I was the proud coach of not one, but two baseball teams last year. I coached The Oppressed and one of The Gaggle on one team, The Boy on the other. Both teams presented their own unique challenges. No matter what team had the practice or the game, I had more of The Gaggle sitting on the bench presenting an additional set of challenges to my parenting strategies and my overall sanity.
There was one particular afternoon where I had to remind myself I love my children and the work I was doing on the baseball field. It had been a challenging afternoon with the budding stars of the diamond that day. I had the usual two children telling my why one should be playing first base and not the other one. Another child was mesmerized by the blades of grass surrounding them, the occasional dandelion in the grass, and anything else not relating to baseball. I found that to be rather odd since baseball was the reason we were all gathered there on that particular day.
The game that particular afternoon mercifully came to an end. I carried the equipment back to the van hoping my last half-ounce of sanity would hold out for the ride home so I could hide somewhere and recharge until the next crisis presented itself. Unfortunately, the next crisis presented itself before the bag was dropped in the van.
I couldn’t help but notice the back of a seat had been touched up a bit by an artists touch. Now, the van at that point had been seven or eight years old but I didn’t recall artwork being included in the list of options when we bought it.
I took a deep breath and calmly called the children to the back of the van. They dutifully assembled and saw the work of art that wasn’t there that morning. I asked them if anyone wanted to take credit for the new work gracing the back of the seat. There were no takers. We get home. Everyone sits at the table. The first thing I do is demand that anyone with “Stupid Pills” hand them over to me that very instant. There is obviously some mental damage here and I need to curb it.
Next, I inform all of the Miracles of Christ that everyone will be punished until the Real Rembrandt steps up and lays claim to the work. They hear me. They understand but they all tell me, swear to me that no one sitting at the table did it.
We begin the days-long interrogation process. Extra chores. No screens. Early bedtimes. The Oppressed is mad at whoever the culprit is. She, as well as the rest of the innocent parties are missing out on screens: the vital staple of any child’s development and well-being. One of The Gaggle offers to take the heat for everyone for the sake of getting it all over and done with. The rest of the Miracles of Christ will owe them down the road.
My wife and I play a guessing game every night. Whodunnit? We have our guesses and theories supporting those guesses. All of the guesses are good and the theories are intriguing. We don’t act on any of these, of course. We still wait for the guilty party(ies) to take it upon themselves to tell us what they’ve done. We have ruled out one of the children because of a “Tell” they have when they do something wrong. The “Tell” is not there. We figure they’re not involved this time.
Wife and I continue to wait for a confession. The children are put to work in the backyard. All of them, including the one we think is clean. There’s a lot of land to be mowed and tended to. We also have trees with falling branches that make it difficult to cut the grass. The Miracles of Christ are charged with removing the sticks from the grass and moved to the patio. This was happening on one particular day when the social worker of The Gaggle came to visit. She saw the children at work and felt this was a little excessive, even if our vehicle was vandalized. I thank the nice lady for bringing her opinion to my attention.
Time passes and someone cracks. They cave. They did it. Was there anyone else. No. They acted alone. Wife and I have the confession we have been waiting for. The rest of the children are off the hook and we discuss the proper punishment for the individual. But wait… There’s more! The guilty party had an accomplice. Said accomplice was sitting back letting the other take the heat. Brilliant child. A budding mastermind. Somewhere on the other side, Al Capone probably did a facepalm.
Punishments are handed down. I assess the situation and determine the retribution to be exacted. Wife thought the punishments were excessive and feels we should tone them down. I agree under protest. We hand down the sentences and wait for the next crisis to befall us.