Gus is lucky to be alive after last night's episode of "Only a Boy Would ..."
There are people who claim there's no inherent difference between boys and girls. Gender roles, they proclaim, are largely imposed on children by society. And yet as a girl, I (unlike Gus) never asked my brother if he wanted to smell my feet. The thought just never crossed my mind.
Last night, in an act of domestic posturing, I was standing at the kitchen counter chopping a red pepper for the salad when Gus shuffled in, eyes cast down at the floor.
"I did something naughty, but I didn't cry, and it doesn't hurt," he said.
"Okay, good. Do you want cranberries in your salad or separately?"
"It doesn't hurt," he said again. "I'm okay."
I looked down at him. And then at the small burn hole in his pajama top.
"What happened to your pajamas, Gus?"
"Oh this?" he said, sticking his finger through the hole. "This is nothing."
Technically true. And yet, I felt the absence of fabric worth looking into.
"How did it happen?"
"Well," he said, gesturing toward the bedroom. "There was some smoke and lights, but I didn't cry, and it doesn't hurt."
In the bedroom, we all gathered by Larry's side of the bed. A metal pin--the kind you use to inflate bicycle tires--lay melted and smoldering on the floor.
"I sticked it in the light," Gus confessed.
What I couldn't figure out is what made him decide to stick the pin in the socket where the light bulb should be. Or how he managed to set sparks flying and smoke smoking, ultimately blowing a circuit, burning a hole in his pajamas, scorching his chest, all without getting knocked unconscious or even, as he reminded me so many times, crying.
He swears he never got a shock, though he was so adamant about it (NO MOM! I did NOT get shocked!), I think he doth protest too much.
The only thing I can figure is that he placed the pin in the socket and let go of it, taking it out only after the sparks flew and the circuit blew, and he knew he was going to be in serious trouble. Then, because the pin was hot, he might have jerked his hand back and burned the hole in his pajamas before throwing the pin on the floor.
This morning I was reminding Larry to tell Gus's teacher what had happened, lest she think I burned my child with the butt of a cigarette.
"No!" Gus screamed. "Don't tell Miss Barbara!"
"I don't want her to worry."
"She won't worry, as long as we tell her what happened."
"No! Don't tell her. She will freak out."
Because that's what women do.