While I was at work yesterday, my mother called to tell me what a sweet boy AJ had been during his sleepover at my sister's. I can only assume this is because he doesn't play the Ninja Game when over there. The Ninja Game is a new one where he tries to sneak up on me while I'm watching TV or playing with the poker machine. Most of the time, I see his reflection in windows or I hear him scuffling along on the carpet, but he's gotten me a couple times. Once, I was fully engrossed on the computer, laser focus, and he came up and slapped me on the back.
I flew off the couch like I was dropped into hot grease.
Back to him being sweet, though. Mom, of course, thinks Emet has had a good influence on the boy, which she has. Chief among her good traits, to Mom's eyes, is that she gets my lazy ass (and AJ's somewhat less lazy ass) to church more often. There's a tip for you fellas, if you want your Mom to like the girl you're bringing home, just casually mention that the two of you go to church. She's in.
We have all noticed a change in AJ recently. It's not that he's sweeter, really. It's that he's become more mature. With that maturity has come a better focus, like in his reading of situations, when to be respectful and behaved, as opposed to his usual 100 mph, goofy self.
We got to spend a few days together last week on his Spring Break and he's no longer that kid I have to keep right next to me for fear he'll wander off into traffic or stumble into a strip club by accident. He's more interactive. For instance, he's somewhat notorious among other kids for his non-sequiters. Yes, they are hilarious. But they were also a sign that he was not really listening to what's going on around him, was off in his own head (hmmm, wonder where he gets that from?) and when he finally returned to the group, he had nothing to contribute but the fact that he is enamored of Kit Kats.
Our Spring Break trip to the museums near USC was a revelation. Usually, we'd spend the week at amusement parks, but I figured he'd appreciate some culture. What I didn't expect was how inquisitive he'd be at the Science Museum. I found myself explaining every exhibit to him and he actually stood there and listened without chasing after the nearest shinier object. Most of the items there were hands-on, he got to shoot a rocket and pick the best sail angle for wind direction and go into the "Earthquake Room" and he was fascinated by all of it, never once pulling away from me as we discussed the science. Only once all day did he express the slightest dismay and that was when we had to leave.
When I got home from work last night, I got caught up on his day, him clinging to me as I changed clothes (not easy to do with 60 lbs. hugging your leg). We're joking around when comes the sound of a police helicopter outside. "Ohhhhh, somebody's busted!" I say. "Maybe they're looking for you," AJ says and I assure him I didn't do anything illegal.
Shortly, he went back to his playroom for video games and Emet slides up to me with a conspiratorial look on her face. I expected her to tell me a cute story about my adorable son, but she says, "Did you lock the door when you came in?" I did. "Because I heard voices and rustling in the back yard."
Really? We have criminals in our garden?
I go over to the open window and listen. Well, that could be rustling. No voices though. "Okay, stay here. Do you have your phone?" She did not. The helicopter flies over again and its spotlight is pretty close.
I hustle downstairs to grab both our phones, now in full-scale Man of the House Mode. I take them upstairs and instruct her to lock herself and the child in the bathroom should any shenanigans ensue. Now, I need a weapon.
I go back downstairs, quietly, listening intently. I turn on the backyard lights, which are more like nightlights than flood lights, and are thus not helpful. I check all the doors. We're good. I go into the garage and, holy shit, those are very definitely muffled voices I hear. Quickly, I grab a 5-iron, because it's my most reliable club, can stripe it 205 yards in my sleep, though it occurs to me later that the shorter shaft of a 9-iron was probably a better choice in the case of close hand combat, but I've been known to hit the 9 fat, so the confidence I have with the 5 probably outweighs that fact.
Regardless, I'm armed and ready to defend my castle. I lock the garage door behind me, feel the heft of the 5-iron in my hand and possibly take a practice swing or two, I can't quite recall. I'm making my way to the family room, listening intently, eying the windows for the slightest movement, impeccable Vardon Grip on the club, when...
AJ jumps up from behind the couch, big self-congratulatory grin on his face, I think. I'm not sure, because I've shot through the ceiling.
"Did I scare you?"
I'm not sure how, but I modulated my voice, if not my heartbeat, pretty quickly, so as not to alert him to the dangers RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR. "Honey, no more Ninja Game tonight, okay?"
"Okay." And he went back upstairs. It was then I realized I'd dropped the 5-iron.
There was nobody in our backyard. Or, if there was, they did not attempt to storm our dwelling. Emet and I laughed about it this morning. "I think you can put your 5-iron away," she said, seeing it leaned against my night stand.
"Yeah, the nine is probably better anyway."