Destroy has always had a bit of an impulsive side to him.
From out of nowhere you’ll hear a primal yell. You’ll feel the walls shudder around you; what was once order will suddenly become a cacophony of chaos – disarray resulting from a category 5 hurricane muppet. Toys strewn in his wake surrender to the playroom battlefield as a 38-pound Godzilla conquers the northeast end of his home.
And that’s just after you’ve nicely asked him to join you at the dinner table.
So there are a lot of conversations requiring the phrase, “Listening ears, please!”
He’ll clap his hands over his ears as though he’s shutting you out like a sullen teenager. Luckily, we’ve still got close to a decade before that chapter of muppet mayhem. Today, such a gesture is simply a physical display that Destroy is acknowledging your existence and affixing his “listening ears.”
(Use your time wisely – there is approximately 14 seconds before such delicate aural receptors fall right back off.)
But still…sometimes they manage to surprise you.
This past weekend we partied hard at the party of a classmate. This particular classmate is rather chummy with Destroy and the two of them are known troublemakers. Add this to a confluence of cake, snow cones, sunshine and their girlfriend Minnie, and Destroy and I had a serious chat about listening and behaving when Mommy asks him to do something.
We arrived. Destroy looked at me, noticed not one but two of his teachers as well as the school principal were welcoming him, had a moment of slight confusion that teachers exist beyond school walls, and solemnly informed me he wanted to behave.
Then he found Minnie and the giant train bounce house with inflatable 15-foot slide. All bets were off.
I lost count of the number of 4-year-olds in the Thomas the Train bounce house with slide; it remains unknown if the plastic red walls were vibrating from the constant air flow pumped through its innards or as a result of the shrieks from an entire preschool class ricocheting off the polyurethane columns.
There was a silent agreement among the parents – if no one’s crying, there’s nothing to be concerned with. Generally you could expect a steady stream of kids flying off the slide, onto the crash mat and go gleefully giggling back through the curtain.
Occasionally, there would be little sign of one’s charge. This was (as it always is) a strong indicator that someone has initiated a behavior expressly forbidden on the misspelled warning map glued to Thomas’ rear end. This was my cue to check in, “Destroy?” I called. Immediately three young faces smooshed up against the periphery netting.
Chests heaving and out of breath, I could see the mischief glinting in their overheated eyes.
“You’re behaving, I hope,” I reminded. “It’s almost time to get out.”
“We have party hats!” squealed the three musketeers in response before scrambling back up the down and into the shadowed inflatable world no parent should ever dare enter.
It is the rare preschooler who willingly departs from an inflatable trampoline once they’ve decided they’re having fun. So our party hosts, exhausted by the same super-sugared treats driving our offspring off the wall, brought out the big guns.
“Who wants cake?”
Thomas immediately spat dozens of tiny people toward the porch. All out of breath. Destroy raced toward the porch swing, grabbed an open pouch of grape juice and took a giant swig.
“Destroy! That’s not yours,” I admonished.
Without missing a beat, Destroy spun around, bent at the waist, and opened his mouth to regurgitate the contraband liquid right back onto the floor before continuing his pilgrimage to the chocolate-iced confectionary.
His teacher eyed the purple puddle and then looked at me, “To be fair, he listened.”