Can’t These Hooligans Retire?

Categorized as 03/10/08 Goshen News article

One sure sign of spring in Wakarusa is the upcoming Maple Syrup Festival. This annual event holds special significance for the greater Schrock family because it was at this very festival some years ago that our son and one of his cousins (who were about two and three at the time) solidly established themselves as career hooligans. Names will be withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, but here’s what happened.

At that time we were living right uptown, which made our house a perfect base of operations. Not only that, but we had killer garage sales with our primo spot on the main strip. That particular year we were again having our annual sale. We were busy with shoppers, the kids were in and out of the house, and there was general chaos. Suddenly, the cry went up, “Where are the boys?”

Nothing strikes greater fear in the heart of a mother than knowing her child is missing. Wakarusa is a small town, but it may as well have been a vast metropolis with the thousands of people thronging the streets that day. Instantly we mobilized with one aunt staying at home base while the mother of hooligan number two (who was pregnant at the time) and I went running uptown looking for two very small pairs of jeans in a very big crowd. When they didn’t materialize, I limped home fully intending to call 911, but there they were. Auntie, who had stayed behind, told us later that she heard a dog bark in the distance. She followed the sound, saw a flash of a small red coat, and tore across neighboring lawns to snatch up two crestfallen strays.

We should have known those two had formed a dangerous alliance when as toddlers they used our toilet and turned the bathroom into their own personal water park. It was an alert older brother who blew the whistle that night and spoiled their fun. I can still see hooligan two (H2) toddling out of our room, soggy and crying with a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe. While two mamas mopped up the manmade lake, two daddies stuck two crying boys into the tub and mopped them up.

Never being ones to rest on their laurels, they furthered their careers in hooliganism a few Christmases ago when they trapped themselves in Grandma’s linen closet. “Didn’t anyone hear the boys yelling?” Auntie said, coming into the living room.

It’s bad when no one has to ask anymore, “Which boys?” You just know.

Uncle Reggie was passing by the bathroom, she said, and heard muffled cries coming from the closet. The little monkeys had folded themselves up underneath the bottom shelf, and then one of them had reached a little arm out, grabbed the bottom of the door, and pulled it shut. Of course, it was dark. Of course, they were trapped. Of course, they panicked. Lucky for them, it was Uncle Reg to the rescue. “They sure tumbled out fast,” he said, laughing.

It’s not that the older siblings of these two have unblemished records, make no mistake. Our oldest son has his own Maple Syrup Festival moment he has yet to live down. But that’s another story (or two or three) for another day.

As parents of four sons, so accustomed have we become to antics and shenanigans that we actually start checking temperatures and tonsils if a week goes by without something ridiculous happening. We’ve even developed a secret code. “IAYF (it’s all your fault),” we chant in unison, pointing at one another for effect.

Unfortunately, H1 and H2 show no signs of retiring, seeing as how they’re in the third and second grades, respectively. It’s likely that they have a long and prolific career ahead of them, so there will be no relaxation anytime soon for their parents who must remain ever vigilant.

Hey, maybe we could make a deal at our next garage sale. Buy one, get one free? See you at the festival.

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