away from it. The candle was on the sill of a window, and the flames were as high as the bottom of the open wooden window. Another child saw it and screamed for help.
Last week, Evel decided to walk home after being dropped off at a babysitter’s and break into our locked house to get his new rocks from the Natural History Museum to show to his friends. Tom called my cell phone to say he’d received a call at work saying that the motion sensors in our house had been set off and that the police were on their way. I was almost to my destination, but turned around. I came home to find my child sitting on our front porch, crying, and a police officer walking up our steps and asking him if he was okay.
My child is brilliant when it comes to taking things apart, even if the deconstruction only occurs in his mind. When we were on the Shinkansen on the way to Hokkaido, he located the emergency door-control panels, fire extinguisher, English guide to the route, and bathrooms — all within the first ten minutes of boarding.
He also quickly wanders off on his little quests of discovery. My first good scare occurred when he first start crawling. We were at a wedding and he swiftly crawled away from the kids’ play area. My son had found a hidden door and crawled up the stairs leading to the balcony where the sound and lighting systems were housed. The reception dances screeched to a halt as a woman started yelling that there was a baby about to fall through the bars of the balcony. A whole story above us, my son was teetering between bars wider than his chubby little body, laughing. It took several moments for us to find the door to even get to him to rescue him. Another time, when he was all of four, he got lost in Tokyo and walked over a mile to find us on the other side of a very large park. I’m thankful that he seems to have an innate compass, and that while he wanders away, lost in thought, he at least can find his way home… although we did have a pretty close call with him when he disappeared and ran off to see where the train tracks went. His guardian angels certainly have to work for their paychecks!
But, he also has a very tender heart… if you can get to it. When he finally humbles himself and fesses up, he becomes a big puddle of tears and blames himself harshly.
Today I had to explain to him that he has a pattern of doing things without thinking them through. The answer cannot simply be, “I don’t know why I did that!” In the case of the candle fire, and in breaking into our house, and a few other named problems he’d caused (for instance, a hole in the plaster wall hours before our house was to be shown by a Realtor) that these things warrant being confronted. I’m not trying to personally attack him — it would be wrong for me to turn a blind eye to them. It’s for his own growth that I must talk to him about these things!
In response to his sobbing and his saying things like, “You think I’m stupid! You don’t love me! You hate everything that I do!”, I told him that I appreciated his mind, and that I am proud of him for wanting to understanding how things work. His skills are such a help to me for mechanically related projects — like taking apart our vacuum to thoroughly clean it out. I pointed out that, out of all of my children, he is the one for whom I have bought nice tools (not just plastic hammers, but the real thing — and nails to go with it!) and building toys designed for children way older than his age group. My goal is to encourage him in his endeavors… but with some boundaries.
I told him, “It’s not enough to simply ask, “I wonder what would happen if….?” He must also stop and ask these two things:
1. Could my actions endanger myself or someone else? (Yes = Need to ask permission!)
2. Do I have permission from the owner to tinker with this object? (No = Need to ask permission!)
And… if he is not sure of those two answers to please ask his parents.
For those who are tinkerers or have children who are — any advice or encouragement for me? :D