We live with one of the roughest, toughest five-year-old guys you could ever hope to meet. Since the day he could walk, he’s been tearing apart everything he comes in contact with. It isn’t uncommon for him to enter a room and 3.2 minutes later leave that same room with nothing but a light fixture barely hanging on by its electrical wires and a trail of devastation looming behind. He’s one Tough Guy.
This kid is built like a Mack truck and charged with enough energy to light up half the houses on the Eastern seaboard. We frequently yell his middle name in conjunction with his first name, and I’m not sure that’s ever a good sign. Tough Guy makes us all laugh. Hysterically. Usually right as punishment needs to be doled out.
“Look at me,” I say, in a stern voice. And he looks. Then opens his eyes as wide as they can go before bugging-out and popping out of his face. We have a stare down. I see his fuzzy brown head and his dark chocolate eyes jump out of their sockets while the rest of his face remains perfectly still. I force myself to keep a straight face. I speak slowly.
“Listen to me, you canno-
“Whooooooooooooooooooooooooo!,” he tips his head back and howls loudly at the ceiling. I bite my lips to keep from smiling.
His head lowers back down into the stare-down.
“I’m…a…train,” he enunciates in a soft, low, serious voice. He stares back again with a poker face. He sees me breaking. He knows I’m going to lose it, and he wields his power over me. It comes down to a battle of wills. I’m the loser.
In case you are the one person on this planet who has never held a conversation with a five year old boy, let me tell you something: five-year-old boys have no concept of reality, which is why they are so amusing. They also seem to lack any concept of time, which is why they have zero inhibitions about parading into your bedroom at the crack of 0:dark-30 to announce that someone has unjustly mistreated them in some various way. Tough Guy recently entered our room before dawn and woke us from a deep, glorious sleep to offer such information.
“Mom” he whined loudly from the foot of my bed, “[Humdinger] punched me in the faaaaaaace. Can I have cereal?”
Tough Guy never fails to catch us off guard. The other day he came downstairs after bedtime and said from the stairway, “My lamp broke.”
“Oh?” I asked. “You mean the light bulb?”
“Glass can break.” He said with a defensive, informative tone, as if I had never heard such a thing. I walked upstairs and found the broken bulb and all it’s pieces piled neatly right outside my bedroom door.
Now, pause here and insert into your memory the scene from “Home Alone” where the burglar walks barefooted across broken glass bulbs. That was nearly me- howling, hopping and holding back a string of expletives as foam spewed forth from my mouth. There’s a pretty picture.
Mr. Diaz and I have these moments; moments when we are blissfully unaware of the catastrophe that Tough Guy is involved in just several yards away. Moments where we are sitting happily on the sofa in a cocoon of lovely ignorance, knocking back dark chocolate and peanut butter and pretending, that for a moment, the kids are accounted for and nobody is sneaking outside to burn a petrified raccoon carcass in the backyard.
We had one of those moments not long ago.
There we were, watching television after a long hard day. We were tired. We were happy. We were oblivious.
Tough Guy casually strolled into the living room without a single stitch of clothing, looked straight at us, and announced sincerely “I’d rather use a clean bathroom.” He padded off up the stairs. A second later we heard toilet water rushing down the hallway at light speed right toward us. Tough Guy had stuffed an entire roll of toilet paper down the pot, flushed multiple times, then tried to clean up on his own by throwing all the clean laundry he could find onto the rushing river of pee water. He even took off his own clothes and body surfed.
I’ve lamented to my friends over these short years about Tough Guy’s brilliance, his antics and his ability to escape from any locked area. “How will I survive?” I’ve cried, “I can’t keep him anywhere! He always escapes!”
“Don’t worry,” my friends have comforted, “God can use his abilities one day for something positive…like escaping from an overseas prison.” Fabulous. Good to know the lock-picking and computer hacking may pay off for all of us one day.
I sure don’t love the wreckage Tough Guy makes. I don’t love doing CPR on a squirrel after he’s pelted it with a football. I don’t love finding my favorite book floating like a raft in the bathroom sink. I don’t love learning that there’s a ham sandwich and yesterday’s underpants shoved down the air-vent hole.
But I really do love my very Tough Guy. He’s my favorite.
Tough Guy provides this household with bountiful amounts of comedic relief, which almost makes up for the catastrophes he unwittingly creates. Plus, he’s simply off the charts on the adorable-o-meter.
And that is why he’s still allowed to live here.