I was at the kitchen sink when I heard a terrible shrieking upstairs: “My head! My head! Let go of my head! No! NOOOOOOO!!! Not the window! DON’T PUT MY HEAD OUT THE WINDOW!”
I played a lot of sports as a kid. Here’s the kind of thing I use those skills for these days: I pivotted away from the sink, set down the glass I had been filling, and sprinted out of the kitchen, dodging toys and backpacks and shoes, faking out the puppy, taking the stairs two at a time, arms pumping, heart pounding, envisioning the terrible scene that was surely playing out in the kids’ room: a brother dangling the other out the second story window. Or at least trying to.
The second story windows on our old house terrify me. They are low enough to the floor that it would be easy for a kid to climb out of them. We have child locks to prevent them from opening too far, but still I worry (especially as I have had a hard time convincing Milo and Duncan that they cannot actually fly when they are wearing capes).
As I summited the stairs, Duncan ran out of his room with a tear-stained face. “Mommy! Mommy! Milo has my head!” he cried. “He took my head! He’s gonna throw it out the window!”
His head was clearly still attached to his neck. I cocked my own to the side, sifting through the possible explanations for his distress. Were they so deeply involved in some imaginative game that Duncan had lost his grip on reality? Maybe Milo had removed Duncan’s head (in their game) and now his pantomime of threatening to throw it out the window was too upsetting for Duncan to keep his cool. (I promise you, this is not at all a farfetched scenario in our household.) Or maybe they had been roughhousing and Milo had pinned his big brother up against the window and tried to push his head through. (Unfortunately, this is also not a farfetched scenario.) But before I could ask for any further information, Milo came out of the kids’ bedroom with his fist clenched to his chest.
“Hi,” he said, testing the waters.
“Please, Milo, please! Please, I am begging: give me back my head!” Duncan sobbed.
Milo sidled up to us, a little smile playing on his lips, clearly enjoying having the upper hand.
“Please, Milo? Pleasey pinky?”
“Okay,” he said, opening his fist. “Here, Guncan. Here your head is!”
And there it was: one small yellow Lego man head.
Duncan snatched it away lest Milo change his mind. When I raised my eyebrows at his grabbing, he spoke up in his defense: “It’s my best head, Mommy,” he said with a sniffle. Then he wiped his tears off with the back of his wrist and said, “C’mon, Milo, let’s go find a body!”