Raising Houdini

Duct TapeMy son is going on a class trip to Washington, D.C., and I am worried.

My own eighth grade trip to Washington was unforgettable.  Nightly, boys snuck into girls’ rooms, and kids, giddy with freedom, stole into the streets of D.C. in search of excitement and Doritos.

I want my son to have fun, but not that much fun.

Trying to reassure me, my son’s teacher said they tape the outside of the kids’ hotel rooms.  The kids don’t leave because they know they can’t re-tape the outside of the door after they reenter.

I wouldn’t bet the farm on this technique if I were them, if only because I raised a boy we called “Houdini”.

No babyproofing was a match for him.  Before he could crawl, I left him in a gated room with only a couch.  When I returned, he was playing with shards of glass from a picture that had hung on the wall a minute before.  As a toddler, he’d jimmy the baby gate and disappear.  I cut down on blinking so I wouldn’t lose him so much.

Houdini became a boy who appreciates tape like no one else, and uses it for more purposes than Mr. Scotch ever imagined.  An equal opportunity taper, he tapes everything whether it needs it or not.  He’s erected tents using sheets and electrical tape, and our dictionary is hermetically sealed.  In his spare time, he creates duct tape sculptures that are reminiscent of household objects that have gone missing.

I live in fear of a Goo Gone shortage.

Ingeniously, my son melded his love of tape with his disappearing act.  My husband had bought handcuffs on his own class trip to Washington that didn’t see much use (that I know of) until he told our son about them.  Later, I found the kid handcuffed, a long strip of duct tape over his mouth.  I left him like that to think about what he’d done, but minutes later, Houdini was out, an impish grin on his chafed lips.

So I’d really like my son to go on the class trip, if only so I can have three days in my life where I can find more than just the cardboard interior of a used up roll of packing tape when I’m going to UPS.  But I’m just not convinced the door taping technique will be the panacea the teachers think.  In case I’m right, I’ve contacted 3M to find out what kind of scholarship they would award a kid who can exit and re-enter a room, leaving the tape on the door intact.

That is, if the teachers have any tape left by the time they get to Washington.