I actually think it was a series of unfortunate events and not one big thing. In any event, as a result of his malfeasance he was told that he would not be allowed to go to Fright Night, which is a local Halloween Haunted House type event.
I was sitting in the basement, attempting to work, when he came in all covered in teenage pout. He flopped down on the couch that is catty-corner from my desk.
“Iwannagotofrightnightbutmomwontletmeanditsnotfair,” he said. T1 has a pretty vague understanding of what is and isn’t fair.
“Why should you be allowed to go?” I asked. “You know what you did. You’re being punished. If you had done what you were supposed to do, you wouldn’t be punished and you’d be allowed to go.”
“IsaidthatIwoulddoallofthestuffthatIwassupposedtodobutshestillwontletme,” he huffed.
“Well, of course not,” I said. “All you are doing is offering to actually do the stuff you were supposed to do in the first place. You already didn’t do it and got in trouble for it. You can’t just do now what you were supposed to do then and have everything be fine.”
“So?” he said. T2 snuck into the room and did the thing he does where he pretends to be part of the furniture. He sits quietly until the situation is ripe for him to say something in an attempt to get his brother into further trouble. T1 and I both ignored him. I then launched into an extended analogy.
“You need to do penance,” I said.
“What is that?” T1 said.
“Okay, in the Catholic Church there are sacraments. Those are important sacred rituals. There are seven of them. One of them is confession.”
“What is confession?” asked T2, his curiosity getting the better of his desire to cause chaos.
“Sometimes you do something bad. When you do, you go to a priest and do confession. That’s where you tell him whatever bad thing it is you did and god forgives you for it.”
“Anything?” asked T2.
“And you just tell it to the priest…” said T1. “What if you killed someone?”
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “I mean…it matters if you killed someone. Don’t kill anybody.”
Oh yeah…fake dad of the year.
“But no matter what you did,” I said, “ you tell the priest and the priest can’t tell anyone. “
“Nobody?” said T1.
“Nobody,” I said. “But there is more. It’s not enough that you confess whatever you did wrong. First, you have to legitimately be sorry and feel bad about doing it, or it doesn’t count. Second, you have to perform penance.”
“What’s that?” asked T2.
“It’s the thing you have to do above and beyond being sorry to make up for whatever you did,” I said. “So in T1’s ‘I killed a dude’ situation your penance might be to turn yourself in.”
“TO THE POLICE?!?!” said T2, clearly surprised. T2 is not down with self-incrimination.
“Yeah,” I said. “But obviously, hopefully, most people aren’t on killing sprees. Let’s say you lied about something. You have to come clean about the lie and then do something to make up for it.”
“Okay,” said T1. “So what?”
“In this situation, T1 is the person who has done something wrong and who has to not only be sorry for it, but go above and beyond to make up for it. I guess I am the priest and the basement is church.”
“Who is mom?” asked T2.
“Mom is god.” I said. Everyone nodded.
We made a list of stuff that T1 would do for the week that would allow him, if his penance was fulfilled, to re-enter Mom’s grace and get to go to Fright Night. C agreed to his terms and I was super pleased with myself and even more so with my analogy.
The next day T1 did the easiest thing on his list for him not to do and once again was in at best purgatory if not outright no-fright-night-hell.
T2, however, apparently had some sort of revelation.
He sat in the basement, listened to me explaining some aspect of how we can all get along without killing each other, took everything in, completely twisted it around and became a fanatic. I am 100% sure this is how every religion has started.
He insists that we have “church” every night. Church is the time when we all sit together and talk about whatever it is that we did wrong that day and how we are going to make up for it. It is, according to him, the only time when we are allowed to engage in “mean talking.” T2 doesn’t like arguments.
He found my label maker and has put stickers up all around the house that say things like “Church starts at 6:00” and “Follow all the rules.” Nobody wanted to spend time in the basement, so every night now at dinner we all have to go to confession. He is insistent. Stuff gets written down. I have to make judgments that C has to approve. Torquemada had nothing on our eight year old.
Apparently I am Jesus, T2 is Paul, and our basement is the road to Damascus.
C is still god.