Y’know what? It’s been a while since we’ve had a cute kid story on the blog here. I think we’re overdue.
So a while back we were having a little party at our house. And my oldest boy Oot….
You guys do know Oot, right? It’s been a while since I talked about him here. He’s the older of my two little boys.
(Here he is winning a game of Tak.)
Oot is 7 years old now, if you can believe it. He is my heart’s delight. And despite my failings, he has grown up sweet and kind and loving and full of empathy.
So. A couple months ago, we were having a little shindig at our house. Except this wasn’t an event of the sort that I would organize, not a couple people coming over for games. Sarah’s family is huge, and there are roughly eleven billionty children in it. So this isn’t a cozy little gathering. It’s going to be an event. It’s going to be a happening.
The complication? We have a relatively small house. Only about 1400 square feet, and one of the two bathrooms is only accessible through a bedroom.
And here’s the thing. It’s *my* bedroom. Which means it a fucking mess. I’ve got piles of books and detritus everywhere. You can’t hardly see the floor. Plus I have a lot of stuff on my shelves is dangerous at best, and at worst just straight-up deadly. Picture it as a more cramped version of a wizard’s lab, except instead of having a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling, there’s a mattress on the floor.
Simply said: I do not want people wandering through my bedroom. For real. I’ve mentioned this many, many times to Sarah when she has family over.
So. Anyway. We’re getting ready for the party, and I come back from an errand to discover Oot has written up some helpful signs and stuck them to my door.
(Click to Embiggen. Seriselee.)
Please, *please* click the above image and try to puzzle out what it says on your own. Oot has my genes both for penmanship and spelling, but if you click on it, you should be able to make it out with a little work. And it’s *so* much better if you read it in the original.
For those of you who can’t quite make it out, the signs say:
“Do. not. Entre.”
“i. Will. Kil. You. if. You. Trn.”
“This. Nob. (Arrow pointing to doorknob.)”
“Seriselee. Stae. The. Fukc. Out.”
Now when I see this, I am absolutely fucking delighted. I am over the moon. I could not possibly enjoy it more.
First and foremost, this is a very thoughtful thing he’s done. I ask Sarah if she put him up to it, and she said she hasn’t. All on his own, my little boy has decided to help me keep my room private because he knows it bothers me when guests wander in there. He’s heard me talk about it, and he’s trying to help.
As for the rest…. well… I’m probably reading it a little differently than you, because I know more of the backstory. (It might surprise none of you to know that I consider backstory to be pretty important.)
You see, years ago, when I discovered that here in small town Wisconsin, a mortgage is actually cheaper than renting an office. So I bought a grotty old student rental house to use as a disturbance-free writing space.
In that house, I have a writing room which nobody is allowed to enter. Because it’s my fucking writing room.
But I also use the house as a guest house where friends can stay when they’re in town. And my friends are curious people. So years and years ago I put up some signs on the door:
Oot comes to visit me at the Workhouse sometimes. And I put these signs up *years* ago. Long before he could read.
But the world keeps spinning. And things change. And our children absorb so much more than we are ever ready for. And no matter how careful we are, we are never careful enough….
So I come home from my errand to see my sweet child has carefully labeled my door. I read these signs and I laugh. And I thank Oot for being so helpful and considerate. And I tell him that I am really impressed that he has done such a good job of writing everything out. And it’s true. I am impressed.
“But I’m wondering,” I say. “We’re inviting these people over to our house for a party. Do you think it might be a little rude to threaten to kill them?” (I’m going to leave the discussion of the word ‘fuck’ for another day.)
Oot looks thoughtful, he narrows his eyes a little and nods. “You’re right,” he says, as if he’s really kind of impressed that I’d figured that out. “I’ll make a new sign.”
So I wander away, happy that I’ve so deftly fixed the problem.
Ten minutes later, I come back to see this:
I would like to point out that I’ve never heard Oot say, “Fuck.” But obviously the sign at the workhouse has made a deep and lasting impression. It occurs to me that in his mind, this might actually just be the natural way you ask people to stay out of a room. This is just a regular warning sign: “Wet Paint.” “Do not park.” “Stay the fuck out.”
So we talk again. And I tell him that he’s done a good job by getting rid of threatening to kill people… “But it’s still not really *polite* yet, is it?”
And these notes are still on my door to this day. I cannot think of a reason I would ever want to take them down….
I hope y’all are doing okay out there.
Take care of each other,