I have boundaries in blogging. I avoid certain topics and I dance around others, dipping my toe in but not jumping in full force. Sometimes I stay away because I don’t want the drama. Sometimes I avoid telling a story because I want to keep it as ours, a memory for just us.
Sometimes I don’t tell a story because I don’t want the masses to call Child Protective Services.
Months ago, I chose not to blog a really, really funny story. Well, it wasn’t funny while it was happening, but as soon as I realized there was no danger, the laughter began to tumble out. I still chose not to blog it. I briefly mentioned it in a post but then shied away. It felt safer as an Us Story, not an Everyone Story.
But apparently BigBrother didn’t share my feelings or my boundaries. He brought home his journal yesterday from the first nine weeks of school. This little gem was written on August 31, just over a week after school started.
Text Translation: My little brother got stuck in the tree with his Buzz Lightyear wings.
I laughed so hard I cried, tears running down my face, gasping for air. My husband looked at me from the couch, wondering what on Earth could possibly be so funny about our oldest son’s school journal. I finally got out of the chair and handed it to him. He laughed too.
I suppose now I have to tell the story in case BigBrother’s teacher has already reported us to CPS.
— __ — __ —
The boys immediately took to the tree in our front yard when we bought our new house. A decorative pear with perfect climbing branches — low and strong — it was their siren song. Not having a climb-worthy tree at our old house, they didn’t quite know what to do with it though.
“Mommy, can you teach me to climb the tree?” BigBrother looked at me with a furrowed brow.
“Well, buddy. That’s one of those things that you just have to learn for yourself.”
So, they did. Quickly. They also quickly learned that you can fall. A few weeks went by and we had to put the tree in time out. No climbing. Too many scrapes and, the real problem, too much arguing over who got to sit on which branch.
Time went by and one sunny, lovely spring day after I finished working, I lifted the tree ban. I sat on the porch, reading and answering a billion questions while they climbed and played with other things in the front yard, including costumes. My boys are costume fiends, always dressed in or as something. I eventually started working in my flower bed, making the most of the lovely weather and the time outside. The boys kept climbing. We were outside — together — for nearly an hour-and-a-half.
Eventually I looked at the time. As no incidents or arguments had popped up, I decided to go inside and start dinner, leaving the boys to play. The new house allows us this joy: letting the kids play outside without us hovering. We’re usually outside too, enjoying the space and
the quiet and the fresh air, but being able to say, “Go outside and play,” or, “See if your friends are outside,” or, “I can’t hear myself think so please take the noise outside,” is the greatest thing. Ever.
I explained to the boys that I was going inside, reminded them not to argue. We know how well that works, right?
So when I heard LittleBrother start to cry five minutes after I went inside, I figured that BigBrother had gotten bossy and, woe is him, LittleBrother was having a “moment.” I shrugged it off. Either boy cries at least four times a day about something. It’s hardly ever something serious. I went about making dinner.
Suddenly, BigBrother’s face appeared at the screen door in the garage. “Mommy! LittleBrother is stuck in the tree! You have to come! QUICK!”
That’s a sentence you don’t hear everyday. I followed closely behind, leaving whatever was cooking on the stove, and ran into the yard.
I paused, only slightly, when I saw my youngest son dangling by his Buzz Lightyear wings on the lowest branch. The wings, super awesome in the way that they go up and down with the touch of a button, had found a resting spot on one side of a branch while LittleBrother’s body and legs wiggled and kicked on the other side of the branch. By this point, he was frantic and his cries were no longer cries but screams.
I ran. Obviously.
You should know that my back was still out at this point. While the child still doesn’t weigh enough for a booster seat, 30-some odd pounds of kicking, screaming, frantic child weighs about the same as a truckload of angry pigs. I lifted and failed to clear the wings over the branch that first time. Super Mommy strength kicked in and I freed the child with the next lift. We both tumbled to the ground.
I sat up and unhooked his wings, making sure the stress of being stuck and all of the kicking hadn’t cut his skin anywhere. Not a red mark to be found. Not a nick. Not a scratch. He was fine.
At this point, he started to laugh.
And then BigBrother started to laugh.
And then I started to laugh through the tears that had welled up in my eyes. It had been scary, it really had. My first thought when I saw him was that he couldn’t breathe. (He could.) The relief I felt when he started to laugh made me cry and laugh and snort and hug all in the same breath.
And then I saw the neighbor lady across the street, eying the whole scenario rather suspiciously. I laughed harder. To this day, I can’t imagine what she thought about what she had witnessed.
I chose not to blog it after a few days. People get kind of uppity about unsupervised outdoor play, and I don’t really like to be arrested. I’ve worked hard over the past nearly seven years to stop hovering, to let my kids have space to play and be and live and breathe. I believe that climbing a tree is a right of passage for a child, not a crime worth calling the cops over — but obviously some people don’t agree.
Alas, the story is now out. I can’t imagine what our son’s teacher thought of that particular journal entry, but the fact that BigBrother thought to write about it — months after it happened — makes the story even funnier. According to my grandmother, who raised three boys, we will have many other stories like this to laugh about, to share, and to keep as our own over the years.
And yes, they lost tree climbing privileges after that incident. And got them back. And lost them again. And got them back. And one time I thought BigBrother ran away and/or was kidnapped, but he was hiding in the tree. He definitely lost privileges then.
And gained them back. Tree privileges aside, perhaps I need to have a discussion with the child about journaling boundaries; ah, the children of bloggers.