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Devlyn Brooks, Published February 02 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Bang, bang! Children, the parents’ alarm clock

“BANG, BANG, BANG!” the house shook on a recent Saturday morning.

Deep in sleep, snug in my bed, the noise and reverberations reached my subconscious.

“BANG, BANG, BANG … CRACK,” the unwanted intrusion continued, jarring me awake just a little more.

“BANG, BANG … BOOM!” came the persistent concussions, and finally I cracked open the one eye not still buried in my pillow.

7:56 a.m. blinked the red, LED alarm clock. … 7:56 a.m. on a Saturday.

“BANG, BOOM … SNAP!” it came again. This time followed by my mother’s voice: “Carter … you’re going to wake your father.”

Ahhh … I should have known, I thought, as I contemplated whether to investigate the mischief the Bug was into.

“BANG, BANG, CRASH, BOOM!”

Yep, time for dad to get up.

I sleepily wandered into the living room, and there was the Bug, seated on the floor, hammer in hand and the carnage of a dozen toy cars spread around him.

There was a set of stray wheels; here a windshield; a chassis over there; and what looked like the remnants of a trunk hood in front of my left big toe.

“Morning, Bug,” I said, still rubbing the remaining sleep haze from my eyes. “Whatcha doing?”

“I’m fixing my cars,” he said matter-of-factly.

“I can see that,” I said. “Must be a lot of them that needed fixing.”

“Yep, I’m running a mechanic shop,” he said, flashing me one of his million-dollar, toothless 7-year-old grins. “I started in the kitchen, but Grandma said I couldn’t do it on the table anymore. So I came in here.”

“Well, no, I don’t suspect that the kitchen is the most appropriate spot in the house for a mechanic shop,” I said.

“That’s all right, I have more room in here,” he said cheerily.

“Yes, and luckily it’s even closer to Dad’s bedroom,” I said as he eagerly got back to work.

“Huh, Dad?” he said over the top of a couple good, swift whacks to a jet fighter plane’s underbelly. “I didn’t hear you.”

“Nothing, bud, nothing,” I said, sidestepping broken pieces of Matchbox cars and making my way to the kitchen where Grandma was busy with something.

“Well, I told him he was going to wake you up,” she said.

“Oh, it’s OK,” I said. “I mean, it was 8 a.m. after all.”

And then curiously I heard behind me the patter of little feet … and more curiously no more banging.

“Where are you going now?” I asked the Bug, who cut around me and then his grandmother, headed to the basement.

“I’m going down to play PlayStation,” he said with a look that said, “Duh, Dad.”

“What happened to the mechanic shop that was going on in my living room … four feet from my bedroom … on a Saturday morning?” I reminded him.

“I’m done,” he said.

“Really?” I asked. “By the looks of it you were really going to town. Sure you don’t have anymore to fix?”

“Nope,” he said, “all done.”

“Huh,” I said, “you have to respect a shop that finishes all of its work prior to 8 a.m. on a Saturday.”

“D-a-a-a-d-d,” he said, stringing it out to emphasize how dumb parents can be: “I don’t have a real mechanic shop. I can work on them whenever I want.”


Devlyn Brooks is an editor at The Forum. He lives with his two sons and mother in Moorhead.