I believe that at some point in my family's lineage, an unsuspecting and dimwitted gal with a penchant for very hairy men accidentally mated with a rather handsome baboon. The resulting genes lay dormant for generations, finally manifesting themselves in my offspring.
This seems to be the only logical cause for my children's animal-like behavior. What else could explain their tendencies to bang their large craniums against walls for fun and take howling leaps from sofas and easy chairs—occasionally swinging from unfortunately placed window treatments?
At any rate, it became apparent early in their lives that they needed outlets where they could express their, uh, urges. Someone suggested enrolling them in swim class, and while the idea of squeezing my embarrassingly jiggly post-preggo body into a bathing suit went against all of my personal primal instincts, I thought it might actually be beneficial for the kids.
So now, every week I schlep the little monkeys down to the local swim center, where I spend fifteen minutes before class trying to wrangle them—and myself—into swimsuits, and at least another half an hour after class trying to wrestle everybody back out of them. And undoubtedly, while am I frantically peeling the swimsuit off of one little monster, the other is shutting himself in a swim locker, wriggling under the bathroom door to peek at some poor mom in a stall, or twisting himself up in a shower curtain to see how tight he can wind it before the whole assembly comes crashing down.
This past week was no different.
I had just finished dressing my daughter and was trying as quickly as possible to gather my own clothes so I could be dressed in case I needed to chase my naked son down the hallway. I plopped my son's clothes on a bench, told him to keep an eye on his sister (he's actually pretty good at this, as he relishes any opportunity to tattle on her and get her in trouble), and shut myself in a bathroom stall to dress.
As I began to strip off my suit, I heard the telltale giggles and shrieks that meant my son was up to no good. I peeked out of the stall and saw him streaking back and forth in the locker room, completely naked. My daughter was running after him, laughing and squealing. The other moms were carefully trying to stay out of the way as they hurriedly dressed their own calm and compliant children, packed their bags and made their escape.
I ducked back into the stall and frantically threw my shirt on. I was pulling on my pants when my patience abruptly ran out. I was tired of being laughed at...tired of being on the receiving end of pitying looks, and sick of feeling like I might just be a good candidate for the Super Nanny.
I steeled my resolve, and in my most intimidating voice hollered "Evan, if you aren't getting dressed when I come out of this bathroom you are in big trouble! I mean it! Get dressed—NOW!"
The giggles abruptly stopped. There was a pause, and after a moment of silence, Evan said, "Mommy, where are my clothes?"
Gathering up my swimsuit and towel, I called back out to him, "They're on the bench!"
"Um, no they're not."
I sighed in frustration.
When I emerged from the stall, I found my daughter three feet off the ground, giggling and jumping up and down on top of the row of sinks. My son—still naked—was looking around for his clothing. I was about to yell at him for letting his sister climb up onto the sinks when I saw that he was visibly upset.
"Mommy—my clothes are gone!" Evan wailed. He was getting red in the face and beginning to cry. I told him to calm down and assured him that his clothing had probably just gotten moved around in the shuffle. We looked under the benches and asked the only mom still remaining if she might have accidentally scooped up my son's clothes. She searched her bag, but came up empty.
We took everything out of our swim bag and shook out the towels. We looked in the lockers and the showers. We searched the bathroom stalls. Evan's clothes were gone. My mind flashed back to the image of the ladies frantically gathering their things to avoid getting run over by one of my insane children. One of the moms must have accidentally scooped up my son's clothing!
I started to panic. What was Evan going to wear? It was cold and raining outside and I didn't have an extra change of clothes for him. Fortunately whoever wandered off with his clothing had left Evan's socks and shoes—so Evan could walk to the car at least—but I was stumped as to what I was going to do about the rest of him.
The solution hit me like a lightning bolt, and for the first time ever I was actually grateful that I had gone out in public in my frumpy stay-at-home mom attire. I had thrown an over-sized, dumpy sweatshirt on top of my tee shirt because it was so damp that day, and I immediately knew this was my solution.
I stripped off the sweatshirt and told Evan he could wear it; I would be fine in my tee shirt. Evan screwed up his face—he gave me the same look of distaste that my husband sports when I suggest he wear a plaid shirt embroidered with smiling pineapples on vacation. "I don't want to wear that!" Evan wailed.
"But honey, you don't have anything else to wear," I said, trying desperately to remain calm for my son's sake. "Just pretend it's a big fuzzy blanket." Evan burst into tears—he sobbed and begged me to find his clothes. I said that the best I could do was to leave my name and number at the front desk and hope that the unwitting thief would call as soon as she realized she had our clothing. He wasn't happy with this answer, but he resigned himself to doing what was necessary.
I stuffed the sweatshirt over his head and tugged it down as far as it would go. Evan sniffled, looked down at his naked legs, and wailed "I want my pants! Who stole may paaaants!!?" Then he dissolved into tears again.
Given my son's fondness for public nudity, I was rather surprised to find him so visibly shaken by the turn of events. I briefly thought of using the opportunity as a teachable moment and doing the whole, "This is why we don't run around like crazy people in the locker room" speech, but I just didn't have the heart. He felt terrible enough already.
We hurried out to the car after leaving our information with the receptionist, and somehow I managed to buckle him into his car seat without pinching his delicate, exposed boy parts in the harness clip. I put a video on in the van in hopes of distracting my son from the current situation, but when my cellphone rang, Evan sat up straight and snapped to attention. "I think that's the person who stole my pants!" he shouted. "Let's go get 'em!"
As you've probably already guessed, it was not the pants burglar calling.
My son returned home with his proverbial tail between his legs.
He was clearly hoping for some sympathy from his Daddy, so when my husband laughed about it and tried to convince Evan of how darn funny the whole thing was, my son just sulked and stomped off. Fortunately Evan hasn't mentioned the incident since that night, and I'm glad for that—hopefully this won't traumatize the poor kid for life.
But as I examine this photo of him in my gigantic sweatshirt, I think I might see a bright side: if Evan ever needed to be in drag, he could probably rock a dress pretty convincingly.
He's got the legs for it, I think!