I entered through the sliding glass door to find him standing on the couch. His face was sheer elation. His broad grin exposed his tiny glistening teeth with two wads of chewing gum tucked into his cheeks. He heaved with laughter as he extended his hand to reveal a mostly empty pack of gum… the same gum I had taken from him and put away mere minutes beforehand. His eyes were still red, and his face still held the tracks from the tears he’d shed over the incident. All the stomping and hopping and the drooping of the shoulders and casting back of the head in protest had vanished from his mind. Only joy remained. He stood there victorious. He had his prize.
“Kendra!” I called out to the playroom. “Did you give him this?” I knew she was aware of the gum extraction I had pulled off earlier, and it was unlike her to give in to something if I had removed or restricted it. “Give him what?” Oh no…
The soundtrack kicked in… I could hear the ominous tones playing in my head as I looked over to him again. He was shaking with laughter; still wide mouthed and grinning…exposing the forbidden fruit in his teeth. I turned around slowly toward the kitchen as the tones darkened and increased in volume. There I saw it. The scene of the crime.
A chair had been pushed over from the dining table to the kitchen desk. On the desk lay a series of papers in disarray and the printer was set askew. Above, the cabinet doors stood flung open. Printer paper and school documents dangled from their upset positions. Various and sundry objects had fallen from their perches, having been displaced. In the midst of the rummage shelves, my eyes focused on a conspicuously empty space. A CD case had been shoved to the left, and the place that previously secured the pack of gum sat empty. A location three times taller than the child. Crescendo.
I whirled around to face him. “Ethan, did you climb up there and get the gum?” I demanded. “Yeah!” he shot back no sooner than the words had escaped my mouth. “Gum! Me!” He pointed to himself and jumped up and down with pride. Kendra came in and watched his celebration with me. We both did the “hands in front of the face-looking down or away-he can’t see us laughing, can he” move as we didn’t want to encourage him to do that again, but couldn’t avoid wanting to join his celebration. It was quite a demonstration of his observational and problem solving skills, and I had to admire his tenacity.
Ultimately, negotiations ensued and we were able to secure the package and remaining few pieces of gum without the shedding of tears or the stomping of feet. He trotted off to find his brothers. All was well once again. I reached into my pocket to retrieve the pack of gum and find a more secure location…“Ethan!!” Oh, wrong pocket. He’s not that good…yet.