pick up your britches

“The reason you’re here is because my son is going through a phase where he doesn’t know how to express his anger…well, he DOES know how to express his anger, he’s just ruining the house doing it.”

She gave me a guided walking tour of all the holes in the walls and what caused them. “He was asked to brush his teeth.” “We bought him shoes with velcro straps.” “His knees were dry.”

After the hole tour we reviewed her existing window treatments. Any blind within arm’s reach had been destroyed.

“I think he likes the way they sound or feel. I don’t thing it’s an anger thing with the blinds, actually; he just can’t keep his hands off of them and he gets aggressive when he plays with the slats. I’ve purposely been putting up dirt cheap replacements every time he destroys one knowing that he’s going to do it again. I finally tried a roller shade. He stopped touching it. He doesn’t like it, so now that I know it’s safe I’m ready for a better looking one.”

What she had up looked like a vinyl bed sheet — a common aesthetic for “dirt cheap.”

As I did my work, he ran around upstairs, slamming doors and making a lot of noise in general. Nothing more than what I would hear in a typical family household, except it was one young boy creating the noise level of three.

Eventually he felt safe enough to come downstairs, communicate with me, and run by me with the speed of a 100-meter dash champion. I was surprised I stayed standing. And I was surprised I took his running past me as him “feeling safe.”

He had an older brother and they looked a lot alike.

“Are they twins?” “Practically. One year apart.”

My younger sisters are nine months apart.

Things became quiet. Mom went somewhere, older brother was watching television, and the 100-meter dash champion had found solace sitting on the floor in the dark hallway next to me. He was holding a pillow over his head and another one on his groin.

Mom appeared. “BOY! Pick up your britches! We have a guest! You know you can’t do that in front of guests. Go to your room.”

He didn’t listen.

“He’s going through puberty right now. You know boys and how they are. He’s usually good about it. Maybe he’s trying to impress you.”

“Even when puberty passes, those pastimes don’t change much for the average guy. He’s fine. I’m staying distracted figuring out your pricing.”

I noticed and appreciated how she didn’t apologize. Not once did she apologize for his behavior. There was no need. There was only explanation.

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