The Shrunken Parentsby Shrinkingman
It was Sunday morning, and John and Maureen Rizza woke up in their hamster cage. Any moment, they knew their two sons would arrive and they could have breakfast. Alex, aged 12, stood a mindboggling 58 inches tall while ten-year old Nate was a towering 53 inches tall. But, at John and Maureen's new sizes, each inch was like a foot.
They heard a loud noise which turned out to be Nate entering the room. His face appeared before them, as if someone had just thrown a billboard up against the cage. He greeted his mom and dad and playfully stuck a finger inside and wiggled it as if to say, "come on..." They stood up but suddenly felt the floor beneath them shake violently. Nate was picking up the cage and bringing it into the kitchen. He set it next to the stove and got out a frying pan, some instant pancake mix, and a stick of butter. Nate prepared the pan with butter, and waited to turn each pancake over.
John went over to the bars of the cage and curled his tiny hands around the bars, and he gazed first at the pan, then up at his giant son. The fourth grader smiled down and said, "Wanna flip 'em over?", then laughed, knowing that his dad was far too tiny to be able to do that. Nate's mom soon joined her husband at the edge of the cage.
"Honey, we can't take this much longer...can't you change us back?," asked Maureen. Nate put his index finger in the cage and gently rubbed the top of his mother's head.
"Don't worry, Alex and I will take care of ya."
They suddenly heard Alex's voice. "You're not burnin' the pancakes again, are ya squirt?" The slightly larger Alex entered the room and playfully pushed his younger brother--a push that seemed gentle to Nate but would have killed John and Maureen. Everything was amplified to them now-- height, weight, strength...
Nate went into the freezer, took out some sausage, and tossed it into the pan. He rolled it around with the spatula and then turned over the pancakes as Alex got out two glasses and some milk.
Alex and Nate sat at the kitchen table, and their parents sat ON the table--cross-legged, next to Alex's plate. He cut a very small portion of pancake aside and his parents ate it with their hands. Next he put a teaspoon into his glass of milk and held it up to his parents' mouths; he tilted it just far enough--then abruptly too much spilled out, drenching John. Nate handed his dad a napkin, and he dried himself off as if it were a bath towel. Well, no use crying over...
Will we always be this small?, wondered Maureen. Just yesterday, she and John had been bigger and stronger than their kids but now the tables had been turned. She and John were not used to this; not used to being small and depending on grade-school-aged sons to take care of them. Of course, Alex and Nate were the reason why they were now so small...and neither she nor John were too crazy about having to sleep in a hamster cage.
"Why are they so cruel to us?," she'd asked John before they went to sleep the night before. "They're nice kids...usually."
"Boys will be boys," John replied. "They're probably getting a kick out of all this, but they don't realize they're hurting us. Maybe they'll bring us back to normal in the morning."
Or maybe they wouldn't. Maybe they'd go to school on Monday and show off their miniturized parents to their classmates-- John sitting on Alex's left palm and Maureen on his right, as mammoth school kids huddled around to see them.
The previous night, a Saturday, John and Maureen had been to see folksinger Tom Rush at a "coffeehouse" sponsored by a church in Marblehead. They'd left the boys at home ("Maybe they'll just watch a DVD," Maureen had said.) It was an enjoyable show which ended at 9 pm, and they were back home by 9:30. Alex was on the computer in one room as Nate watched some sports on TV in the other. Alex logged off and went into his room for a moment, then emerged with what looked like a cellphone. He squeezed it and pointed it toward his father, and then did the same with his mother.
Both of them blacked out for a moment. When they regained consciousness, John saw that he was on the floor, a hardwood floor that seemed as big as a sports arena. In one direction, he saw a huge pair of white-stockinged feet; above that, white sweatpants stretched up followed by a blue T-shirt and the larger-than-life face of Alex Rizza. Maureen, at that same moment, was being rolled gently onto a six-foot-long hand which then lifted her up. The hand's thumb swiveled over and pushed her down just firmly enough so that she wouldn't fall out, as the hand tilted up slightly. And she saw her son Nate's face in front of her, laughing with delight.
"It DOES work!," Nate burst out.
"Good thing I didn't try it out on you, squirt," replied his older brother. "You'd be crying if I did."
"Would not. I could take it."
"Well, then, maybe I'll..." Alex lifted the device but Nate ducked down, being careful not to injure his mother in the process.
Alex laughed. "I was just kiddin', you retard."
Maureen and John were speechless. Their son had just reduced them to just under six inches tall. "You OK, mom?," asked Nate, looking down at the doll-like figure in his hand. She nodded nervously. John, meanwhile, had run over to the corner of the room when he saw Nate duck down. He crouched down, next to one of Alex's discarded sneakers. Finally he got up and walked cautiously toward Alex, who put down one of his hands. John climbed aboard and was brought close to his son's face. "Now, son, this might be funny to you guys, but the joke's over. I want you to bring your mother and me back to normal." Their sons giggled. Who was this dollsized man to order them around?
It would have made the perfect Disney movie. "Honey, We Got Shrunk By Our Kids". But it was far from funny for Mr. and Mrs. Rizza.
Nate and Alex had found a hamster cage for them to sleep in. Nate took two flat sponges and laid them side by side in there, then put a facecloth on top of them (with another facecloth to serve as a blanket). It was surprisingly comfortable. There was a water dispenser if they got thirsty.
Maureen asked her sons, "What did we do? Why did you shrink us?" They both shrugged. Alex told his parents they should be glad; that it must be fun being that small. Obviously, they disagreed with him. Before putting them in the cage, Maureen kissed the cheeks of her titanic sons. "I might be dollsized, but I still love you kids."
"Thanks, Mom. We'll bring you back to normal tomorrow," said Nate.
They put their parents in the cage and walked off to their bedrooms. It was hard to believe that these gargantuan grade-schoolers used to be puny compared to their parents. But now they had the upper hand because THEY had the size advantage.
The boys wished each other goodnight.
Which brings us back to the next morning, a typical Sunday morning in most respects, except in the case of the Mini Mom and Diminished Dad. Charming as it may have seemed to have their sons serve their tiny parents breakfast, the whole thing was so unsettling to them. It was amazing to think that some device had shrunk them (had their kids invented it?) and they only hoped that the device could also bring them back to normal size....or would it?
Late Sunday morning John and Maureen asked their kids to bring them back to normal size, but the kids told them they'd do it a bit later. "Must be awesome to be that small!," said Alex.
"Not really," said his dad. "I mean, it's kinda fun in some ways to see things huge, but it's dangerous, too."
"That's why we put you in the cage last night," said Nate. "We didn't want you to get hurt."
"Then why did you shrink us?," asked Maureen. "All sorts of things can happen to us at this size-- BAD things. And we're your parents, for crying out loud! You're supposed to show us respect!" What Maureen DIDN'T say was what was painfully obvious: as parents, John and she could get that respect partly, if not mostly, due to the size advantage they held over the kids. Yes, they were older and more experienced in life and it was their job to raise their kids right. But how could a five-and-a-half-inch mom or dad properly discipline their kids when they did wrong?
The tables were indeed turned. Now their kids had the power.
"Well, we're gonna hang around with some of our friends...we'll leave you here. I'm sure you'll be OK." Alex had a disturbing smirk on his face.
"Just a minute, buster!," shouted John.
"You bring us back to normal right now, or--"
Alex and Nate departed and a moment later, his tiny parents heard a car's motor rev to life outside. "They WOULDN'T!"
John ran over to the window and climbed up the cord of the windowshade. He saw his car slowly begin to move--piloted by Alex, all of 12 years old, and quite obviously unlicensed. Nate was in the front passenger seat, and Alex was driving (though he couldn't see too well over the wheel and his feet barely reached the pedals.) The car exited the driveway.
They must have found my extra keys, thought John. If John had been normal sized, he could have run outside to try to stop them but he was powerless now. He thought of calling the police (he'd have to climb onto the coffeetable and somehow manipulate the gargantuan phone to do so), but figured sooner or later someone would spot the 12 year old, inexperienced driver. Or maybe he'd stop at a friend's house and the friend's parents would notice that Alex was driving...
A few minutes later, they heard the car pull up. The door opened and
Alex and Nate walked in, together with one of Alex's friends, Jerry. John
and Maureen tried to dash for cover, but John slipped-- suddenly he
spotted the huge figure of Jerry heading straight for him. He rolled out
of the way as Jerry's 10-foot-long sneaker smashed down an inch from his
body. "DAD!," shouted Nate, who spotted the tiny figure on the floor. "Be
"It's true. You dudes DID shrink your parents!"
"Dad, you OK?," asked Nate.
John nodded, then his face exploded with rage. "YOU STUPID (expletive)S! YOU STOLE MY (expletive) CAR! YOU'RE NOT EVEN OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE."
"But we're big enough," replied Alex. "Not like you could drive it now..."
A voice came from the floor. "We've had enough! Bring us back to normal NOW!" It was their mother, down near Nate's sneakered feet. Nate picked her up and placed her gently on the coffeetable.
"You got a dollhouse for them to live in or somethin'?," asked
"What you don't understand, kids, is that you simply have to bring us back to normal sooner or later," said John. "We earn the money so all of us can live here. And your mother and I are supposed to bring you up--how can we do that when we're this size?"
"C'mon Dad, this is just for a lil' while," said Alex. "Enjoy this while you can--"
"ENJOY? You think I enjoy being worried sick when you kids steal my friggin' car and take it for a joyride? And what if the cops had stopped you? It's not like we could have gone to the police station-- well, not at this size..."
"Oh, we got a car for you," chimed in Nate, who ran to his room and brought out a radio controlled car. He placed his dad in it and started to run the controls. It kept banging into walls and the sofa; John scrambled out of it, and Alex picked him up and placed him on the desk.
"What's with you kids?," asked Maureen. "OK, so you figured you'd shrink us for a laugh...but you're hurting us. You've never acted like this before--you're being mean."
They weren't listening. Alex told Jerry, "We could bring 'em to school
Alex had gotten the idea to shrink his parents after seeing an episode of an old TV show, "I Dream of Jeannie". This astronaut was married to a genie, and one day she accidentally shrank him (Tony Nelson) to six inches tall.
A cat had chased Tony into a closet where he tried to hide, but he wound up running out into another room, climbing up a phone cord to the top of a desk. A phone started ringing, and it was deafening! He had to grab a giant pencil to pry the phone from its cradle; also, he wound up on a "record player" (what they used to have before CDs), spinning around...and down below him on the carpet was that ferocious cat, whose meows sounded like lion roars.
Nate had walked in as the episode was running. "Oh, yeah, there was a movie on TV kinda like this. Some guy keeps getting smaller-- the Shrinking Man, or somethin'."
"Little people...I think that's cool. Just like 'Indian in the Cupboard' or 'The Borrowers'." Alex lifted up his hand, palm-side up, and pretended a tiny person was on it. "Hey, there, shorty!" Nate played along, reaching over to grab the imaginary tiny man that Alex had.
Alex had a cellphone which he took apart, making some adjustments. He wired it up a certain way and pointed it at a pair of his sneakers. Instantly they were reduced to about three-quarters of an inch long. Would this work on animals...or people?
Well, John and Maureen were living proof that the device Alex had "invented" did indeed work. The clothes they'd been wearing the previous night had shrunk with them-- "which reminds me," said Alex... "I gotta shrink some more clothing for you guys."
Alex's parents said they'd rather just have him enlarge them back to normal size, but Alex would have none of that. Nate, Alex, and Jerry went outside to run around for awhile, and John and Maureen changed into some fresh clothing. "Maybe they'll have us bathe in the sink or something," Maureen said.
"I wonder if we can get that device and grow ourselves back to normal?," asked John. He went into his bedroom and, on a hunch, climbed up his dresser using a lamp cord. Maureen followed him. Sure enough, the device was there on the dresser's top...but John couldn't figure out how to use it. It looked like an ordinary cellphone, but how had Alex used it to shrink them?
"Maybe he has it set to shrink, not enlarge," said Maureen. "I don't want to shrink even more!"
They heard Nate calling for them from the other room; he'd come back in. Nate went into the bedroom and saw them on the dresser top. "Aw, you guys are too small to be able to use that," laughed Nate. "Don't worry, we'll make you grow again, a lil' later on."
Nate reached for the device. "Look, we're gonna go over to Jerry's house--don't worry, we'll WALK this time. Is it OK if we get some pizza later on?"
John reached in his pocket and held up his tiny wallet. "I don't think they take money this small."
"They didn't shrink my purse," said Maureen. "OK, you can order from Maria's, but keep it under $15. You can get the money from my purse... have them deliver it."
There was a reason why Nate took the shrinking device. Jerry asked if he could "borrow it". The Rizza kids already knew that Jerry's parents weren't as laid back as their own. They were strict, abusive, and punished him severely for the slightest things. He didn't cut the lawn right. He slept too late. He didn't do all of his homework. Lydia and Nick Inman had little patience, and they took their anger out on their son, verbally and physically.
As soon as they showed up, Nick started yelling at him-- he hadn't finished his chores! His room was a mess! Nick lunged after his son to try and slap him-- but the next thing he knew (after a few seconds of unconsciousness), he was down on the floor, surrounded by his son's mammoth sneakers. Jerry's face loomed over him and his hand closed around his father's now puny body. A minute or so later, Lydia also found herself reduced to doll size.
Nick and Lydia almost felt like they hadn't shrunk--instead, everyone and everything else in the world was now suddenly twelve times bigger. Including the three sixty-foot-tall boys who loomed over them.
"I don't think you've finished YOUR chores, Dad!," said Jerry. "First, you can clean my room..." Nick suddenly found himself surrounded by discarded socks and T-shirts. "You can put those in the laundry and then make my bed--oh, I know it's probably tough for someone your size to do that, but..."
Nick started to protest (in obscenity-laced terms), until Alex pointed out to Jerry that he could shrink Nick again. "A flea-sized daddy!"
Jerry's mom, Lydia, started to run away. She anxiously looked over her shoulder and didn't notice what she was about to bump into.
The family cat.
Covered with black fur and many times bigger than Lydia, the cat's slumber was interrupted by the miniscule mother's collision with it. It let out a ferocious meow; Lydia saw one of its paws reaching for her. Jerry grabbed the cat and saved his mother from a bizarre death.
"It's not safe around here," Jerry told his parents. "Come with me." With that, he placed his reduced mother and father in his backpack, making sure there was a space so air could get in it. He and the two Rizza kids headed back to Alex and Nate's house.
It was now Sunday afternoon. Normally, John and Maureen might have done some shopping, or perhaps taken the kids to a state park. In fact, that's what they'd intended to do this Sunday...until the plans were changed. At this size, they had no hope of driving a car. Even if they did manage to go for a walk with their kids, the boys would soon cover much more distance, as their parents' legs were now only a couple of inches long, their feet only four-fifths of an inch long.
"I didn't know we had a 12 year old genius for a son," said Maureen.
"It's amazing he could invent a shrinking machine."
The kids got back in. It was a good thing they had keys. Certainly their mom or dad were in no position to be able to open the door for them. They looked down at the floor, being careful not to step on John or Maureen, but as it turned out both of them were on a desk, right next to a phone. Alex said he was going to order the pizza but he forgot the number. He set the phone's handset down and his father punched the numbers for him, using his hands instead of his fingers. Alex then picked it up and ordered a large pizza and a small one.
John and Maureen had thought of summoning help with the phone. With a good push, they could have gotten the handset off the cradle (it was a traditional land line, not a cellphone) and dialed for help, but why bother? Only Alex knew how to use the shrinking machine (and he'd taken it with him, anyway).
The world was now so much different for John and Maureen. Before, they had control over things. Now, they were just about helpless. They could hardly reach anything. Distances were greater, things were heavier. And oh yes, their two sons were now as big as King Kong.
Jerry put his backpack down on the sofa and carefully reached inside
for his parents.
"Just Jerry's mom and dad," said Nate. Swell. Now they were victimizing more people (though Maureen remembered their kids telling them that Jerry's parents were mean...maybe they deserved it.) Jerry's dad was shocked. Suddenly, he couldn't push his son around anymore-- now his son seemed about 60 feet tall and weighed many tons. He knew his son was pretty good-natured, but now that Jerry was a giant (by comparison), just what would his supersized son do to him?
Jerry's mom, Lydia, seemed frightened but Jerry re-assured her, "Nothing to worry about. No cat here." Maybe so, thought Lydia...but maybe I need to worry about what my formerly-little son might do to me...
Nick Inman wondered if he'd always be this small. Surely they'd bring him back to normal, right? Otherwise, he and his wife would have to depend on their twelve-year-old son to take care of them in a suddenly-huge world. Yikes... the same son who never seemed to listen to him, who never did his chores. And it wasn't like they were pets...this kid had tiny people to take care of-- his parents. If not for them, he wouldn't even be here.
The pizza arrived and Alex paid the delivery man. He wouldn't have noticed the shrunken people, off in another room, but even if he had it wouldn't have made much difference. Only Alex knew how to use that device. Only he could help them now.
Alex, Nate, and Jerry ate all of the large pizza and about half of the small one. The tiny people wound up eating one slice, which Nate had cut into small pieces with a knife. The kids watched TV for awhile. Alex pulled his legs up and placed his dad on one knee and his mom on the other. Jerry told his father he'd bring him back to normal size if he could "touch the bottlecap"... he had his dad stand on his cupped left hand while his right hand held a cap from a soda bottle. Nick kept jumping up a few inches (to him, a few feet) but Jerry kept bringing the bottlecap up a few more inches, preventing his dad from accomplishing the feat. Lydia just sat on the floor next to her giant son, looking very worried.
Maureen slid down Alex's leg, landing on one of his stockinged feet. She walked over to Lydia to comfort her. The two women went for a walk toward the hallway. Suddenly there came a knock on the door. "I'll get it," said Nate. He went over to his mom and Jerry's mom and lifted them safely, placing them on the desk. Nate opened the door and saw it was her aunt Jill, Maureen's sister.
"Hey, darlin'...is your mom around?"
"Hi, Aunt Jill--sure, I'll get her!" And he did just that, placing his hand down on the desk. Maureen climbed aboard and Nate went back to the door. Maureen waved up nervously at her younger sister, who thought at first that she was seeing a perfect doll replica...but this was no doll.
"Hi--uh, don't worry, I'm OK. The kids shrank us."
Jill looked over at Alex, who stood up and walked over, holding his dad in his cupped hand. Next, Jill glanced down at the desk and saw Lydia, who introduced herself as the mother of Alex and Nate's pal Jerry.
"Unusual name," said Jill nervously.
"More like the shrunken lady now," laughed Nate.
Jerry grabbed his father and carefully placed him on the desk next to
his mother. "They'll be OK," said Jerry, referring to the shrunken people.
"Alex invented a shrinking machine."
"Thanks, Jill," said Maureen, sitting cross legged on Nate's palm. She looked up at her gigantic 10-year-old son. "I hate to ask again, hon, but could you...?"
Nate glanced over at Alex. "Should we bring 'em back to normal
Nate put his mother and father down on the living room floor, and Alex grabbed the device, punching in some numbers on what used to be a cellphone. "I think this should work." Just to be sure, he grabbed a pen and placed it on the floor, then pointed the device at it. A moment later, there was a 6 foot long pen in the room.
That was a good sign! Alex pointed the device at his father and then his mother. As before, the force of the device knocked them out for a few seconds, but when they came to, John was again 5'9" and Maureen was again 5'8"!
They went over to hug their kids. Instead of being 60 foot tall giants, Alex was once again a foot shorter, and Nate a foot and a half shorter, than them.
"Uh, we're sorry we shrank you," said Alex. "Just couldn't resist, I
"What do you think, Jer?"
Alex pointed the device at Jerry's parents. When they came to, they found they were larger...but not as large as they'd hoped to be.
Nick and Lydia Inman were now three feet tall. Their five-foot-tall son smiled down at them. "C'mon, lil' ones, let's go home." He looked over at Alex and Nate and smiled. "Hey, I never had a little brother and sister before. This'll be kinda like that."
"Take good care of them, 'big brother'!," laughed Nate.
A week later
"OK, kids, breakfast is ready," said Maureen. Nate and Alex walked across the table. Alex was slightly taller than his father's coffee cup; Nate, slightly smaller. John poured a glass of orange juice and placed it next to them. It was chest-high to them. John handed them a thin straw-stirrer which they put into the glass, and they used it to drink from it.
"Well, your turn to be tiny now, eh boys?," he asked them.
"Yeah--should be fun...but we'll be careful," said Nate.
And the kids actually wanted to be shrunk to about 4 and a half inches tall or so...now, they wanted to see what it was like to be that small. They knew it could be dangerous, but they trusted their parents to keep them safe.