Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fully and Unmistakably Two

As we pulled into the garage one sunny and warm Fall evening, Luca asked for bubbles. We had been trapped inside for what felt like weeks due to cold, rainy weather, and soon the days would be shorter, leaving no post-work opportunities to play outside. I grabbed the bubbles, Paolo grabbed his new spring-action, light-up, humming genuine Anakin Skywalker light saber, and Luca grabbed an empty bleach bottle from the trash. He casually sauntered out of the garage with his mouth around the open top. I tried to scream, but the tongue I'd just swallowed blocked the sound. I checked his skin for burns and his breath for the smell of bleach, but fortunately, the bottle had been bone dry.

I stowed the bleach bottle in the rafters of the garage and walked back outside to see Luca with a terra cotta pot raised above his head, just before smashing it into another pot. I steered him away from that game, as well, and returned to blowing bubbles for Paolo. Luca then attempted to perforate himself with a steel tomato cage, concuss himself with a heavy shovel, before flipping open the outdoor electrical outlets. Please note that our garage is lined with toys: bikes, balls, buckets, tennis rackets, dump trucks, none of which are even remotely interesting to a two-year-old.

Finally, Luca climbed into my car and began twiddling knobs and flipping light switches. Now the car is generally off-limits, but damn it, he couldn't kill himself in there. So I left well enough alone, and he honked and flashed and steered merrily in what I had decided was the safe, nonthreatening cocoon of my car. Bubble-time ended (it's actually really hard to pop bubbles with a light saber), and Paolo and I headed back into the garage. Luca opened the car door when he saw his brother, and Paolo walked over to help him climb out. As I returned the bubbles to the shelf above the washer, I heard a slam followed by a scream.

I turned in horror to see Paolo's thumb stuck in the car door. By the grace of all that is good in the universe, only the tip of Paolo's thumb was smashed. No broken bones, no blood, just a whole lot of screaming and a black fingernail that is probably not long for this world. In case you're wondering what Luca was doing while I released Paolo's hand and ascertained whether we'd be headed for the ER, he was laughing and ejecting CDs from the car stereo.

That's what I'm dealing with these days. My dad thought I was joking on the phone the other night when I admonished Luca to get out of the microwave. Folks, I have a two-year-old. It's like being at war, with an enemy who doesn't speak your language or respect the rules of combat, who is so irrational, his next move cannot be anticipated but is certain to leave you slackjawed.

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