The Ladder: Part Deux

After E climbed to the top of the ladder but did not actually get onto the roof, it looked like he had lost interest in this latest obsession. A week passed. We asked him every day when he got home from school if he wanted to help with the cleaning of the gutters and he always said no. Then, today when we told him that we needed his help in holding the 16 foot ladder while my husband, Martin, climbed onto the roof, E said he wanted to go, too.

It took the 3 of us to maneuver the ladder upright against the side of our house. Martin climbed up the ladder and had to perform a strange contortionist movement to actually get onto the roof. I have to admit, it did look a bit scary. Then, E climbed the ladder but when he got to the point where he needed to swing his leg around to get onto the roof, he froze. I was standing down at the bottom, holding the ladder. It was mid-day and the sun was beating down on the back of my head and neck. I was hot. I don't like to be hot. After what seemed like an eternity, E decided we needed to move the ladder sideways to the right a couple of feet because he felt more comfortable swinging his left leg rather than his right. It was currently very close to the chimney, so he could only use his right leg. E came down the ladder. With Martin holding it at the top, E and I managed to move it a few feet to the right. E climbed back up and this time with some cajoling from Martin, E swung his left leg over the gutter, Martin grabbed his hand and helped him onto the roof. So far, so good.

I am sure many of you other parents are thinking "why the hell would you let this volatile kid up on the roof?" My answer to you is "in some ways he is very responsible and he was REALLY looking forward to it. It would help him conquer his fear of heights. More importantly, I would have ended up with some more serious damage in my house if I didn't".

I passed them a large piece of rope and a big metal pot which Martin filled with thick, black gooey stuff mixed with some rocks. He ended up using his bare hands to scoop out the muck. Yuck! Then, with the rope tied to the pot, E successfully lowered it onto the shed where I was able to grab it and set it down on the ground without wearing it. The top of one of the downspouts was completely blocked which accounted for the cascade of water over the side of the gutter every time we have heavy rain. The 2 of them walked all over the roof, checking it out for debris and holes. It needed sweeping, but looked sound. At this point, Martin was ready to come down and get cleaned up.

Of course, E didn't want to come down. Why should I be surprised by this development? He actually wanted me to send up a plastic bag for his cellphone in the event it rained so that his phone would stay dry. His exact words were "I just want to stay up here, chilling, until it started to rain". This meant, as a responsible parent, I needed to stay outside and "babysit him", making sure he didn't fall off the roof. I don't know why I hadn't anticipated this outcome, but I hadn't. I was extremely unhappy; that is an understatement as I began ranting and raving for the 4th time this week. I tried pleading with E to come down and then HE STARTED TO HAVE A TANTRUM UP ON THE ROOF. Martin was still up there with him. After E was safely on terra firma, Martin said he was really worried about what might have happened. Martin decided to come down and leave E up there by himself. I held the ladder for Martin while he got down.

I emptied the sludge in the compost bin, refusing to make eye contact with E. Not giving him my attention is something that E hates more than anything and I can usually get him to comply if I do that. He said hi, I said nothing. Then, I pulled up a lawn chair, sat down and waited for something to happen.

Mother Nature seemed to take pity on me because within 10 minutes it started to rain. E agreed to come down and asked both of us to hold the ladder. I was facing Martin and I rolled my eyes at him; something I seem to do these days on a regular basis. The 3 of us wrestled it down to the ground; do you have any idea how heavy a 16 foot wooden ladder is? Trust me, it is very heavy. We leaned it against our shed. I told Martin there is no way in hell that kid is ever going onto the roof, again.

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