Monday, February 25, 2013

Hallie's New Roommate

I regularly hear two different screams coming from Hallie's mouth.

Scream #1, most often directed toward me and/or Will, pierces our eardrums whenever Hallie feels angry and frustrated. Scream #1 can be heard approximately 117 miles away, and generally lasts for what feels like - and is as painful as actually watching - a full episode of The Jersey Shore.

Scream #2, most often heard by Will (poor buddy - his ears have been through a lot), is premeditated and designed to coerce him into behaving as Hallie would like him to behave. Will gives in to these manipulative screams most of the time, presumably because doing so is considerably less time-consuming and results in fewer repercussions than negotiating and/or fighting with her.

Last week, as I was sitting down at my computer to pound out a blog post or two, a completely unfamiliar scream shattered the house-wide rest time silence. (For the record, "house-wide rest time silence" generally lasts for 11 minutes. I used to get between two and three solid hours of peace and quiet every afternoon, and now I consider myself lucky if I get 11 minutes.) This scream pulled me off the couch, because unlike screams #1 and #2, it was one of authentic terror.

Hallie and I nearly collided as I hurried toward and she burst out of her bedroom. Tears covered her cheeks and her breath caught in her throat as she pointed into her room and sputtered something that sounded like "wizard". We all know just how scary Harry Potter can be to an almost-four-year-old...

Have you figured out that this is yet another blog post about lizards?

I eventually coaxed the story out of Hallie. She went into her room, parked herself down on the floor in front of her dollhouse, and started arranging the dolls and furniture. Just as she was about to lay the mommy doll down on the couch (because the mommies she knows spend so much time lying on the couch), something in her dollhouse moved and she was shocked to find a good-sized (as in larger than the dolls) lizard lounging on the dollhouse living room rug.
Can you see the panic in the eyes of those dolls?
The next part of the story is best told through dialog.

Erin: Hallie, please stop screaming and go sit on the living room couch. Will, I need your help. Put on your big boy pants and come with me.
Will: Put on my what?
Erin: Just come with me.
Will: What are we doing?
Erin: Catching a lizard.
Will: Awwww, Mom, I hate lizards.
Erin: It's not possible that you hate them more than I do. And since your daddy's not home, you're going to man-up and help me.
Will: Fine.

Will and I enter Hallie's bedroom and I shut the door behind us.

Erin: Take Hallie's bath towel and wedge it under the bedroom door. I'll wedge her pajamas under the door to the closet, and then we're going to build a book barrier between the dollhouse and the bed. (The only thing worse than a lizard in my house is a lizard in my house that I can't find. My goal here was to contain the lizard within an area I could easily supervise.)
Will: Um, ok.
Erin: Crap, he's leaving the living room and heading into the kitchen.  Oops.  Don't say "crap", Will - it's a bad word. Ok, Will, your job is to keep an eye on the lizard - DON'T LET HIM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT - while I gather a few supplies.
Will: Got it.
My book barrier - clever, right?
I run through the house, grabbing buckets and tupperwares and construction paper and scotch tape and then return to Hallie's bedroom.

Will: Now what?
Erin: Will, look at me. This is very important. I will give, get, or buy you WHATEVER YOU WANT - in the whole wide world - if you will catch this lizard for me. Anything. AN.Y.THING.
Will: Really?
Erin: Really.
Will: Give me that bucket.

Will attempts to catch the lizard while I hyperventilate and guard the two foot space we couldn't block off with the book barrier. Unfortunately his best attempt catches only the lizard's tail, and I take over.

My lizard-catching style hasn't changed much since we moved to Texas.

Step 1: trap lizard under cup, bucket, or in this case, large tupperware container.

Step 2: perform calming, deep breathing exercises until heart rate slows.

Step 3: ease magazine cover, construction paper, or card stock under container.

Step 4: slowly push container - with lizard trapped inside - across floor to door.

Step 5: on the count of three and as Will opens door, pick up container using paper bottom and heave paper, tupperware, and lizard into yard.  Pray that paper, tupperware, and/or lizard don't hit passerby.

Step 6: slam door.

Step 7: cry a little.

This lizard evacuation was no different than any other, with the exception of the lizard's size; this buddy (when I call them "buddy" they seem less scary) was twice as big as our usual lizards. I was worried this lizard would somehow get out of the tupperware (as I was telling her this story, my friend Erin asked me, "Erin, you know lizards aren't strong enough to lift tupperwares, right?" I think she's right, but this Midwestern Girl couldn't be certain), so as I pushed and pulled the tupperware through the house to the door, I made Will sit on top of it and scoot along with me. I felt pretty confident the lizard wasn't going to escape with 44 pounds of kindergartener weighing down the enclosure.

The moral of this story is...well, there's no moral of this story. When it comes down to it, this blog is about life in Texas.  And since lizards share this great state with me, they deserve a little screen time if only because they're the universe's way to of allowing me to teach my children how important it is to face your fears.  And that it's perfectly acceptable to cry when you're scared.

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