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6:56 p.m. - 2012-03-22
One of Cashy's favorite activities is flooding the upstairs bathroom while taking a bath. One of the few times in his entire life that he is happy playing by himself is in the bath, so I let him stay in there as long as he wants, even though I know there's a risk that, once a week or so, he will try to flood the bathroom.

The way he does this is by very quietly and very patiently using a small container -- a toy boat will do -- to scoop up bathwater and pour it on the floor. We are both way beyond the early, innocent days of splashing or dumping -- he knows that if I actually hear water hitting the tile floor he'll be out of the bath butt naked before he can say "preschool delinquent" and doing time on his bed -- so these days he's in stealth mode.

He knows I'm listening, so he waits until I am distracted -- usually by marley. Then he uses whatever is at hand to very, very quietly pour water down the side of the tub onto the floor. Usually I can't hear this at all. Usually the first signs of trouble are a) he is suddenly very quiet, and b) water starts pouring out of the overhead light in my kitchen, which is directly under the bathroom, and flooding my kitchen floor.

I didn't hear the water today. I heard silence. I was drinking coffee in the kitchen, listening. I heard silence and choked on my coffee and glanced at the overhead light, which wasn't dripping -- yet.

Then I raced up the stairs, two at a time, screaming, CASHY, YOU ARE GOING TO BE A STATISTIC!!!

The bathroom floor was a lake. He had actually pushed aside the rug and a towel I had put down next to the tub, so they wouldn't soak up the water he was oh-so-silently pouring down the side of the bath with a tugboat.

He was still holding the tugboat when I opened the door -- caught red-handed -- but he looked at me with these wide, innocent brown eyes -- Who me flood the bathroom, silently and on purpose, when I know damn well I'm not supposed to? Me? I'm practically a baby, innocent and pure as the driven snow! Just look at these eyes!

Same look his daddy used to give me when he returned at 4 in the morning smelling like a woman other than me and claimed I was the crazy one -- I don't hold this against my son but he has his father's eyes and independently mobile eyebrows and I swear it is the same damned look.

Unlike his father, who could keep up this innocent and injured expression for weeks (or perhaps it was years) at a time Cashy can't hold it for more than 2 seconds. He stands up, cracks up, and very proud of himself and tickled at his cleverness, points at the manmade lake and crows, "Mesh, Mama! Big MESH!"

I haul him out of the bath, give him a swat on the butt, and start throwing towels at the "mesh."

"You flooded the bathroom!" I yelp. "AGAIN! Don't DO that!! BAD, Cashy. BAD! BAD! BAD!"

Then I race downstairs to see how the kitchen is doing. The overhead light isn't dripping. Then it starts ... not a drip, but a deluge.


I thought I had cleaned up the bathroom floor... where is this water coming from?

I race back upstairs and find my son ... back in the tub ... with a blue plastic bucket he got from who knows where, his bedroom probably, bailing bathwater OUT of the tub, onto the bathroom floor, as fast as he can.

He doesn't even stop when he sees me open the bathroom door. Oh no. He bails two more buckets-ful wildly, as though guageing how much time he has, and then when I reach for the bucket, he flings it at the opposite wall of the bathroom.

I haul him out of the bath by one arm -- not what the parenting books recommend -- and shriek, "YOU LITTLE TURD!!" -- which is not what the parenting books recommend either. Then I immediately feel like a bully, a brute, and a horrible mother scarring him for life. I dump more towels on the new Lake Cash and then I get down on my knees and look in his eyes and say, "Cash, you can't pour water on the floor. That is very, very bad. Look, I need to show you something."

Cash, I should add, doesn't seem the least bit scarred or scared. He's just watching me, and the flood, with the mild curiousity of an architect ... or a demi-god...

I bring him downstairs and show him (yet again) the water dripping out of the light and pooling on the kitchen floor, the water marks on the ceiling...

"Cashy, when you pour water on the bathroom floor, it makes a mess and it's bad for the light and it's bad for the ceiling. If you keep doing that the ceiling is going to break. If you keep doing that the ceiling will fall down, BOOM! And it will be broken, and you and Marley and I will get hurt."

"Ceiling fall down?"


For a second I think it's sinking in. He looks troubled.

Then he grins and makes a hand gesture like he's using a screwdriver. "Fix it!" he says. Problem solved.


"No, no," I say gravely. "Can't fix it."

"Can't fix it?"

"It's too high up," I say. I am TRYING, dammit, to speak 2-1/2-year-old, to impress upon him the gravity of the offense. Lost cause.

He looks concerned for a second, and then the light goes on again.

"Jump!" he says.

"Can't," I say sorrowfully. "Too high."

But it's a lost cause; I've lost him; he's jumping up and down butt naked on my sloppy-wet kitchen floor jabbing an imaginary screwdriver at the ceiling and screaming, "Jump! FIXIT!"

I have a feeling that I've only stoked his passion for flooding the bathroom...

Now I'll have to start yanking him out of the bath as soon as he's scrubbed, and that's an extra half-hour a day he'll be pulling his sister's hair, throwing her toys out the second-floor window, trying to run into the road or my neighbor's garden to behead her daffodils... he doesn't even take naps anymore. A day with him is as physically exausting as a soccer game with 80 quarters instead of four ... and I am on the field the whole time; my only bench time is when Matt takes them for an hour after dinner.

My brother Patrick was one of the few children in our school district's history to be suspended from kindergarten and I fear Cashy will carry on the tradition.

I did not take any drugs when I was pregnant with him, I swear to God. Or drink a drop of alcohol. But I did live for years within a couple of miles of a nuclear power plant....



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