It’s the age, of course. Six and a half, as J reminds us on a daily basis. It’s also the result of being gifted with a younger brother prone to all manner of high jinks, a brother who “is so irritating he’s driving me crazy!” as J laments when he “just can’t take it anymore!” It comes of mama asking, “Would you go see what Gabriel’s doing?” I mean, I ask for it really. I practically hand him the tattle card. Reporting back is not only implied, it’s implored. A special job.
But my intent (and parental duty) to keep G safe and out of irreparable destruction (i.e. black Sharpie to the couch pillows and cushions—happened—or dismantling his father’s handcrafted steamer trunk from Europe one rusty hinge at a time—happened) get the better of me when I’m trying to get dinner on the table. Besides, J needs the exercise, right?
That said, it gets out of hand some days. Soon J is reporting back with every minor infraction, many of which are not infractions at all: “Gabriel dumped out the toy box! Gabriel is making a terrible mess! Gabriel is in the laundry room! Gabriel is touching Lucy! Gabriel is in his closet!” So when he asked for my phone to take a few pictures, I gladly assented, as long as there was No More Tattling Unless G Is in Danger of Hurting Himself.
Hence the Tattletale 2.0. J borrows my phone and snaps away, documenting every transgression. Whether or not it’s actually a transgression makes little difference. The awe, the satisfaction he finds in ratting out his little brother (J, the boy for whom rules are supreme) is palpable. You hear it in his voice when he reports back on what he deems to be a particularly astonishing “offense.”
The following series illustrates one such event. O horror! G got into the Spiderman puzzle! Not only did he dump the pieces, he took his garbage truck in his bed and proceeded to fill it with the pieces! Then he dumped them out! We Jantz-Estes’ may not be the most emotionally stable of families, but damn it, we’re dramatic!
[Note: these were taken in a very dimly lit room. I brightened and sharpened them to the point of graininess so the images would be discernible, producing a very pleasing not-so-private private investigator effect.]
© Jonah Caedmon Estes
Jonah Caedmon Estes