Clair McFarland: Hell Hath No Fury Like Mom’s Flying Toilet Paper

Clair McFarland writes: There are toilet paper rolls in weird places throughout the house. I wish I had known all along wish someone would have told me that it was my job to make the ruckus.

Clair McFarland

February 10, 20236 min read

Clair headshot 12 31 22

Sometimes you have to make your own ruckus.   

Those four boys bring the rage, rolling home from school like an Irish street gang ready to club someone with their lunchboxes. They argue the whole way.   

“Hey,” says Firstborn, elbowing Middleborn in the ribs. “If scientists made a clone of you that was a girl, would you date her?”   

Middleborn wrinkles his nose. “What! That’s disGUSTing.”   

“Heyyyy,” Firstborn frowns. “I totally would date my girl clone.”   

“That’s ’cuz no one else WOULD,” snaps Middleborn.   

Firstborn considers this. He wonders whether his girl clone would slam the toilet lid like a war cannon and eat all the beef jerky when no one’s watching.   

“Well, no one would even LOOK at your clone,” says Firstborn.   

Middleborn, outraged, hammers his peachy little fist down toward Firstborn’s thigh, but Firstborn knocks it away with a ninja chop to the wrist.   

“Aaaowwww!” shrieks Middleborn, as if he’s never experienced pain in his 10 scrappy years. “Mo-om! He hit meee.”   

“He tried to punch me!” shouts Firstborn.   

Middleborn inhales. “I didn’t try to punch you, I tried to POUND you.”   

My foot grinds into the gas pedal. Crusty white trees whip by. I’ve got to get home. Unload the kids. Order a plane ticket to Italy.   

Things aren’t any better at home. Firstborn teaches a combat class and kicks all his students. The cat hides in terror. Middleborn escapes by riding a skateboard through someone’s Lego city. The only thing that could cause more mayhem at a country home is a dragon – but all the dragons are too scared to face us.   

I hunch over a sink full of greasy dishes, muttering into the suds. What I can’t figure, I tell the suds, is how the boys have the energy to act like this. Surely their days are as full as mine? Why wouldn’t they want to come home and relax, maybe hear others’ thoughts?   

“Y’all should go outside and sled,” I offer.   

“We – can’t,” Firstborn grunts. He’s clenching the big, sweet twin’s head in a hold under his right armpit. “We’re – sparring.”   

“Hi, Mom,” beams Big-Sweet from the armpit.   

“Oh, honey!” I gasp. “Your face is turning red.”  

“It’s OK,” says Big-Sweet. “If I can still talk it means I’m not suffocating.”   

I slap my forehead.   

Little does Firstborn know, a skinny ninja approaches from behind, bearing a plastic sword in one hand and a pillow in the other.   

“Hiiiyyya!” bellows Little-Feisty, stabbing Firstborn’s soft exposed knee pit. 

Firstborn lets Big-Sweet out of the hold and swivels to face Little-Feisty with both fists in the air.   

But Little-Feisty is too smart for that nonsense. He ducks, lurches forward and headbutts Firstborn in the gut, knocking him to the ground. Then he runs outside screaming, “Hallelujah, the beast is DOWN.”   

It’s madness. There’s no way for me to fight it.   

That’s when it hit me.   

A Nerf dart, that is. A Nerf dart hit me in the flank. But that was also when I had a strange epiphany: The more time I spend fighting the ruckus, the more stressed I become. 

What would happen if I … MADE the ruckus?   

I march into the bathroom and plunge my fingers through the taut cellophane of a toilet paper package, ripping a fresh roll out. Then another. And another.   

I run to the living room with six toilet paper rolls cradled in one arm and another in my throwing hand. I rear back and hurl the roll, whacking Middleborn in the same muscle where he shot me with the Nerf dart moments earlier.   

Middleborn gives a look like he’s been abandoned and betrayed; the face of an orphan, dumpster-diving in the London rain. 

“But, Mom,” he whimpers, unsure if I’m the same indentured servant who cooks his dinners. “Is this real?”   

I grab another toilet paper roll and fling it at his chest. Then I run off, cackling, and pelt Firstborn in the belly and arms. He thinks he can block me, but no mere human can stop my tissue torrent once it takes flight.   

Just as I turn around to get more toilet paper, a dry linty roll smacks my open mouth and cakes my ape grin with parched cotton.   

“Hah-HARR” roars Little-Feisty. He’s dragging the whole, bulk Angel Soft discount package by its tattered cellophane coattails, pounding my wood floors with his war-drum feet as he scurries away.   

I try to chase him, but Big-Sweet hurtles out of nowhere and tackles me like a 9-year-old freight train, crashing me onto the same dashed Lego enterprise Middleborn Godzilla’d earlier with his skateboard.   

“You do not chase my baby!” yells Big-Sweet.   

He still calls his identical twin “my baby.” I could get up from the tackle if I weren’t melting.   

But I fight back in my own way by tickling that boy’s ribs and the muscular arches of his feet. Laughter bubbles out of him. He loosens his grip on me and I jump back to standing, race to the bathroom and grab every toilet paper roll I can find.   

It’s all over about an hour later.   

There are toilet paper rolls in weird places throughout the house. I’m on the living room rug with a hot tea mug just out of reach and no will to grab it – because Big-Sweet is pressing his sweaty head onto my clavicle. And Little-Feisty rests his face on my navel while looking, tenderly, up my nose.   

Firstborn reads aloud to Middleborn from a joke book that only makes sense to young boys, and they’re both snorting and clutching their ribs.   

I wish I had known all along – wish someone would have told me – that it was my job to make the ruckus.   

Share this article



Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter