Quality Time

Eli stole my wheelchair.

I could hear tinkering sounds and badly suppressed three-year-old giggles outside the bathroom door.  I asked Eli what he was doing.

“Nothing . . .”  More giggles.

“Are you playing with my wheelchair?”

“What wheelchair?  Can you describe it?”  Thanks Charlie.  We urge Charlie to interact with his little brother and it results in Charlie teaching Eli to tactically play ignorant.   More giggles.

I heard the wheelchair rolling away and knew the larceny was complete.  I finished up in the bathroom and quickly used the calculator on my phone to determine the term Eli would serve in time out.  With good behavior he would get out approximately . . . never.

I went into the bathroom earlier while Eli was watching Team Umi Zoomi and drinking apple juice.  My wife and Charlie had early appointments this Saturday morning and would run errands after.  It was just me and Eli for the morning.  Not a big deal.  Even though I am recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and my right foot is in a cast, my wheelchair keeps me mobile enough to watch Eli around the house and even do certain chores. 

I have crutches and a walker that I occasionally use as well.  I use the wheelchair when I’m up for extended periods of time.  This is because I originally had surgery on both ankles late this summer and my left ankle is still tender.  That makes hopping on crutches kind of uncomfortable.  I had a second surgery on my right ankle in late September because sometimes I make poor decisions.  That is another story.

At this point I was in the bathroom while a larcenous three-year-old was taking my wheelchair for a joy ride.  My walker was just down the hall in the living room.  I could crawl that far.  Earlier in the recovery process crawling was my main form of locomotion.  It is still how I negotiate stairs.  It would be humiliating, but luckily I gave up having dignity sometime during the second Clinton administration.

I opened the door and crawled out.  In the living room I saw Eli standing next to my chair.  He was loading my walker on it.  He balanced it across the seat and started to wheel away. “Ha, Ha, Ha Daddy!” he howled.  “I have your walk thing, too!”

Seriously?  This little prank was turning into a pattern of behavior.  This was a criminal enterprise with Eli as the kingpin.  He giggled loudly as he turned into the kitchen.

I had a couple of options here.  I could pretend to be sad and tearful and go all “Poor Daddy doesn’t have his wheelchair” on him.  The problem was that at this age Eli is exploring all his emotions and thinks we should be also.  He was more than willing for me to feel a few moments of sorrow.  He didn’t mind me experiencing a little anger either, so going the stern route was probably useless at this point also.  I decided to play his little game.

I turned right immediatly and crawled through the other kitchen entrance.  He wheeled through the kitchen to the pantry where I cornered him.

“Awwww,” He cooed.  “Daddy is a puppy.”

“Elijah, I am not a puppy.  Give me my chair.”  I was sorely missing my dignity at this point.

“Daddy walks like a puppy.  Sit puppy.”


“Sit puppy,”  he reached into the pantry.

“Elijah, I will not sit.  Give me my chair.”

Eli pulled his hand out of the pantry.  He had a Milkbone in it.  “Sit puppy.  Puppy want a bone?”

I pulled out the big guns.  I used all three of his names.  His eyes widened slightly and he put the Milkbone back.

“I’m sorry Daddy,” he said.  He lowered his head slightly and the lip came out causing an immediate softening of my heart.  The boys just have this look . . . hopefully they learn to use it for the power good.

“It’s ok, buddy.  You were having fun, huh”

“Yep,” he said.  At the same time he turned and opened the door to the dining room, grabbed my chair and fled.  The walker fell off as he ran through the dining room and I pounced on it.  Ha . . . I was mobile now.  I was “walking” back to the hallway when I heard a thump and a crash quickly follwed by crying.

It was the classic “I am not seriously injured, but this sure stings” cry.  I looked into the hallway.  Eli had rammed my chair into the bathroom door jamb.  How ironic.  Back to where it all started.  Just like in the old detective stories, the culprit always returns to the scene of the crime.  I looked down at Eli.  His big blue-grey eyes were filled with tears and he was holding his foot.

“Ha . . . serves you right you wheelchair thieving little miscreant,”

Relax . . . that was inner monologue.  I did not call him a miscreant or say “Ha” to him when he had an owie.  I hopped over and sat next to him.  We had hugs and kisses and wiped tears.  His toes got a kiss that made them all better.  We decided a cookie would complete his recovery.  I got in my chair and put him in my lap.  He sat facing me so he could put his head on my shoulder and we “could have some more hugs.”  We went to the kitchen.

I sat him on the counter and gave him his cookie.  He told me how funny it was that he stole my wheelchair.  I agreed that it was a little funny.

“I was going to give it back after I stole it for awhile,” he said.  “Eli not keep it.”

I fell a little more in love with him and rubbed his hair.  “I know buddy.  Sometimes it is funny to do that, huh?”

His mouth was full so he nodded his agreement and smiled with his eyes.

I smiled back.  I looked around a bit.  I felt my pockets. 

“Eli, have you seen Daddy’s phone?”

“What phone?” he said through his cookie.  “Can you describe it?”

Diaper Extras

Just a few extra notes before I sign off.  We’ve been published!  I recently had a piece printed in the University of Alaska’s Literary Magazine “Aurora”.  The link is posted on the Facebook page.  Check it out.  Being published is an honor and frankly, really cool.  Stay tuned, there are some other possibilities coming in the future.

We have our own internet address.  You can get to us through www.thissideofthediaper.com  We plan to upgrade the look on the website.  I just need to learn how to work all the gadgets that are available.


Thanks for reading folks.  I’ll see you again soon on This Side of the Diaper.


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