It got quiet.
I should have known there was an issue when it got quiet.
Quiet + kids=disaster.
Quiet + kids=mayhem
Quiet + kids=there goes your nice China/purse/television/couch/autographed Jonathan Brandis picture
It didn’t start off quiet. I told the kids I’d be cleaning the bathrooms and that they could play nicely—I stressed the word nicely—while I did so. Or, I suggested, they could help me scrub the toilets. Naturally, no one volunteered. So I went upstairs armed with Clorox and Windex and other products filled with chemicals because that Earth chemical-free stuff barely cleans a thing.
As I sprayed down the sink I could hear Tommy saying, “Natalie, I don’t want to play restaurant anymore. I want to draw.”
Natalie didn’t get the hint and tried to get Tommy to take her plate of plastic fruits again.
“Nat-a-lie,” Tommy groaned. “I said no. I have Autism and I understand when people don’t want to play. Why can’t you?”
I snickered at that one.
(But seriously, Natalie doesn’t comprehend that not everyone wants to play her games. She was downright insulted when I turned down her request to play Candy Land one day. It’s just, playing Candy Land with Natalie is frustrating. She forgets the rules within five minutes and starts throwing the cards in the air, moving her game piece all over the board while I’m sitting there wanting to say, “That’s not fair. You’re cheating!”)
It was when I finished the bathrooms when I realized it was silent.
“Guys?” I called out nervously.
What if they took off down the street? Natalie did that once and said she wanted to “explore.” She blamed it on Diego. “Diego told me to explore. So I did.”
“Guys?” I tried again.
What if Natalie had an accident and was smearing feces all over body?
I sniffed the air. Phew. No feces.
Still. What was going on?
I came down into the living room. Natalie was on the couch with Tommy at her feet.
“Are you playing Queen?” I asked. Natalie likes to pretend she’s on the throne and she has Tommy kiss her feet. And be her horse. And…well, be her servant. Not surprisingly, this is not Tommy’s favorite game.
Tommy jumped up as though he touched fire. “I didn’t do it!” he yelled. He brushed past me and thundered up the stairs.
Uh oh. That wasn’t a good sign.
“Natalie?” I said, setting down my cleaning supplies. “What—”
And that’s when I saw it.
Around her leg.
“I can’t get these things off,” Natalie sniffled. She tugged on them. “It’s stuck. And it’s hurting me.”
They were Tom’s old handcuffs. Not a sexual toy, I want to stress. (No, really, ours are fuzzy.) (Kidding.) (Or AM I?)
“It’s okay,” I said even though I wanted to scream, “HELP! HELP!” followed by a string of swear words.
“It’s okay,” I repeated, my voice shaky. I sat down on the couch and pulled Natalie’s cuffed leg on my lap. I peered closer at the handcuffs. Surely there had to be a secret latch on them. There’s always a latch in the movies.
I poked various items in the keyhole to no avail.
I contemplated sawing off the handcuffs but worried I’d also saw off my daughter’s leg.
Plus, we don’t even have a saw.
I texted Tom, who, as my Twitter followers know, is back from Korea. His Mom took care of his truck while he was gone so he was collecting that in Ohio before he came home.
I asked Tom where the secret latch was.
“There is no latch. Those are real handcuffs.”
“I know they’re handcuffs, smart ass,” I replied.
No, I didn’t. I wanted to. But that would have been mean. He was in Korea for a year for God’s sake. I’ll be nice for a month. Two, if he puts the toilet seat down.
ME (via text): So there is no way I can open the handcuffs?
TOM: You need a key.
ME: Where is that?
TOM: In my stuff.
ME: Where is that?
TOM: Coming in a box from Korea.
ME: HOW IS THAT GOING TO HELP ME NOW?
TOM: Don’t know what to tell you.
I mean, he didn’t even seem concerned that his baby girl was TRAPPED in handcuffs. He was just like, “I’m going to enjoy my last few days of kid-free time. Lalala.”
He did suggest asking for help. Or going through his military gear that he kept in the garage just in case a key turned up there.
I decided to do that. I really didn’t want to ask for help because, well, what if when Tom started work people are like, “Oh, you’re the Dad of the kid who was stuck in handcuffs. Har, har, har,” and then Tom would forever be known as Handcuff Dad.
I went to the garage to search through Tom’s gear and the second I unzipped the bag, I was hit by the scent of sweat and boy. Gross. Tom really needs to clean his stuff. Or spray the hell out of it with Febreeze. I dug through everything to no avail.
I had to ask for help.
“Natalie, can you be a team player and leave the handcuffs on until Daddy gets home?”
Natalie scowled at me. “No!” She walked around and the handcuffs made clanking noises against the floor. (I sort of wanted to yell “Dead Man Walking!” but that would have been inappropriate.)
She was right though. She couldn’t keep them on. Plus, I had to go to Wal-Mart the next day. Granted, I imagine kids have shown up in handcuffs there before. I mean, it’s Wal-Mart.
But then I had to go to Tommy’s Meet and Greet at his school where he’d meet his new teacher. What sort of impression would I make if I brought my daughter who had a handcuff stuck around her leg?
I knew of a guy who was a cop who lived right across the way. So I scooped Natalie up and walked over. I knocked on the door and when the guy answered, I lifted up Natalie.
“We have a problem. I tried to find the secret latch, hahaha…”
He blinked at me as I dangled my kid in front of him.
“The handcuffs are the real thing. There is no latch,” he slowly said as if addressing Gary Busey.
Luckily, he had a key and three seconds later Natalie was free.
“I can breathe again!” Natalie marveled which confirmed my belief that she needs to get back to school. Stat.
Doesn’t Natalie look thrilled to be free?
Well, maybe not.
She was miffed that I made her put a dress on when we walked over to the guy’s house. She would have preferred to go in her Curious George underwear.
All I have to say is, that better be the last pair of handcuffs she’s ever in.