A scene or state of wild uproar and confusion.

Originally, the word “bedlam” was simply the colloquial name for the Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem in London—perhaps the world’s most famous lunatic asylum.

Thus is my home.

I feel like I am an attendant in a lunatic asylum. A Victorian era asylum. There is something creepier about a Victorian asylum.

If you want to know what that is like, have two children. Sorry singles, one simply does not cut it. I would have thought, when I only had one child, that I new what bedlam was, but I didn’t. And I’m sure that if I had three, I would scoff at those, like myself, with a mere two inmates.

If I were a simple-minded fellow I might even say that that both inmates need to be boys. This comes from the many friends who have girls. They are, generally, very different.

Now, before I had kids, I would have thought that someone who said boys are intrinsically different from girls was a traditional, small-minded, buffooning troglodyte.  But I have to tell you, many of the stereotypically boy things that my kids do are beyond me and anything I have taught to/modeled for/dreamed of. We do not have guns. I don’t pretend to have a gun. We don’t watch family movies with guns. And yet my son began shooting things with his finger well before he began seriously interacting with other children. Also, if it moves, he wants to beat/kick/throw it.

We have friends who have a girl the same age as my son. We went over to their house for dinner and were terrified from the moment we entered. They had breakables —serious, crystal and porcelain breakables— at knee level. Well, he went right for them. He wanted to climb up their built-ins and touch everything he could. Our friends were a little stunned. Their daughter never thought to do anything like that. She’s a pleasant young lady.

I’m assuming that some of you may be taking umbrage with my assessment of toddler gender differences. I do have a friend who has a daughter that exhibits the same crazy death-wish tendencies as my sons do. She has a second daughter who does not. Her assessment is the same as mine. “My daughter acts like a boy.”

But back to crazy. I have one son, the youngest, who is so preternaturally happy that he makes me nervous. How can someone be that happy? Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s happy. I just can’t figure out what he has to be happy about. He’s living with a toddler-psychopath.

That’s my eldest son. I can’t figure him out. He’s my Randle McMurphy. Which I guess makes me Nurse Ratched. Which is not good.

He loses his mind over the craziest things. The cheese slid one-half inch down his slice of pizza today and it was the end of the world. I honestly don’t understand that. And I can’t reason with him. He’s only three. He hasn’t acquired that facility yet. But, God help me, I try. That’s my first impulse, to reason with him. And it does nothing.

Then there is the sudden screaming. The screeching at his brother for looking the wrong way or saying the wrong thing. The throwing and stomping and hitting and jumping. The sudden joy and even more sudden anger or frustration.

It leaves me in a cold sweat of bewilderment.

Maybe I’m the inmate.