Reason No. 42 why some animals eat their young

Or, why I have three more gray hairs and another few hours chopped off my life. You're gonna see the end of this one coming.

As the work day wound to a close, Jim texted me that The Amazing Claire was off work today. Since she is his carpool ride, he needed the car to get home at 2 a.m. This meant a side trip to the university on my way home, so Jim would take his dinner break and ride home with me, drop me off and take the car back to the university.

I texted the Spawn and told him I'd be picking him up at Founders Hall tonight instead of the Vadalabene Center where I usually retrieve him. Uh, last night. Because by the time you read this it'll be tomorrow. Post-dated blogs play merry havoc on the old verb tenses.

Spawn replied that he had a ride home, so not to worry about him. I said that was fine, but try not to be out too late.

I retrieved Jim, who was bearing two leftover pizzas to throw at Spawn because we can never have too much food to throw at the Spawn and stave him off the scraps we get to eat. It's amazing that we're the ones on a diet.

We drove home, talking about our day, about my new work schedule, about what we plan to do this weekend. We arrived home and there were the trash barrels at the foot of the driveway. Of course, the trash men came Tuesday morning, but trash is the Spawn's job and apparently the barrels would sit there until doomsday if I don't stomp my foot and yell.

Jim helped me bring in the pizzas and my bag, and we kept talking about randomness, about plans for the weekend, about the smell of dinner percolating in the crock pot, about the progress of the repair work on the giant hole in the wall.*

Keep in mind, we were trying to cram a whole day of contact into 10 minutes because this is the only time we would have together today. He was just stirring as The Thing and I left this morning for school and work, and I hope to be long asleep by the time he gets home tonight.

As usual, the house was dark because somebody (JIM) never remembers to leave on a light, and it was still reasonably picked up (while not what I'd call clean) because it's midweek and we're never home.

But he had to head back to work, so I walked with him back onto the porch, leaving the front door of the house wide open - like almost 180 degrees open. I was standing at the porch door, waving him goodbye and turning on the porch light.

Behind me is a loud BANG. The front door slammed shut behind me.

I jumped about two feet in the air. Now, keep in mind: the door was WIDE open. My first thought was that the kitchen door must have been left open by the handyman working on the Wall Project, creating a serious draft that slammed the door.

Then I realized that was impossible. This wonderful, funky old house sometimes has the most entertaining drafts and has been known to open and slam my office door and the bedroom door from time to time, usually scaring the bejesus out of me when I'm in bed or when I was working alone up in my office.

But the front door is super heavy. It's a modern door, possibly even from the 21st century, and while the rest of our centenarian house might sway with the breeze, that door doesn't move much. Not that hard, or loud.

And I dismissed Isabel as a cause. She's more subtle. She hides my frigging keys, she makes footstep-sounds upstairs in the office while I'm trying to sleep, she breaks things when we're not looking or when there's upheaval and she gets cranky. She has been known to slam doors - or is it those drafts? - but not that hard, not that loud.

Which leaves ... someone's in the house.

Jim had not left yet, staring at me. "What?" I motioned him back silently as I went to the door, trying to remember where the baseball bat is and of course it's in the Thing's room and wasn't that a great plan and how the hell are we going to search and secure the house and -

There he was, hiding behind the Fakus Ficus in the foyer. My evil devilspawn of a son, who apparently had gotten his friend to drop him off only minutes before we got home, walked past the trash barrels without putting them away, entered the house without dumping his stuff in the living room as usual and without turning on any lights.

And who apparently had been hiding silently in his room for ten minutes while we talked and put away stuff, then snuck into the foyer when I went outside with Jim and slammed the door because it would be funny.

I might have directed a few words at him that a younger me would never have said in the presence of my child.

"I figured you'd think it was the ghost!" he said, grinning.

"No, I thought there was someone in the house, you little [censored]!" I replied.

"You guys have no sense of humor," he said. And yet he lives.

Jim then fled this house of madness for the relative sanity of work, and I went to assess how many gray hairs he added to me. I knew I should have spanked him when he was young.

* Lord, I still haven't posted about the Hole in the Wall...