It started coming down in earnest about 7 pm on Friday night, and by then the Ice was over his misery at being forbidden to go to a skating party that was due to run until 11 pm in a town 30 miles away. The First, however, had already made good his escape and was blissfully seated next to his girlfriend at a play. He’d promised to be home by 9 pm, so I sat up worrying until 10:40 pm when I finally heard him crunch up to the front door.
“But we went really really slow on the road, Mom,” he said, as I ranted. Sometimes I despair of ever managing this parenting thing gracefully.
After sending him on to bed I sat up in the darkened kitchen, watching the snow hurtle past the streetlights, and by midnight the peace of the thing had worked its magic and I turned in. For a bit.
Because at 2 am I heard the thump-thump-thump of my nine-year-old thundering down the stairs, followed by a delighted gasp, some scrambling, and the open and slam of the front door. No, no, no, I groaned, and elbowed Lance awake. “He’s locked himself out,” I whispered, just as the knocking began.
Lance shuffled out to the front door, let the Maker in, and growled at him to go back to bed. Which he did. For three hours.
By 5 am the Maker and the Ice had turned on all the lights, gone in and out of the house a half dozen times, and engaged in several arguments before I dragged myself out of bed to insist that they go upstairs to read and allow me to sleep for at least another 2 hours. “But it’s five,” the Ice insisted. I squinted balefully at him.
“Two hours,” I intoned, pointing up the stairs like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come pointing into the grave. “Goooo.”
By the time I got up the boys had made a lavish breakfast of biscuits, sausage, eggs, and orange juice, which went a fair distance toward diverting my lecture, and besides, a five-inch snow in North Carolina is a rare and magic thing; it’s hard to sustain a really hefty grouchiness in the face of such beauty.
By noon our house was vibrating with the energy of six boys under the age of 12 playing Uno and Monopoly, four teens upstairs playing electric guitar, and the effort of our dryer to keep up with the constant load of cold, soggy gloves, hats, and jackets. The coat pile in our foyer was deep enough to lose a small animal in. Ooo. Sorry I even thought of that; no telling what may be loose in our house.
I felt domestic enough to make cookies, which inspired the hasty manufacture of a dozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (note to self: we’re now out of jelly), since lunch is a prerequisite for dessert. I watched the melee with a small measure of amazement and poured a finger of scotch into my coffee as the boys settled into a belching contest over PB & Js. I love having all boys, revolting though they may be.
I called my parents, who live on the same block. “How many boys do you have in your house?” I inquired over the din.
My father chuckled. “None,” he replied, “and all the doors are locked. But you know where the key is hidden.”
He leaves it to me to use my powers for good or for evil.