Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Story - Based on Actual Events

The Mystery of the Missing Legos

While cleaning his room Saturday morning, my son made a grisly discovery.
“Mom!” he screamed from his room.
I ran to see what the problem was, “What?” I asked as I burst through the door.
I was met with large, wet, blue eyes brimming with tears. My son was squatting next to his most precious possession: a canister of 500 Lego’s he had received last year for Christmas and on his face was a look of pure anguish. “My Lego’s are missing!”
I made a face, “No they’re not. I’m sure they’re all in there. Remember how even when we opened it for the first time, it was only full halfway? That’s just how they do it.”
“No!” He yelled in protest. I could see he was both frustrated and hurt that I didn’t believe him. “Look!”
Rolling my eyes at his dramatic flair, I moved closer and looked into the plastic box. He was right. There were maybe 100 Legos inside. And they were all tiny. Where were the rest? I looked up at him, “Holy cow!” I said, “Where are the rest?”
Now it was his turn to roll his eyes, “I don’t know. If I knew, I would go get them!”
My son was only 6.5 years old, and even at his age he was not one for losing things; especially not his Lego’s. It was nearly Thanksgiving, and he hadn’t lost a single one out of 500 in the eleven months since he’d received them. I had never stepped on Legoes in the night, I had never vacummed up a stray block. From Christmas morning till now, he had taken care of each and every one like they were tiny bars of gold.
“Well, where could they be?” I muttered under my breath. By now I was searching my memory banks to remember if I had seen 400 stray legos lying around anywhere. I had. But it was days ago.
“Hey Lemur, remember on Monday, when you came home from school?”
“Do you remember seeing the Legos when you came home that day?”
His eyes lit up with a 6 year-olds rage and then narrowed, “RIVER!!” He yelled his sister’s name just as I looked over to her in the adjoining Family room. She jumped a little at the sound.
“What?” she answered, surprised but unbullied by his tone.
He stood and stomped over to her. I followed. “Where are my Legos?!” he demanded.
“You don’t need to yell at her, Liam,”I chided.

“But she TOOK them - without asking! - and now I can’t find them!”
I turned his face to look at me, “But you don’t have to yell.” Then I took a deep breath and he followed my example. “River was building with daddy," I reminded him, "so don’t get mad at her. Let’s just ask if she knows where they went.”
I squatted down next to my 3 year old daughter who was playing with a Weebles treehouse, “River-bottom, do you know where Liam’s Lego’s went?” She ignored me, “River.” She looked up, “Remember when you played with Daddy the other day, and you played with Liam’s Legos?”
“Uh-huh. We built a castle.”
“Oh, yes.” I said, remembering the super-awesome dollhouse/castle my husband had built for his daughter out of his son’s Legos. Come to think of it, super-awesome doesn’t do it justice . . . anyway, I asked, “Do you remember where you put them when you were done?”
She sniffed absently. She said “Nope,” and went back to playing.
“Hmm.” I said, “I’ll go call Daddy and see if he remembers.”
I opened the phone and went up the stairs, hoping that I would just see the Lego’s displayed somewhere higher than the kids normally looked.
“Hey honey.”
“What’s up?”
“Do you remember the castle you built with River on Monday?”
“Do you know where it is?”
“You mean now?”
I heard a scream downstairs. “Because your son has noticed that about 400 Legos are missing from his box and is now screaming like a banshee at your daughter whom he blames for the loss.”
“Ah.” He started laughing.
“It’s not funny,” I chastised half-heartedly.
“Yes it is. Cause you’re home and I’m not,” he said, giggling.
I chuckled a little as well, until another bout of screaming wafted up the stairs. “You seriously don’t remember cleaning them up or something?”
“No. Did you check – “ and then he listed about fourteen of the most obvious places in the house, each of which I had already given the once-over.
“I don’t know what to do. He’s going crazy!”
“Just tell him it’s a game of Hide and Go Seek and the Legos’ are hiding.”
“See, this is why I call you,” I said with a sigh, “because I was about to go out and buy him more!” I laughed, but my husband didn’t see that it was funny.
“No, don’t do that.”
I laughed harder. “I won’t. Thanks. Love you.”
I returned back down the stairs to find my son crying on his bed, his sister standing in the doorway to his room with her hands on her hips yelling, “No. I. Didn’t!”
“YES YOU DID!” He screamed.
And back to the job.
“Okay, you two. Knock it off.”
River had the decency to look up at me with regret (for yelling or for being caught – it didn’t matter to me), but my son continued to cry even after I sent River out to play in the family room.
I sat beside him on the bed, prepared to implement my husband’s idea.
“Hey Lemur. Let’s pretend that the Lego’s are hiding, and we have to find them.”
“But we don’t have any clues!” He wailed through slowing tears.
And then it hit me. Not Hide-and-Go-Seek!
“Well, it is a mystery . . .” I began, hoping he’d take the bait.
His crying stopped. He looked at me with wild joy in his wet eyes, “Like a real mystery?” the excitement in his voice was obvious.
I nodded. I had a feeling this would work better if it was entirely his idea. He actually needed no further prodding.
He literally jumped off the bed, tears forgotten and pain behind him. He was in the throes of imagination. “We can find clues!” he exclaimed. “We have to question witnesses and keep a log!” He scurried to his desk and found a tiny Spiderman notebook, “Here, you write everything down. Let’s solve the case!” He put his hand out toward me. The excitement was catching. I put my hand on his, he put his other one on mine, and my other hand made the top of the pile. “Real Mystery!” he shouted.
“Let’s get going!”

“Okay, first things first,” I had taught him that platitude about four months ago when he began having chores. He loved to use it.“When did they go missing?”
“The last time Daddy or River saw them was on Monday, before Kenneth came over for dinner.” I said.
He was pacing in front of me as I sat on the bed, with one arm behind his back and his other hand stroking his chin, “We had better call Kenneth and see if he saw it,” he surmised.
“Good idea.” I took out the phone and began dialing.
“You intrerrogate him,” he instructed.
My eyes lit up in surprise. I didn’t know he knew that word. “Okay,” I answered.
Kenneth picked up after the third ring. “ ‘ello ‘ello.”
“Hey minion.”
“ ‘ello! Mrs. Muad’Dib!”
“I’m on assignment,” I said, my tone formal.
“Liam and I are on a case. And we need your help. You are a witness.”
“Oh, am I?” He sounded downright gleeful.
“Yes. Will you help us?” Liam was listening with baited breath, his eyes never leaving my face.
“Always as ever I can, Sayyadina.”
I smiled at the use of my multiple Dune-themed nicknames, “Thanks. You came over for dinner on Monday night, correct?”
“And what time did you get here?”
“We arrived shortly after 5:30 pm,” He answered with a clipped tone. I knew he was doing it for Liam, for full dramatic effect. And it was working. Liam was intent on the conversation.
“And what did you see as you entered the house?”
“Uh . . .” He seemed confused, “You want me to describe everything?”
Liam interjected, “No! Did you see my Legos?!”
Kenneth and I laughed. And he answered, “No I don’t remember seeing any Legos. I did see the kids sitting at the pirate table, and they were watching Enchanted.”
“They would have been built like a house or castle?” I offered, hoping to jog his memory.
“Nope. Only clean house smelling of wonderful chowder-y goodness.”
Liam looked disappointed and we were silent for a moment.
“Does that help?” Kenneth asked.
“Yes. Thanks. We better get back to the investigation.”
“Anytime. Bye.” And we hung up.
Liam flopped on the bed, face first, his legs dangling off the edge, “That didn’t help at all!” he moaned.
“Oh yes it did.”
He rolled over to look at me, “It did?”
“Yes.” I began writing what we learned in the Log as I spoke, “It means that the Lego castle was cleaned up BEFORE Kenneth came over.”
“So we know it couldn’t have wandered outside, and that Kenneth didn’t see it, so he didn’t want to steal it,” Liam offered.
I nodded my head slowly, “uh, yeah. That, or it means that either Daddy or you or River cleaned it up.”
We were quiet for a moment as I finished writing.
Liam suddenly jumped up, “Return to the scene of the crime!” he exclaimed.
“Do it!” I said.
We ran happily through the family room and up the stairs, into the living room. Liam circled the room before coming to a stop in front of the couch under the window.
“Give me the log,” he said.
I did and he began drawing a sketch.
When he finished, he handed it back to me saying, “Here is what my lego’s looked like last time I saw them.” He had drawn a tall house, with an arrow pointing up along the side with the measurement “400 Legos” written next to it. “This,” he said, pointing to the arrow, “Means that it was 400 Legos tall.” Then he had drawn the inside of the house, with its two staircases and benches, and the lightning rod on the top. After I had perused the drawing, he took the log back, flipped the page, and began sketching again.
This time it was the room as he remembered it when he came home from school. He drew the couch and everything else in relation to it: River’s table, the mini DVD player, and the Legos. He even drew an arrow to show what direction he traveled after he came in.
(From the Log:
Scene of the crime: Living room.
Witness: Liam said he saw the castle on River’s little grey plastic table, which was in front of the couch. River was watching a movie, and the DVD player was on the couch. “I was surprised when I came in. Then I was mad. Then I came over in this direction. )
“Okay, honey.” I said as I prepared myself to write his answer, “What time did you get home?”
“Uh . . .” I remembered he couldn’t tell time.
“Was it a short day or regular day?”
He thought. “Regular.”
“Did daddy take you to the store first, or did you come straight home?”
“Straight home.”
I seemed to remember asking Caleb to pick up some potatoes and milk from the store, “You sure?” I asked.
“Yes!” he said, with that little burst of child attitude.
“Okay! So. That means you got home around 3:30 in the afternoon.”
“That sounds about right,” he conceded.
“I didn’t start dinner until 4 pm. So, there are 30 minutes where you and River didn’t have to clean up . . . did you play with her?”
He was pacing the floor again, deep in thought. “Yes. I remember that I was mad, but then wanted to help her build a tower. She was playing with her little dolls.”
“What?!” I asked, excited by his “aha” tone.
“River stopped playing because she was intent on Enchanted. She was only watching that. Then I got intent too.”
“Intent?” Who was this boy and how did he learn these fantastic words and know how to use them in every day conversation?! I tried to keep my pride and surprise to myself, so as to not make him feel self-conscious.
“So at 4:30 when Daddy and I asked you to clean up, who cleaned up the Legos?”
His face fell and he stopped pacing. “I don’t remember.” His sadness pulled at my heart. We had hit a mental dead end.
New tactic.
“Let’s search the area for clues!”
“Okay,” he said. He flopped on the ground and began looking under the couch.
Ten minutes passed as we quietly searched the living room for clues. Nothing relating to the case was found. I could see Liam was becoming discouraged and distracted, and frustrated that he was getting distracted.
“Okay!” I exclaimed, jumping up from my spot on the floor by the recliner, “I have a plan.”
His eyes lit up again, “What? WHAT?!” He was good at building his own excitement.
“Let’s begin a full scale search!”
He looked confused.
“Start in one corner of the house and systematically search every nook and cranny until we find either a clue or the Lego’s themselves!”
“What’s stestematicalily?”
“Oh, uh . . .” I searched for a way to describe my big girl word, “It means in order. Like in a system. System-attic-ly.”
“Oh.” He nodded and I could see he completely understood. “Let’s go!”
We picked up the Log and the box of stuff we had found in the living room – though it had nothing to do with the Legos – and walked to the hallway between my room and my daughters.
“Which room should we start with first?” I asked.
“River’s,” he said authoritatively, “because it is farthest south.” I loved his reasoning.
“Alright!” I placed the log and the box on my bed and we entered River’s room.
Liam picked up the Log, “Wait!” he said. I froze in place for comedic affect.
“I have to draw it first, so we remember what it looked like.”
That was an ominous suggestion, and I wondered how he thought it would look when we were done.
He spent a few moments sketching the room. There was a vanity with no mirror on the south wall, and next to it was a wire bench, and in the west corner sat an ABC toy chest/bench where all her toys were kept. He drew her daybed on the west wall, and the cedar chest next to her bedside table on the north wall. “Okay.” He declared when he was done. “Start searching!”
He walked over to the ABC bench, “This is the most south corner of the whole house. We start here.”
“Done!” I said
He opened the toy chest and rifled inside. I leaned over the chest to look behind, as it was set at an angle and there was a nice triangle of space between it and the corner. There was a pink pool noodle standing on it’s end, a 3ft stuffed Dora doll, a baby blankie and . . . I started laughing.
“What?” Liam demanded, “What is it?!”
From behind the chest, I lifted out the Castle of Legos.
Liam began jumping up and down, and only stopped long enough to grab it out of my hands. “WE FOUND IT!!! We SOLVED the Mystery!!!”
I added my laughter to his excitement and we jumped around together for a moment or two. It wasn’t important how it got there – whether it was put there by Mom because she didn’t want it taken apart and who then completely forgot about it or not– most importantly, it was found! After a while, Liam stopped celebrating and looked at the building lovingly.
“Yes dear?”
“Good detective work.”
I smiled. “You too, son.”
“Let’s go take this thing apart.”
And so ended the mystery of the missing Legos.
November 14, 2009


Canyonsrcool said...

Wow~ Now that was awesome. Enjoyed the experience!

Lori said...

LOVE IT. Doesn't motherhood ROCK?

DreamPacker said...

Amazingly entertaining story. Such great writing! Looks like Reality Show stuff...or the Winning Essay for Parenting Is Fun magazine.

Fedaykin said...

Wish I was a mom.

little t said...

What a wonderful writer!
What a thoguthful detective!
What an amazing mother!
You make it all look so fun & easy!

CowboyBob said...

What a way to show imagination can avert tragedy. So well written!

tiggermama said...

Thanks for the great entertainment! You really are an Amazing Writer and Mother! Kudos to you! I Love and miss you! :-)

Bethany said...

What a smarty pants boy you have! We love Liam and miss all of you. So fun.