My mother used to say, “I can’t have anything nice with kids in the house!”
She didn’t so much say it as she did wail it. We were the kids who came swinging in through the kitchen window feet first from the eaves of the roof, or accidentally lit the garage on fire. The security system in the house was basically just a trigger mechanism for the neighbor’s rage. His first thought, I’m guessing, wasn’t ever that we were being burglarized, but that one of us had forgotten our keys again.
I didn’t understand it at the time, when mom broke out the wood glue and the paint to touch up the things my siblings and I had chipped and broken. I did not get it until I caught myself saying the same thing a few years ago when kids and years had begun to add up and the effect of little people in little places took its toll on everything I owned.
Our guest bed collapsed last week. Like, pieces-on-the-floor collapsed. It’s closest to the downstairs TV where the boys watch “Wrestlemania.” Who wants to be thrown on the floor when there’s a perfectly good mattress nearby?
In fighting, one brother threw another on the coffee table, and cracked the top square in half.
Jesse has chewed the covers off all the TV remotes.
Noah has torn the covers off all the cushions.
My couches are stained, my car is filthy. There are pen marks on my walls, and water rings on my tables. The duvet cover on my bed looks like it’s been used in a monkey habitat. The stains are even the right color.
The boys ensure the worst of it. They are basically battering rams with eyes.
They shiver with excitement when something crashes. I know their Aspie brains love the sound of destruction. The banging or hitting of things, the shattering of things. Imagine all the hormones of a pre-teen body in a brain that gets juiced when things are loud. Mine are not the type of autistic kids that like things quiet and orderly. Mine like the feeling of a grenade that’s just gone off and sent everything flying in multiple directions.
Like right now. I am writing while my boys play football right outside my office. In the house. With every pass, Noah growls at the dog as he runs by, and sets her to barking hysterically. Which in turn, sets him to screaming with glee. And the rugs are sliding on the hardwood floor, and someone’s just been slapped, and something else will be broken in the next five minutes, I’m pretty sure.
Noah doesn’t always have control over the things he breaks.
Sometimes, Noah wrecks things because he cannot control what goes on inside of him, so the outside of him likewise spirals.
School’s fast approach is sending his anxiety through the roof. So when Matt made an innocuous comment to Noah the other night, by the time I’d entered the room, Noah was bouncing from wall to wall, knocking pictures down, banging his head on the door, and flipping the rug. Nearly every hung thing was falling.
Even when Noah wrecks things, he is lovely. Sometimes, strangely, more so. He is my glass boy. A wrong impact shatters him, and he likewise shatters things. My house, and my life bear the signs of it. I am, though, even in the midst of his rages, “protected from the lash of the tongue, and [do] not fear when destruction comes. [I] laugh at destruction…” (Job 5:21-22)(NIV). I am a little more casual when things come undone now, because I realize they are just things. I teach my children that actions have consequences. But the actions – the glib destructions – aren’t as damning to my psyche as they once were. If my children are reading this, though, they’re definitely still damning, so don’t get any ideas.
All the busted-up stuff I own, the belongings that go from new to broken in the time it takes me to pour my coffee means that I have three children who are tearing things apart. Three children I prayed for. Three children some women long for, but can never know. Three children who will not be little for long.
I have three lovely wreckers who share this space with me.
Their evidence is everywhere.
Though you know, I wouldn’t mind if it was harder to find.