by Kelly Kon
enjoying a sunny day in late autumn to clean the
house without the interference of tiny people
underfoot. Three kids under five sounded more
daunting, but she swore three kids under eight
was worse. Three kids under five could stay happy
and occupied penned into the backyard fence.
Three kids under eight were more mobile -- and
lunch, breakfast, and dinner the night before
piled up in the sink. Patty unloaded the clean
dishes from the dishwasher and fitted the dirty
dishes in with the skill and precision of a code
breaker. She'd managed to fit the last plastic
cup --gotcha -- when she froze.
No sound of
panic, no stormy skies alerted her to danger, but
her senses tingled. Things out back were quiet --
too quiet. The usual shrieking and laughing and
bargaining were absent. And that meant just one
The kids were
doing something they wanted to hide from Mom.
cup, Patty raced to the window and peered out,
scanning the yard for the red, pink, and blue
windbreakers. She spotted them and gasped,
running for the back door, throwing it open,
clattering onto the porch, pressing her palms
against the air, a universal halt sign.
boomed into the yard. "Everyone --stop what
you are doing!"
Her voice and
manner brooked no argument. The three children
froze. Three wide pairs of calf-brown eyes looked
toward the porch. Three mouths fell open.
into the yard, barefoot, no coat, determined not
to scare anyone into flinching. She approached
the tree her three children had climbed, marched
up to her youngest, and unwrapped the bungee cord
from around his neck.
She held the
offending cord, her voice soft and trembling with
piped up, his eyes glittering with tears. "We
were just playing bungee jumping. It wasn't long
enough to fit around his waist, so..."
wrapped it around his neck." Patty pressed
her hand over her eyes, ignoring the impending
migraine. "And he was going to jump out of
The three kids
ever occur to any of you that you were about to
kill your brother?"
general denial from the children.
want to see you wrap anything around each other's
necks again. Clear?"
boa in the dress-up drawer got considerably less
use after that.