Here's something I've learned: The nine-year-old is immeasurably goofier than the five-year-old. It's not even close. The five-year-old and I spend our weekdays together, save the two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon when he's at preschool. And, for the most part, he's incredibly easy to be around.
Of course, this was also the case back in the day, before the nine-year-old started school. But with age comes goofiness. I suppose this is to be expected, at least for boys. My wife said just the other day that she wished my mom was still alive to ask her what I was like at that age. I'd love to know too. I have vague memories of being a huge pain in the ass but I don't have the perspective of being on the business end of all the nonsense.
That has changed over the last year or so. My day now consists of me and my wife pleading with the nine-year-old to dial down the silliness. Without fail, he's eager and agreeable. Also without fail: the cease-fire rarely lasts more than a few minutes, and usually only a few seconds.
Full-on Groundhog Day ensues.
I yell and scream -- to the point that if somebody is walking by our house they're probably convinced a murder is in progress -- the nine-year-old finally realizes I'm serious, and he eventually apologizes for it. Then I'll stupidly ask him why he does it, to which he invariably has no earthly idea.
He does it because he's nine. That's the answer. That will always be the answer. And I suspect it will be the answer when he's 10, 11, 12 and well into his 20s. You'd think he'd get tired of hearing my "You're getting older, and that means you have to be a responsible role model for your brother" speech. But given the frequency with which that speech is delivered, I can only conclude that it's is favorite time of day.
Or, perhaps, there's a simpler explanation.
IT'S BECAUSE HE'S NINE. And when you're nine, you're literally thinking about THIS VERY MOMENT and nothing else. Not what might happen in 30 seconds, a minute or an hour, but how you feel RIGHT NOW. And right now, the most annoying sound in the world is HILARIOUS. (That's me in the middle):
The goofiness manifests itself in many forms, and usually tangentially implicates his brother. There are the loud, annoying noises; the inane arguments; and the slapstick routines in small spaces. These small spaces include the play room, which is conveniently located next to my office or, just as frequently, the backseat of the car.
And that's the best. When you're literally driving the circus through town. I'm not proud to admit that on more than one occasion I've done the old-school move where the dad reaches behind him with one arm while driving with the other desperately hoping to grab somebody's -- anybody's -- leg while screaming -- pleading -- some form of PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! as he loses his voice.
It's a humbling moment, when the kids realize their dad's about to have an aneurysm. And because you didn't have an aneurysm, you all have to sit there in awkward silence until you try to explain away the crazy.
For now, this is my life, pretty much every day of the week. There is a silver lining, however: In four years, we'll get to relive it all over again with his younger brother.