My wife and I had an evening event to attend recently. Our daughter was going out with friends, leaving our son at home alone.
He’s 12, so he’s plenty capable of being at home alone till 8ish. We set down the ground rules: Stay at home. Don’t answer the door. Call the neighbors if you need them. And please don’t text us 435 times asking “When are you coming home?”
I will give him credit: He didn’t call until about 8, as we were on our way home. I could not hear his end of the conversation, but the way my wife was trying to hold back laughter assured me that he was not in peril. At least, not what parents would consider peril.
My wife hung up the phone and burst out laughing. “Is he OK?” I asked.
“He…” she could barely get her words out between laughter. “He’s…” More laughter. “He’s stuck in the basketball goal.”
Now lest you think he was dangling 10 feet above the driveway, I knew precisely the goal she was referring to. We have one of those indoor multi-sport thingees, which includes a small basketball goal, and he had brought the goal and backboard into the den for a little shootaround while we were gone, which was parent approved.
What we had not approved was his ingenious decision to see if it fit over his head and arms, which it did. What it didn’t do, he learned, was come off easily.
When we walked in the door, there was Parker, a look of complete shame on his face, the hoop around his torso, the backboard snug against his back.
“What time did this happen?”
“About 6:45.” Props to him for waiting as long as he did to call.
I did the most sensible thing a parent could do, which was to reach for my phone to take a picture, which was met with a less than enthusiastic response. “Really?” my wife said. She says that a lot to me.
I agreed to hold off on the photo shoot, and we commenced to Operation Hoop Removal. I am not sure how he ever got the thing on him, but it was not coming off any time soon.
I told him there was really only one solution: Time to get the saw.
“Really?” was the response from my wife and son, although the two had vastly different tones.
I examined the hoop a bit closer and realized there were some screws we could take out, freeing the backboard. Then, we would be able to reach a small clip that would open the hoop, setting him free. The entire extraction would have taken less than a minute, but I had to stop and compose myself from the absurdity of the situation every few seconds.
After freeing him from the hoop, I reassembled the unit. My wife asked him how in the world he got in the hoop in the first place. He proceeded to grab the hoop to demonstrate for us. “NOOOOO!!!!” we said in unison. I sometimes worry about him.
When his sister got home a short while later, she asked how everyone’s evening was. “I got stuck in a basketball goal,” my son said. My daughter just nodded. It says something that she was not surprised by this.
I suppose I should be grateful that the most damaging thing my son did when home alone is find himself wedged snugly in a plastic basketball hoop. That said, I think we may need to be a little more specific on the rules the next time we go out. Really specific. Really.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.