“Dear Mr. Schrock,” or, the letter I didn’t write

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

“Dear Mr. Schrock.” That’s how they always began. Written by me, beleaguered housewife and mother of his children, it was my SOS, a twenty-first century smoke signal to The Mister in his office pristine.

“Dear Mr. Schrock,” read the most recent bulletin from the battlefront. “From the sounds of it, your kids are killing each other. Further, they may be dismantling the dining room one 2×4 at a time, judging by the thumps and bumps I hear from downstairs. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come home quick and save your kids. From me! Signed, Your loving wife.”

As expected, crickets chirped in another town where the children’s father was apparently relaxing, possibly even eating chocolate as Rome burned. And as expected, a few of my closest friends chimed in.

A news correspondent was the first. Helpfully, she LOL’d (laughed out loud). Three times. A local DJ laughed, too, along with some others, and a lively discussion ensued.

One of The Mister’s best friends chipped in with a warning. “Mr. Schrock,” he wrote, “your weekend could be spoiled by the wrath of your wife.” This was followed by a smiley face. Of course, I LOL’d myself, dutifully passed it on, and was rewarded with a good 30-second view of the whites of his eyes.

As I learned later, I quit too soon. Several days later, those boys of his really gave me something to write about. This time, though, he was at home when it happened, so there was no relaxing or eating of chocolates when things in Rome got hot.

There was no time to write about it; not then. Instead, there was shouting, thundering feet, agonized groaning over a sink and a lavender towel pressed tightly to a hand. That, and the BMV (Blue Mommy Van) speeding for the emergency room.

Two boys. One machete. Five stitches. That was the Reader’s Digest condensed version I offered later to friends and family who saw the photo.

“Show me your pain face,” I’d said, cell phone in hand as I pointed at the chart on the wall. From a blinding smile (no pain, a 1) to a deathbed grimace (about to go, a 10), cartoon faces depicted the hurt. He sized it up and with typical dramatic flair, he pulled a terrible face (a 6) as Mother snapped the picture. It was vintage Kid Kaboom.

What I didn’t post that day, but could have, may have gone something like this: “Dear Mr. Schrock, Given the recent incident with the Honduran machete, I believe the day has come. You know the whole ‘desperate times, desperate measures’ thing? That’s what I’m talking about.

“As I am personally eager to avoid another sprint to the ER with a kid who’s threatening to ask the nurse if he’s dying, I propose a whole-house purge. If you would confiscate all machetes, pocketknives, Swiss army knives and switchblades, I’d be grateful.

“Feel free to replace these tools of terror with any number of instruments that possess blades of either rubber or Tupperware. You pick. Just don’t take my favorite Cutco serrated-edge paring knife, however. You know I can’t cut those fresh tomatoes you love with a plastic butter knife. I’ll need a lock box for it, though; preferably something with a retinal scanner or a secret code so those guys can’t snitch it.

“Further, to reduce the threat level from orange to yellow, I’m resigning as Activities Director. You’re hired. Don’t look at this as a demotion. Try to see it as your shot at greatness. If you can defuse this volatile situation, disarming local warring factions and redirecting that energy into positive pursuits, your future is bright.

“Don’t be surprised if the White House calls. Hillary may be out of a job come November, you know, and they’ll need someone to fill that spot. You’d be perfect for it.

“Meanwhile, you’ll need to come up with stuff to keep ‘em busy. I’d suggest knitting or crocheting, but those take needles. I’m feeling faint at the thought.

“I’d suggest coloring or LEGOs, but the big ones won’t color. Then they leave the LEGOs out, and you and I end up stepping on ‘em and there goes the neighborhood.

“You could send them out to play Dead Man on the trampoline, but you’ll have to watch ‘em. For one thing, one pair of legs cheats. Then someone lands on someone else and they nearly end up killing each other again. So this may not be the best idea I’ve ever had.

“Anyway, you’re a terribly smart guy. You did graduate magna cum laude, so I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Signed, Your loving wife.”

That’s what I didn’t say, and it’s what he didn’t read. Not unless he reads the paper, in which case I’ll be graduating myself; as in, “quick cum laude.” Quick. Come, Lord.

Note:  This “Grounds for Insanity” column was published in the 08/13/12 edition of The Goshen News. 

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