Locked In

Addison readying . . . everywhere.
One of three different swings on which Addison was reading yesterday.

When we first moved into our house, we noticed something weird. Our neighbors never wore pants. Okay, that’s not true. They wore only pants. No, really, we had no neighbors. Or we had no pants. Our neighbors were Señor and Señora Pantalones. Alright, honestly, it wasn’t that weird.

We have two bedrooms at the end of the hall upstairs. One of them, now Colin’s room, had a doorknob with a lock in it. That wasn’t weird. The doors to every room had locks in them. The doors to closets, pantries: no locks. None of that is weird.

But one bedroom, what eventually became Addison’s room, the one right next to Colin’s, had no lock. Our utility closet did have a lock that ensured our furnace and hot water heater could enjoy as much privacy as they needed. So, you know, kinda weird. Not Señor Pantalones weird, but just, oh, it’s weird that someone at some point thought, Hey, what if someone tries to break in and take the air filter RIGHT OUT OF THE DUCT WORK?

It was a moot point, though. No one ever did try to break into our utility closet. And Colin locking doors is generally a bad idea. That’s another story. But now that Colin is four and Addison is almost eight and they’re practically the same size (craziness), Addison has grown increasingly interested in keeping his wrecking ball of a brother out of his room full of Legos. This doesn’t require further explanation, does it? It’s often too ugly to talk about publicly. I’d rather gloss over it.

Glossing . . . the thing about the Lego incidents is that we’d like Colin to learn to play with the same Legos Addison loves to build. The tiny ones. The ones that build finger strength and dexterity and spawn creativity. They’re meant to be played with in teams. Or duos. Or Boys, stop punching each other and build the stupid space destroyer in peace! Togetherness. That’s what Legos are all about.

But this summer, Addison has been increasingly addicted to reading, a pastime best enjoyed without the participation of a 50-pound, page-ripping imp. Addison wanted to read for hours. Colin preferred to create his own dramatic narrative. And, unlike our approach to the Lego scene, we couldn’t just tell Addison to let Colin join him. But we also couldn’t tell Colin to leave Addison alone, at least not with any realistic hopes that he would listen. It was like telling Peter Rabbit to stay out of Farmer McGregor’s garden.

One night, the endless fight pushed me past the breaking point. And by “breaking point,” I mean that point at which I decide to get off my butt and do something. I walked downstairs into the utility room, unscrewed the locking doorknob from its housing, brought it up to Addison’s room, removed the security-free version previously embedded in Colin’s favorite door to open (and Addison’s favorite door to slam), and then beckoned Addison to pry his eyes away from the book upon which his eyes had been locked for so long (he had gotten to the point where he could pummel his little brother without diverting his gaze from the book in his hand; impressive, but not exactly constructive).

Then I said, “Hey, Addison, watch this!” And I locked his door. Addison sprang up, pumped his fist, and yelled, “YES!” It was like Christmas morning. For all of us, really. Addison has his privacy. We have our sanity. And Colin has the great thrill of engaging in activities that don’t require sibling torment (aka, boring old crap, but whatever).

The door is unlocked most of the time, by the way. But when things get crazy (every hour, on the hour), it’s nice for our calls for cease fire to have the support of the necessary hardware.

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