« Never The Hero | Main | Call Me “Mister” »

Monday, 09 December 2013

Big Brother is Watching You

By Nancy Leitz

Chris was always a pretty good big brother when he and his brothers and sister were little. When Chris was five years old, Steve was 3-1/2, Carol was 2 and Jerry was a newborn baby.

It was just about this time that I figured out what was causing all these kids and changed my MO, as the cops would say.

The kids really were a handful and Chris came in handy to help me because he was smart and better yet, he was willing. He would run and get diapers or bottles or whatever was needed and I appreciated his help.

He was also very inventive and saved the day a number of times. One morning I was very sick with a severe cold and asked Chris to take Steve and Carol down and help them with breakfast.

I listened from upstairs and did not hear any crying or shouting and, wondering how they were making out, I crept down the stairs and looked into the kitchen and they were all sitting at the table, happy as can be, with a bowl of Cheerios in front of them.

They were eating the cereal and enjoying it. When I looked in their bowls I saw that Chris had made the Cheerios with water!

I asked him why he didn't use the milk and he said he couldn't lift the gallon bottle so he thought it was best to skip the milk and use water. Nobody noticed!

Another time I thought we would have a lot of grumbling and unhappiness because our television was on the blink and we were waiting for the repair man.

Undaunted, Chris moved their little chairs to the basement laundry room and set them in a row in front of our Westinghouse dryer which had a round glass front door. Then he threw all the stuffed teddy bears and Raggedy Anne and Andy and about five other soft animals into the dryer and turned it on. The little kids were thrilled with the show.

That one stunt bought us peace and quiet until the man came and fixed the TV.

It was about this time that Roy was assigned to go to NASA headquarters at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. When we moved into a one-story ranch house down there, the first thing we did was determine how we would get out of the house in case of fire.

We mapped out an exit strategy and told the kids who were now 10, 8-1/2, 7 and 5, the best thing to do in case of emergency. We walked them through it once and were confident they would know what to do.

We lived in that house for about two years and Roy's contract with NASA was extended so we moved across town to a two-story house. Again, we thought about an emergency and how to be safe in a larger house so we went through our exit strategy which now included stairways.

We put the kids through their paces of opening bedroom doors and negotiating steps and getting safely out of the house. Again, we were pretty certain they would know how to handle the situation.

Fast forward two more years and we moved back to Pennsylvania into, this time, a split level house with three short sets of stairs to the three different levels in the house. This was a little trickier because the upstairs hall was narrower and there were more twists and turns in this place than any of the others.

We gave this a lot of thought and finally decided that in the case of a roaring fire and no escape through the hallway, it would be dangerous but better than death to jump from the bedroom window onto the lawn below.

It was about a six- or seven-foot jump. We told them they might break and arm or a leg but that they wouldn't die in the fire.

That settled, Roy and I went out for an hour or two on Sunday afternoon leaving Chris in charge. He was now 14 and still very willing and capable.

When we returned our new neighbor, whom we had never met, came to our door and said she was very sorry but she felt she just had to tell us what she had seen at our house while we were gone.

She came in and the kids were all ears about what she was going to say. What she told us was that every one of our kids had jumped out of the bedroom window.

We thanked her for informing us of what she had seen and she left. We questioned the kids and they all said that they had, indeed, jumped out of the window. But, Chris was furious. He was storming around in circles saying, "Yes, we jumped out the window and we weren't hurt. Now, nobody will ever be afraid to do it."

He was still sputtering and fuming and pacing around when he suddenly stopped in exasperation and shouted.

"I certainly hope I'm not going to have any trouble with that woman. Couldn't she see I was running a FIRE DRILL?"

A few years later we had a very serious fire that almost destroyed our house. Nobody was hurt!

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


That fire drill really came in handy,huh? How nice to have a big brother like that.

Thanks! Entertaining and wonderfully written.

What a nifty and well-written story! Especially the part about the Westinghouse TV show.
What a kid!

Your stories are always interesting and well written...Thanks Nancy!

ing and very well written

I really enjoyed the story, starting with the title which grabbed my attention. You and your younger children were so fortunate to have such a caring and thoughtful first child with an impish sense of humor to boot.

Great story, Nancy! What a trooper and inventive helper Chris was and I am sure still is for you today!

Another good story, Nancy!! Tell Chris I said Bravo!!

Nancy: Got thru customs without my Perry Ellis coat, but now am wearing it outside your house waiting to watch and see your children jumping from the windows. Jo

What a wonderful story! Does he have children now?

Like Florence I'd love to know what Chris does now - what a competent caring child he was!

I am late getting back to you to thank you for your nice comments. I was in New Milford, Connecticut for the weekend with son Jerry and his wife, Holly.

We had an storm that deposited about 2 " of ice over all of the roads and every inch of my car.It took me an hour just to clear it and then I could start to worry about the roads.

I couldn't stay because more dire weather is predicted for tomorrow and the rest of the week so it was plow my way home today or overstay my welcome and I didn't want to do that.

It is a 4 hour drive that
was harrowing at best.. I was happy to be home in Pennsylvania at last.

I found all of your nice comments and I want to thank you all for reading my story and saying such nice things about it and about Chris.

Johna: I thought I recognized that coat..I remember telling you once that you didn't need a passport to go through customs and Immigration because they knew that Perry Ellis..Funny you remembered that.

Florence:Thanks for your nice comment. Yes, Chris has one son named Francis who is married and who gets along famously with his dad.

Judy: I will tell Chris what you wrote. I'm sure he will be pleased.

GM: Yes, Chris is still a big help to me; both in things that need to be done here and he is also a good "Cheerer-upper.

Madeline: Glad you liked the story and the Title I selected for it. Since Chris was such a good big brother, it just seemed right to give the story that title.

Claire Jean: Thanks for being such a loyal reader and nice commenter. I appreciate you.

Janet; The Westinghouse Dryer
theatre ran for about 3 days before the TV guy came. The little kids never noticed that the cast of the TV show never changed.

Arlene: I'm happy you enjoyed the story. It was entertaining because Chris was always entertaining.

Jackie: Yes, that fire drill really did come in handy. I never worried again about the kids being afraid to jump out the window.

Wonderful story and comments! Chris sounds like a Boy Scout! Always prepared. Good thing no one broke any bones jumping out the window like that. Thanks for writing.

Wonderful story with a good moral and excellent writing.

I'm wondering what Chris does now with that inventive and active mind. Is he an engineer? Teacher? At any rate, he didn't just grow up to be like that without any help or guidance. He is a powerful testament to fine parenting, both by word and example.

Chris is now a Chemist with a huge Chemical Company.

He specializes in Water Treatment and travels all over the World. As an aside,Nance, he was recently in Perm, Russia and asked his contemporary there how things were going now that Communism was over. The fellow said,"It's better now. We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."

Last year Chris got a call from Royal Caribbean because they were concerned about the quality of the water they were dumping at sea. He flew to Miami and sailed on the Oasis of The Seas as a crew member and had the time of his life.

He enjoyed being "Below Deck" because he had sailed on the ship the year before as a guest and this was a terrific experience for him to get to know what it was like to be in the Crew.

Now that I think of it, perhaps it was making the Cheerios with water that started him on this lifelong career.

Hi Beth: Chris was never in the Boy Scouts. He was always too busy working.

He came in from school one day and jumped in the shower, put on his best suit,shirt and tie and started out the door. I said, "Wait, Chris, where are you going?" He told me that on the way home the school bus passed a peach orchard and they had a sign out for pickers and he was going to interview for the job.

He came home about an hour later and told me that the lady at the orchard said that she would love to hire him but he had to come back when he was older than 10.

I'm late as usual, Nancy, but I just have to comment. Your stories always brighten my day and this one was no exception. Don't we all wish we had enjoyed a big brother like Chris. I think he is a lot like his Mom. The apple didn't fall far from that tree and I know Roy was also responsible for raising such lovely children.

You changed your MO? Hmmmm.

Thank you, Darlene. Yes, I changed my MO when the kids just kept coming along, year after year.

Remember on the Beverly Hillbillies, when Jethro heard "Ding Dong", there was ALWAYS somebody at the door and he couldn't figure that out.

That's the way I was until I figured out what was causing those kids and changed my MO.

The comments to this entry are closed.