Dave is cruising to McDonald's with John in tow. John reaches into his pocket and pulls out ... a shock collar.
Yes, a shock collar. The kind a large dog wears. The kind that is connected to an invisible fence or a remote control held by owners hoping to keep their pet from becoming road kill. The kind that comes with a hefty price tag.
And we haven't a clue where it came from. So begins the interrogation. We have to move carefully with John. He clams up fast and no amount of cajoling or bribing or threatening will wring the truth out of him. We haven't resorted to water-boarding in the kitchen or a phenobarbital drip, but, then, he's not a teenager yet, is he?
Dave realizes the interrogation is going nowhere fast and finally says -- very gently -- "John, did the dog take off the collar and hand it to you?"
John's eyes instantly brighten. He gives an enthusiastic nod and says, "Yes! Yes, he did!"
That's the ticket!
How do you restrain the laughter? He's lying, darn it! Stifle it, Kelly!
But I can't. Because this is John.
Last summer I walked into my sister's bathroom to find a suspicious wet trail going straight across the shower curtain. Gosh, I could write a novel about showers curtains and boys, except that it would be pure non-fiction or possibly a photographic essay with a scratch and sniff fold out.
But I digress . . .
Attempting to assume the best, I asked my sister if her dog had occasional accidents. When she said No, Jasper is fully housebroken, I moved to the next usual suspect -- our wonderful, brown-eyed bundle of vim and verve -- John.
"John, did you pee on the shower curtain," I calmly queried.
"No," he said in a solemn tone, "I peed on Jasper."
Yes, he peed on Jasper, the dog who likes to snooze next to the shower curtain. His aim being, well, not particularly precise, both Jasper and the shower curtain got the shower.
And I nearly split a gut laughing. Thankfully so did my sister. I tried to restrain mysef, really I did, but I just couldn't manage it.
So back to the shock collar . . . We gently get him to cough up the real story: He took the collar off the dog who was probably black but might possibly have been silver and it all happened yesterday or maybe not.
Helpful details, one and all.
A string of phone calls to various dog owning neighbors eventually leads us to our friends up the street who are so very grateful to get their rather pricey collar back.
Meanwhile John comes home from school and informs me that his teacher was out today. "Miss Rebecca can break into a movie theater," John informs me. "She's really tough. Also she can sleep with the lights on."
You gotta be tough to handle a roomful of four-year-olds.
She's a good teacher, too. John seems to be picking up the alphabet nicely. "G is for grappling hook," he informs me. I swear, when I was a kid, G was for grape or girl or some other object much less thrilling than a grappling hook.
Tonight as I'm making dinner I hear Ainsley shrieking and spy John in the vicinity. He reminds me of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes: I know nothing! I know nothing! A little prodding produces a confession.
"I gave her a hurt hug," he finally tells me.
A hurt hug. Hmmmm. Yes, she's feeling the love all right.
And we are feeling the levity, the brightness, the occasional drama, and the endless parade of surprises that come our way thanks to this one-of-a-kind little boy who has graced our family with his presence.