If you’re going to surf in toilet water, make sure you’re naked.

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.

 

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Dear Santa, it’s too late to bring us trendy names, so please bring us some allergies.

Dear Santa,

My brother, Uncle Fun, got all the good stuff when we were growing up. He was the one that got the roller-blades, the bunk-bed,  and all the good allergies. Now, I’ll grant you this, food restrictions were simply not cool back in the 80’s, but they’re rip roaring trendy right now and I’m feeling a bit left out.

Not only do none of us have any riveting hipster names, like “Jansen” or “Ryker,” none of us here have any reason to read food labels. Having no food restrictions means we can’t claim, “I’m so sorry Aunt Myrtle, I can’t eat your Figgy Pudding because I’m allergic to figs,” at those horrific family get-togethers that require such atrocious pudding traditions.

You see, Santa, I believe some allergies could improve my friendships. Having severe allergies and near anaphylaxis has resulted in deeper relationships for Uncle Fun. Uncle Fun can tell who really cares about him based on how much epinephrine they store in their emergency kit at their homes, just in case he should happen to visit and accidentally pet a small Scandinavian pony standing in their dining room. By the time he was 25 years old, he had acquired a lineup 50 friends deep that claimed dibs on sticking him with an Epi-pen, should the need arise. Those are true friends right there, Santa, and those are the type of sacrificial relationships that I want too.

I’m only allergic to cats, which is rather boring and isn’t unfortunate enough to make me interesting. I’m just not trendy, and I feel a bit like an outcast. I feel entirely inadequate while meeting with other moms during play-dates or park rendezvous.

Discussing their childrens’ allergies, Amanda turns to Lauren and says “Stella is highly allergic to deep-sea-squid, shellfish, pine nuts, pine cones, pilot whales, airline pilots, bees wax, candle wax, ear wax, vanilla extract, felt, snowmen and anything the color of yellow.”

“I understand,”  Lauren replies “Atlas is allergic to anything containing the word “cheese,” any type of pickled radish, calcium citrate, all herbs, fresh fruit, spring water, toothpaste and anything pre-packaged in plastic.”

“I know what you mean,” Meghan responds, “Finley is solely a peskatarian now, and his father and I are gluten-free-Paleo-vegans.” 

The moms exchange looks of solidarity and I feel completely left out. Then I hand my kids CHEEZ-ITs and they quietly gasp, and exchange horrified glances they don’t think I can see.

My kids have been noticing the difference too. Just last week my seven year old came to me and explained the cake she wanted for her next birthday.

“I don’t want a plain old Betty Crocker cake this time,” she demanded. “I want what everyone else is getting. What I want is a gluten and dairy-free, vegan, non-soy gelatin,  formed into a cake-like shape with carob icing. I want faux gelatto made from organic, hypoallergenic Peruvian goat-milk, from goats raised free-range on a mountainside and fed exclusively with “fair-trade” acorn and hemp-flour pellets.” 

“Are you sure you want that?” I questioned her.

“Yes,” she whined, “I want it exactly like Crispin and Lavender had it, and don’t forget to decorate it with the dancing Narnian wood nymphs.”

So here we are. It appears I’m not the only one from my family trying to blend into mainstream society.

This year I’m asking for a bit of help, Santa. It may be too late to bring us vougish-mod names, but you could at least bring us some fashionable allergies and provide a reason for us to shop exclusively at Whole Foods. An extra Epi-pen or two would be nice for Uncle Fun if you happen to have some lying around somewhere.

Thanks Santa,

Sincerely, Mrs.Diaz and family

P.S. I’ll leave you some soy-free, vegan, hemp chips and a tall glass of coconut milk. I know you’re trying to blend too.