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Jekylls and Hydes

There are very few things in my life that I look at and feel my chest fill with pride as I mentally point to them and say, “I had a hand in that.” Two of those things – twelve-year-old Thing1 and six-year-old Thing2 – keep me pretty busy as chauffeur, cook, tutor, and maid, and I do love it when I get the chance to stop and admire the fruit of my and my husband’s labors. Today was one of those days.

We’re trying to design a fence to keep our dog in the yard and our too-friendly neighborhood porcupine out and decided to go over the state line to visit a farm owned by friends in Cambridge to check out their fence design. The couple is very kid tolerant, but Thing1 and Thing2 were still in the throes of a series of preteen-flavored jokes that had begun the night before on the way home from a party, and we spent the short trip letting them know the shenanigans would stop as soon as we shut off the car engine.

As luck would have it, threats of military school or lifetime groundings were unnecessary.

The farm owners showed us their fences and the livestock they protect – a small flock of sheep. They and their very friendly border collie treated us and the boys to a sheep herding demonstration.

Thing2 is always enchanted by animals, especially farm animals (I think he senses there’s a snowball’s chance we could be talked into getting sheep or horses at some point), and he was uncharacteristically quiet as he petted the sheep and donkeys. Score one for the parents, I thought, and I glanced at Thing1 for a behavior check.

Thing1, who is currently trying to earn money to build his own computer, was engrossed in a discussion with the husband. He’s already a few inches taller than I, and he looked strangely adult to me as he carried on an adult conversation without any antics.

The six of us chatted about fences and Hubbard Hall and farms until the first flakes and drops of an impending late winter storm pulled us in our different directions. As we walked back to our car, I could  hear Thing2 beginning to formulate a new song-and-dance routine, but it was more happy than hysteria. Thing1 was as dignified as a twelve-year-old could be, and I treated myself to a mental pat on the back as we got in the car.

Then I put the car in reverse, and, before I had backed out of our spot, dignity and mental pats were mere memories. Sensing a lapse in our vigilance, Thing1 and Thing2 launched into their favorite game – Sound Effects Theatre, Seventh Grade Edition. Trying to ignore the snorts and burps coming from the back seat, I pulled out into traffic wondering whose kids were back there.