They Don’t Check Out


“Cade stop hitting your tablet,” I shouted.

“It’s not nice to hit Atticus Finch,” he laughed.

With his latest phase Cade pulls up images on electronic devices and smacks them.  When he is feeling well he thinks its funny.  However, it’s quite different when he’s hurting.  If a migraine strikes it’s not unusual for him to find an image online and hit it hard enough to shatter the glass. As a result, I have gotten to know the electronic repairman quite well.  “It’s just a phase,” I tell myself.  Like his many other phases I anxiously await this one ending.  It’s been rather expensive.

His phases have all been challenging.   Sometime they made me smile but mostly they just made me crazy.   There was once a time when everything started with the letter “E.”  He knew the correct spelling.  However, he insisted on saying it started with “E.”

“Cade, tell the lady what you would like for dinner,” I instructed him.

“Hamburger please.”  He placed his order.

“Would you like fries?”

“Fries starts with E.”

“No,” the server continued.  “Fries starts with F.”

Cade proceded through the entire menu of items that start with “E.”  Needless to say it was the entire menu.  The server played along and corrected him each time.  Cade was actually quite a good speller.  This was just a strange way of interacting that he enjoyed.

January 1 marks the start of a new year.  With us it marks the start of a new weird.  Who knows what the next phase will bring?  Will there be biting DVD’s while stating “You can’t eat DVD’s.  They are not food.”?  Most of our DVD collection has been trashed but fortunately there are now streaming services available.  Will there be a return to the chocolate era?  During this time the word “chocolate” came out everytime he was excited.  If I threw him a ball he would shout, “Get the chocolate ball!”  There was nothing chocolate about the ball.  Not the color.  Not even the taste.  I licked but nothing other than plastic crossed my palate.

It was a usual summer day in New Orleans.  In other words it was hot and muggy.  I watched the hanging moss shifting in the wind as I pondered what to do.  “How about the wave pool?”  I thought to myself.  Although I have never visited, there was one near the office where I worked.  Soon after we were en route to the wave pool.  Perspiration drenched our garments as we entered the gate.  There was a large crowd on such a steamy day.  The only caucasians present were us.  We were slathered in sunblock and experiencing one of Cade’s eclipses.  An eclipse is what we call the moments when one phase overlaps the other.  The chocolate phase was now crossing over the naked phase.  Ridding himself of his clothing he immmediately streaked across the deck.  “Go in the chocolate pool!  Go in the chocolate pool!”  Although awkward at first, we were soon splashing and laughing with everyone else.

Looking at the cracked glass on my phone I wonder what the next chapter holds.  Will there be more toys flushed down the toilet?  I am so sorry Freddie and Mary for flooding your home.  Will there be more questioning everyone regarding the appliance brands they own?

“What kind of stove do you have?”

“What kind of dishwasher do you have?”

“What kind of refrigerator do you have?”

“What kind of toaster do you have?”

“What kind of cutter plugger do you have?”

By the way, a cutter plugger is what he calls an electric can opener.  Then of course there’s the epic period when everything went in his ears.  We discovered this after noticing a foul odor.  Cade pulled on his ear lobes and screamed.  With what seemed like an infection we took him to the family doctor.  He was prescribed antibiotics as well as other medication for inflammation.  It wasn’t long before we were back in the doctor’s office.  One morning I noticed Cade biting his finger nail and placing the removed tip into his ear.

Could these nail pieces be getting lodged deep in his ear causing pain and infection?   With his otoscope in hand the doctor carefully searched.

“I don’t see anything,” he announced.

He looked a second time slowly tugging at Cade’s ear.  “Wait a minute.”

“Do you see a fingernail?”  I asked.

“No it looks like a little plastic ball or pellet.  But its really close to the ear drum.”  He referred us to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.  The ENT noticed the plastic ball as well as another tiny rock.  He attempted to remove the objects but Cade would not keep his head still.  With the items close to his ear drum and driving him nuts we had no choice but to schedule an outpatient procedure.

Cade was sedated and the doctor performed the task at hand.  My wife and I anxiously sat in the waiting room of the local hospital.  I heard the ticking of the clock and watched for what seemed like an eternity.  Ten minutes after starting the procedure the doctor was finished.  He approached and informed us that the items had been removed.  He also informed us that in all his years of practicing he had never seen such an assortment in one ear.  The doctor handed me a small bottle.  In it was a small plastic pellet, six small rocks, four fingernails, a half inch piece of plastic from one of my wife’s hair clips and a crayon tip.

With his ears free of all debris Cade was calm and relieved.  However, it wasn’t long before we were back at the hospital removing the new treasures hiding deep in his auditory canals.  After this second outpatient procedure we decided to purchase our own scope.  We checked his ears several times per day.  If we noticed something new we were usually able to flush the item with water.  This cycle went on for quite some time.  He placed items in his ears and panicked when he couldn’t remove them.  On occasion, we still had to visit the ear doctor to remove some items.  However, Cade was no longer the little boy that wouldn’t hold his head still.  He knew exactly what to expect and sat giggling while the doctor did his job.

Cade enjoys visiting my sister during his summer break.  He calls her Nanna.  We packed his bags with his usual belongings as well as our otoscope and syringe for flushing.  Nanna is very attentive to Cade.  One day she noticed Cade tugging at his ear while playing outside.  With the scope in her hand she searched.  “What’s that?”  She thought as she continued observing.

“Cade,” she asked.  “Did you put something in your ear?”  Before he answered she noticed the legs moving.

“A bug!” he proudly exclaimed.

Moments later at the doctors office the bug was killed with a few drops of mineral oil.  The doctor removed the bug and informed Nanna that bugs don’t typically back up.  I envisioned Cade’s ear pictured on an old Roach Motel box.  “Roaches check in, but they don’t check out!”

Kelly Jude Melerine