The boys have been driving me a little crazy of late with their spy antics and ninja terror attacks. They have special outfits that they wear while playing these games (inside-out black shirts so that the logo doesn't show; black long johns; black balaclavas; black socks) and they lurk around the corners of the house waiting to sneak up on their next unsuspecting victim (read: Lizzie or me).
Their latest has been to figure out how to open doors that lock...while they are locked in. They are convinced that they need to know how to escape from perilous situations and that proper spies and ninjas would know how to do this. There are only a few locking doors in the house, but the boys have managed to figure out how to open them with a variety of 'tools': the sharp end of nail clippers; pencils; even popsicle sticks. It's making me a little nuts because, of course, when they can't open a lock, they bang on the door and scream at the top of their lungs until I come running to rescue them.
Yesterday morning, we were on our way out of the house, headed towards the IMAX show on the human body. We needed to leave the house by shortly after ten and we were ready right on time. The kids were buckled into the van and I was climbing in...only to realize I'd forgotten something inside. I ran back to the door into the mudroom and, to my surprise because I never lock this door, the door was locked tight. I banged my nose on the door because I'd fully expected it to open for me and my body's momentum carried my nose right into the door frame. Ow.
I panicked. We hadn't put our emergency key back into place in its hiding spot outside and I didn't have a house key on my key chain because I don't usually have to use it for that door. And my emergency cell phone was inside charging up (guess what I was running back to the house for!?) so I couldn't call anyone. I had sudden visions that we were going to be locked out until Geoff got home for dinner. I couldn't figure out how the door got locked.
...I remembered what I'd been only half listening to earlier that morning, when I'd heard mumblings between Matthew and Seth about trying to figure out some new doors to unlock. I pivoted in my spot and glared at the van.
"Boys," I started, none too gently. "I am locked out of the house. Were you playing with this lock today?"
"I didn't do it," protested Seth immediately...too quickly, I thought.
"Well, I didn't do it either," said Matthew, looking a little too innocent.
"Let me rephrase," I continued, knowing deep in my gut that this was a little too coincidental given their break-in practice just a little while earlier. "Have either of you been playing with this door to see if you can unlock it?"
At the same time that Seth said "no!" Matthew said, "well, yeah, we did touch the door and try to lock it, but we couldn't figure out the lock so we just left it alone."
Sheesh. Well, the little #$%*!s had locked the door and then left it locked when they couldn't figure out how to open it.
I was spitting mad and started lecturing them on the importance of never touching the outside door locks even when they were in top ninja form. I asked where they thought they were going to go to the bathroom if we had to wait outside until Daddy came home (at which point Matthew and Seth excitedly pointed to the trees out front, making me somehow even madder). I didn't know where I was going with my rant, but I needed to have it. I was steaming. And my nose still hurt.
Matthew suddenly jumped out of the van.
"Matthew," I said, very firmly. "Get back into the van. We have to leave."
"Mom," he said, holding up his hand so that his palm was inches from my face. "Trust me, I've got this one. I'll get the door open."
"You are kidding me, Matthew," I stammered, getting more impatient by the second. "This is not the time for more ninja or spy games or whatever you're doing. The reason we're in this pickle is because you couldn't get it to work this morning. I need to figure this out and I can't think while I'm arguing with you or trying to get you back into the van."
"Mom, seriously, just hang on."
"Mom, one minute ok. Just one."
"OK. One." Grudgingly. I felt like stamping my foot but realized just in time that they didn't need to learn any more childish behaviours from me. Besides, I figured I'd use that minute to figure out what the heck to do.
"Seth, give me that popsicle craft you have," Matthew commanded, running to the door of the van and retrieving from Seth one of those extra-wide popsicle sticks you can buy at the dollar store. It was painted up with a marker and had a little smiley face on it.
I, however, wasn't smiling. I'm pretty sure my toe was tapping the pavement, waiting for the minute to be over.
"Seth, I need you," Matthew yelled from his position by the door, where he was trying to jam a too-wide popsicle stick into the non-existent space between door and frame. I rolled my eyes. Seriously? I thought.
Seth was there in an flash and Matthew pointed to the top edge of the popsicle stick and said "ok, push down right there with one finger."
"Like this?" Seth asked, doing something with his hands.
"Yup. Hang on Mom." Matthew was jimmying away at something. About thirty seconds passed.
I was just about to start my rampage again when Matthew laughed.
"See Mom," he said triumphantly, an ear-splitting grin covering his face. "I did it!!" He gestured widely with his arm towards the door and, what the heck, the door OPENED.
That little shit did it. Excuse the language, but that's what I thought. I didn't know how to be: still mad; or impressed. My pride not quite wanting to take a back seat, I managed to eek out a little of both.
"OK, then, thank you Matthew. And yes, you did a great job." I said this through gritted teeth. "But just so we're clear," I mumbled, not quite able to let it go, "you're not to touch outside door locks again. Agreed?"
"Agreed," he said readily, smiling the smile of the victor. He didn't have to say "I told you so;" it was written all over his face. He flexed his arms muscles while I raced inside to collect my cell phone. I tried to ignore his glory.
When we both climbed back into the van, he put further icing on the cake.
"That must have been a God thing, don't you think Mom?"
"How do you figure that?" I asked, anger quick to rise up again.
"Well, it was just this morning that Seth and I were working on this stuff and look how we needed me to be the expert."
I didn't point out to him that, were it not for their earlier efforts, I would never have encountered the locked door in the first place.
"Besides," he said. "God must have told Seth that he was going to need that popsicle stick in the car today."
Seth: "What? God told me that?!! Mommy, is that true?!?"
Sigh. I felt entirely incapable of answering. I told the kids that I didn't want to answer any more questions for a few minutes and I pulled out of the driveway.
A little bit later, after I'd regained my equilibrium, I had a little smile and a chuckle to myself. After all, who am I to say that it wasn't God? Surely He has a sense of humour, too!
But just to be on the safe side, the emergency key is going back into place today.