Brer Fridge and Other Sneaky Appliance Attacks

Sep 30 2011

There’s been an uprising, and I’m pretty sure my toilet is the leader of the resistance.

I’m no longer convinced, like I was yesterday, that my inability to open the mailbox, listen to the answering machine, or flush the toilet were my fault.

(Side note: Finding a way to blame others is a particularly useful skill when you’re a mom.  You thought it was useful as a child or a sibling.  But that was just practice.  Those were the minor leagues, kiddo.  Parenting is where you really put this talent to the test.  It’s like hanging out in amateur competitions, not sure exactly how you’re going to channel your natural ability, and suddenly deciding, “What the heck?” and going pro.  If you’re new to parenting, watch and learn.  You don’t even need to blame another person.  Inanimate objects work quite well.  I’m telling you:  Watch.  And.  Learn.)

Now, I’ll admit it.  My appliances were pretty darn sneaky, and they almost – by the skin of their teeth – pulled one over on me.  But, in the end, they just reached too far, too fast.  And they gave themselves away.

See, following the terlet, phone and mail debacles, I was on a roll.  I thought to myself, “Self!  You cannot let the silly little things get you down.  Buck up and suck it up, Lady.”  And then I did.  I bucked up and I sucked it up.  And I moved on.

I decided I was gonna be brave.  I was gonna be strong.

And, FYI, “brave and strong,” when I’m single parenting my 5 kiddos, look a lot like cooking dinner from scratch.  So that’s what I did.

Roasted Garlic Oven Fries were baking away in my oven last night.  (The oven I start with an ice pick.  That oven.)  And I’d just finished finely shredding a head of cabbage for a batch of homemade coleslaw when I opened the fridge to grab a jar of olive oil mayo, the centerpiece of my slaw dressing.

And that’s when I realized my fridge wasn’t cold.

In fact, it was well on its way to lukewarm.

And my snarly, shifty, underhanded appliances almost, almost pulled one over on me.  Because, for a while, I was focused solely on pulling out coolers, bagging ice, and moving the beer in the garage fridge to a less (~tear falling~) cold location to make room for, oh, you know, the milk that sustains our high child population.

(Let it be noted that, when push came to shove, I chose milk for my children over beer for me.  I’m a saint, is all I’m saying.)

But, as I piled up the mountain of towels in preparation to defrost our ice-encrusted freezer (and as I tried to convince my children that garlic oven fries and homemade slaw are, too, a full meal!), I paused.  I paused with dawning realization.  I paused with dawning realization and said in a slow, dawning-realization way, “Hey.  Heeeeyyyy, now…”

Because it’s one thing to have the toilet fail.

And the mailbox fail.

And the answering machine fail.

And the oven on-switch fail.

And the microwave fail.

(Although, I admit that the oven and microwave have been staging their own sit-in for a while now.  …  Still!  Fail.)

But the fridge, too?  All in the same 4-day period?  Seriously?

It’s unmistakeably a well-organized and soundly executed rebellion.  Perhaps with outside funding from one of those radical, Free the Appliances groups that I hear interviewed on National Public Radio.  And I caught them red-handed!

I am SO on to you, appliances.

Sure, I had a few missteps last night.  For example, I threatened, on that Bastion of All Things Whiny known as Facebook, to replace the fridge before Greg returns on Tuesday.

But I recognized, just in time, that my fridge is Brer Rabbit and Anywhere But My House is the Briar Patch.  So, in this case, the fridge is staying.  If I mean it about natural consequences (and I do so mean it – just ask the kids), then, Brer Fridge, you’re outta luck.  You overplayed your hand.  And you’re stuck with us.

Also, no matter what I professed on Facebook, I don’t actually want to take my 5 kids appliance shopping.

So, you know what, appliances?  Bring it.  You have lost the advantage of surprise, and I am eminently prepared for this type of endeavor.  Not only did I live in Manila, Philippines during the August 1987 coup attempt on President Aquino’s government, I, more applicably, have had five children make similar attempts on my own government.  They would rule if I let down my guard, folks.  They surely would.

Happy Friday, everyone!

May your weekend be blissfully free of sneaker appliance attacks, and may you rest well so you’re ready for Monday.

As for me, I will be vigilent.  I will be prepared.  I will be ever on my guard.  (And I will collapse on Tuesday.)

In other good news, this is Day 5 out of 9 days Greg’s away.  Halfway there, baby!  It’s Hump Day!  Without the …


Should’ve quit while I was ahead.

My Husband’s Wife is Pathetic

Sep 29 2011

Greg’s been away for 4 days so far, and already my loving husband’s absence has shed a bright and glaring light on my patheticness.

Just you shush, Spellcheck.  Patheticness is totally a word.  And believe me, Spellcheck, when I tell you that you do not want to argue with me right now.  I’m single parenting 5 kids.  I didn’t have time to finish going potty this morning.  And I’m seriously considering sending very expensive flowers to my old friend, The Shower, because I miss her and I really want her to be part of my life again.  So you’ll understand that I’m not in the mood for your red, squiggly whining and your ongoing penchant for being right.  It’s not endearing; it’s just irritating.

(I’m sorry the rest of you had to see that.)


Before Greg departed on his epic adventure into the wilds of Utah, I would’ve told you that I’m a self-sufficient woman.  I’m strong.  I’m capable.  And I’m definitely not waiting around, damsel-in-distress style, for my man to take care of all the manly man chores.  I mean, come on. I can wipe a runny nose, slice an apple, make a casserole, kick the oven closed, harness the dog, and remind my 5th grader that he will talk to me respectfully… all at the same time.

So it stands to reason that I also know how to operate our mailbox, our toilet and our telephone answering machine.  Those are, after all, common conveniences of the modern world.  No one I know in America doesn’t know how to use those.  (Yes, yes.  I know that was terrible sentence structure.  I should correct the double negatives and make it read, “Everyone I know in America knows how to use those.” But I’m tired.  Hang in there.  I’m doing my best.)

You can see right where this post is headed, thanks to my heavy and obvious use of foreshadowing.  (Middle school literature teachers, feel free to use this in your lesson planning.)  Nevertheless, I persevere with all of the minutia, because that’s the way I roll.

Our Toilet

One of my children is a freak of pooping nature.  For obvious reasons, like the fact that I one day would like my children to visit me in my nursing home, I can’t reveal which child specifically.  But, I will say that the sheer girth of this child’s end product astounds me.  You think I’m exaggerating, but I respond, resoundingly, “Am not.”

It’s like the child is able to dislodge a baseball from a hole the size of a blackberry.  An actual, fully spherical baseball.  As in, if this child ever managed to swallow a baseball, I would not have to take an emergency trip to the hospital; we would be able to wait out its passing at home, and it would be entirely uneventful.

Post-poop, I have actually, more than once, made guests walk with me to the toilet to take a gander.  (Just makes you itch for an invitation to my house, doesn’t it?)  Because these masses are a Wonder of the World.  And I’d feel terrible if someone missed a Wonder of the World just because I was being squeamish or, you know, socially appropriate.

And the only one more astonished than me by these perfect poos’ perpetually enormous circumference … is our toilet.

Our poor toilet.

If she was a person, I’d write her a letter of apology for forcing her, time and again, to binge beyond her capacity.  Of course, she does find a way to protest.  Like a toddler being offered pureed spinach, she clamps her jaws tight and refuses to participate in the madness.   And then Greg regularly must convince her to take it in smaller bites.  Greg is the Enforcer, and a Stick and the Plunger are his right-hand men.

Unfortunately for me, Greg’s away right now.

Let’s just say that the toilet and I had a classic clash of ideology last night.

Me:  You are a toilet. This is your job. I will use this Plunger, and I am not kidding. Any of these children whose hineys you see every day will tell you that I mean business.  Don’t make me do it.

Toilet:  Prove it!

And then I did.  And it was as awful as I imagined.

Our Mailbox

How hard is it to a) walk to the mailbox, b) open the box, and c) retrieve the mail?

I accomplished task “a!”  Go, me!

Sadly, task “b” was a dismal failure.  I can’t open the @#$% mailbox, ‘cause — guess what? — it needs a key.

Greg knows that the mailbox needs a key.  You know why?  Because Greg is not pathetic.  Well, and, technically, because he has a mailbox key.  Which he probably told me before he left.  In fact, I’ll bet it was right around the same time that he noted where I could find said key.  Which is only a vague memory because, seriously, why would I need to listen to a long explanation on how to open the mailbox?  It’s just a mailbox.  How hard can it be?

Our Answering Machine

The light on our answering machine has been blinking since Monday.

I insisted several years (note the word years) ago, during the tide of cultural change to cell phones, that we maintain a telephone landline.  I didn’t want to rely on babysitters to have their own cell phones, and I wanted to be sure we owned a phone we could actually find in an emergency.  (FYI, we can never find the landline phone, so that was a remarkable success.)

For years (did you see that?… years, I tell you…), we’ve kept the landline and the accompanying answering machine.  For years, we’ve maintained a home phone number.  For years, people have left us messages.  For years (!), we’ve heard and responded to those messages.

On Monday, someone called our home number and left a message on the machine.

On Tuesday, someone called our home number and left a message on the machine.

On Wednesday, someone called our home number and left a message on the machine.

Today, someone will probably call our home number and leave a message on the machine.

I know neither who called nor the subject of the call.  Because I have no earthly idea how to check our answering machine messages, and I have no choice but to now acknowledge that I apparently haven’t been able to do this FOR YEARS.

My children could be in trouble at school.  I wouldn’t know.

My annual exam lab results could be back.  I wouldn’t know.

Someone could have died.  I would have no idea.

In conclusion, my husband’s wife is pathetic.

It’s not pretty.  It’s just true.


Dread and Other Benefits of Blogging

Sep 28 2011

The Wife I Want To Be is at war with the Wife I Am.

It’s a raging and never-ending battle, with each side making gains and taking losses almost continuously.  “To arms!  To arms!,” I yell.  (FYI, I’m not sure which Me is yelling that.  It gets a little confusing coordinating all the skirmishes when the enemy is myself.)

Recently, my dad invited Greg to accompany him on an awesome canoe trip down Utah’s Green River.

I understand it’s a true, roughin’-it, float-the-river adventure complete with gourmet food and soft bedding.  And, wise men that they are, they both came straight to me to see what I thought about Single Mommin’ It for 9 days to make Greg’s trip possible.

Ah, crap! I thought glumly.

“Of course!” I said cheerfully.  I am, after all, graciousness personified.  (Ha!)

I mean, really.  Do I want to be the kind of wife who stands in the way of Greg’s opportunities?  (Yes?) No!  Of course I don’t.  That would be selfish and small of me.

Now, to be fair, Greg has had the kids many-a-weekend while I’ve wandered away for work or for respite with my girlfriends, and he rarely asks for the same favor in return.  Once upon a time, when I was a newer and nicer wife, I scheduled guys’ weekends away for Greg and his friends.  But then I found myself a touch overwhelmed with all the family scheduling, so I broke the bad news.  “Listen up!” I said.  “I ain’t plannin’ my time away and yours.  If Guy Time is important to you, you’ve gotta plan it yourself, pal.”

Except I didn’t say ain’t.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever said ain’t.  And, as far as I can tell, I ain’t ever gonna say ain’t.  So I’m not sure why I’m channeling an imaginary gunslinger.  I suppose Utah and thoughts of the Wild, Wild West are getting the best of me.  Hang in there, cowboys!  This here post’ll meander somewhere eventually.

Anyway, the point is, I really didn’t have a good enough reason to keep Greg away from this:

Which ought to explain why I’m at home now with my 5 kiddos, sucking it up, putting on my big girl chaps, and bringing the Mom-Only smackdown.  And, by smackdown, I mean absentmindedly saying, “Yes, yes; you can have another Otter Pop” over and over again.  ‘Cause that’s discipline at its finest!

We’re on Day 3 now of Greg’s Grand Adventure, and it’s going just fine.

But I’ll tell ya: this whole trip extravaganza resulted in one unexpected benefit that has been so overwhelmingly enjoyable that it might just make the Otter-Pop-sugar-high sacrifices completely worthwhile.

And that benefit is

The Dread.

Surprisingly, though, not my dread.  Oh, no.  Not my dread of forgetting a kid at school or neglecting a dance rehearsal.  Not my dread of sleeping through the alarm or overlooking a preschool snack.

I’m talking about the Dread that, even as I type, is shadowing my loving father and my dear husband.  Slinking after them on the water.  An ever-present itch at the back of their necks.

One of the little-known benefits of blogging is the abject terror thrust upon friends and family who never know when something will become blog fodder.  So, more than any other comment before my men left on their journey, I heard this… “How bad is it going to be, Beth?  How thoroughly will you roast us while we’re gone?”

The Dread.

Bwahahahaha! (I steeple my fingers while looking malevolently out from beneath my eyebrows.)

I truthfully had no plans to roast them.  Nor, to be honest, do I ever know what will burst forth onto blog paper.

But I’d just HATE to disappoint them.  Imagine… all that Dread for absolutely nothing.  It seems like a patent waste of terror, and I’m not sure it’s an easily renewed resource.  I mean, what if there’s a limited supply of the stuff?  And what if I squander theirs needlessly?  That would be sad.  So very, very sad.

Unfortunately, even though we’re a third of the way through the trip, I’m still at a loss for how to skewer them.

The Wife I Want To Be is at war with the Wife I Am.

Come on, Wife I Am!  Get your rear in GEAR!  Marshal your forces!  You’ve got a battle to win.  Ride, Lady, ride!

On The Importance of Telling Stories to Children

Sep 27 2011

Before I put my children to bed at night, I tell them a story.  Sometimes, I read from a book.  But most of the time, I invent something Once Upon A Timeish in my head.  Which, if you’ve been reading for any time at all, you know is a very, very dangerous place to be.

This is the story I told my 11-year-old son and my 9-year-old daughter this evening.  An evening during which they just might have said, “Fine!” and “Whatever!” to me one too many times.


Once upon a time, an elderly – no, ancient – King and Queen decided that they must, finally, hand the reins of their kingdom over to their children.  So they gathered the Prince and the Princess to tell them.

“We’ve gathered you here to tell you that we must, finally, hand the reins of our kingdom over to you,” they said.

“Hooray!” said the Prince.

“Hey!” said the Princess.  “You interrupted me!  I was going to say hooray!”

And then the Princess pushed the Prince.

And then the Prince pushed the Princess.

And then the Queen yelled, “Knock it off!”

And then the King yelled, “Knock it off!”

And the Princess said, “FINE!”

And the Prince said, “WHATEVER!”


And the King and Queen despaired.


They sent the children, who weren’t really children anymore, away from them, and they wondered what to do.

“What to do?” said the Queen.

“What to do?” said the King.

And they decided to send the children on a Quest of Cooperation, the outcome of which would determine, once and for all, whether the children-who-weren’t-really-children had the chops to run a kingdom.

“Children,” the Queen began when she summoned them back to her.  “Children, children, children…” and her words wandered off, and she looked glazed, not unlike a ham at Christmas dinner.

“Ahem,” said the King, taking over, because everyone knows that a Christmas ham doesn’t communicate very well, and, well, someone had to say something. “What your mother is trying to say is that we’ve decided to send you on a quest.”  Except that the King always spoke in a big and BOOMING voice, so it came out more like, “A qUEst.  Of cooperAYtion.  The OUtcome of whIHch.  Will detERmine WUHnce and for AHll.  Whether you have the chAHps to run MY KINGdom.”

Your kingdom?” said the Queen, coming back from Christmas hamdom.

“Ahem,” said the King again.  “My bad.  I meant to say… Whether you have the chAHps to run our KINGdom.”  Which wasn’t really that much better, what with the booming emphasis on “king” and the rather small emphasis on “our,” but the Queen wasn’t in a dithering mood.  So she didn’t.  Dither, that is.

And then the Prince said, “FINE!”

And then the Princess said, “WHATEVER!”

And the Queen rolled her eyes (which was as shamefully indulgent as it was necessary) before she outlined their journey.  “You must go over the Giant Bridge, go through the Sparkly Forest, and climb the Tallest Mountain…”

“Hey!” said the Prince.  “Didn’t I see that on Dora the Explorer one time?”

“No,” said the Queen.  “This is a medieval story.  We don’t even know who Dora the Explorer is.”

“Yeah,” said the Princess, mockingly.

“Fine!” said the Prince.

And the Queen finished, “… and bring me back the Lonely Flower that grows atop the mountain.  Only when you have completed this task – together – will we know you’re ready to rule OUR kingdom.”

“Whatever,” sighed the Prince.

“Fine,” agreed the Princess.

And they set off on their journey.

When they came to the Giant Bridge, the Giant who lived under the Bridge said, “Who DARES to disturb my slumber?”

The Prince, pointing valiantly at the Princess, said, “She does.”

And the Princess said, “Fine.”

And the Prince said, “Whatever.”

And the Giant ate them both up.

The End


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m not allowed to write children’s books.

The End

On Remembering Home and Journeying Well

Sep 26 2011


“If you are breathing, you should be laughing.”
Paul Westlund

My parents did several things wrong in the raising of a demure and sedate daughter.

First, they answered all of my questions.  All.  Of.  Them.  Usually more thoroughly than I hoped or planned.  Which made “do you like humping Daddy?” one of my more awkward 2nd grade moments.  Thanks, Mama.  Thanks a lot.

Second, when I was in my formative years, around age 11, my parents moved our family to Indonesia.

And not to the modernized part of Indonesia, either, where people wear – oh, you know – clothes. Nope.  My parents moved us to the highlands of Papua where string, gourds, pieces of bone and splashes of paint were more the fashion.

Arguably, Papua is one of the most remote places in the world, and, in this writer’s humble opinion, certainly the most hauntingly beautiful.

Frankly, though, it’s very hard to remain demure or sedate when you’re learning about the scientific pendulum effect from watching a tribal woman’s elongated breasts swing back and forth (and forth and back) while farming fields of sweet potatoes with her darling babe in a string bag on her back…. or while trekking up a mountain behind a man wearing a gravity-defying gourd tied complexly around his privates.  I’ll tell ya, to my parents’ chagrin, I found myself asking a lot more questions.

My dad’s flying career was varied.  So much so that one might rightfully call it messy.  From flying OV-10’s for the United States Marine Corps to busing the public around on commercial airliners, my dad eventually moved to bush flying.  In Papua, he flew Cessna taildraggers for Mission Aviation Fellowship, spending his days (and not a few uncomfortable nights) flying in some of the most dangerous terrain in  the world in order to deliver missionaries, food, medical supplies, and the occasional, penis-gourd-clad tribal chief to remote villages across the island.  Really, if you ever have the opportunity, you should buy my dad a beer and listen to him describe the act of putting a 5-point harness on a man wearing a dried squash on his special place.  It’s a story worth hearing.

Demure and sedate?  Bye, bye!

For me, the preadolescent child who was plucked from the mystifying social puzzle that was middle school in Southern California and deposited in the middle of the jungle with a bunch of shoe-shunning, monsoon-rain-dancing, water-fall-plunging missionary kids… it was Heaven.  A place to run wild and free.  And Heaven turned quickly into the Home of my Heart.

There are people who say, “home is where the heart is,” and I’m certain they’re right.  But I have to say, I often interpret that statement to mean what home isn’t… a physical place, a geographic location, or a point on a map.  To mean that you can carry your sense of home with you, like a snail with its shell.  To mean that home is about the people and the love, not about the hearth.

And that’s true.

But it’s not the whole truth.  Because, sometimes – maybe every once in a great while – home is about a place.

Usually, I’m so focused on my current house – keeping it clean (ha!), keeping it blood-free, and keeping it safe, stable and loving – giving it heart – that I forget about my childhood home.

But I was reminded a lot of home this week, because on Friday I learned that a missionary pilot from Papua died in a crash.

I didn’t know Paul Westlund personally.  But, as all missionary kids from Papua do, I have a long and bittersweet history becoming acquainted with death, so each new one brings with it an almost compulsive examining of the wounds on my heart.  Because we all know more than one pilot – and more than a few friends, too – who gave their lives doing what love does.

I went to spy on Paul’s Facebook page as soon as I learned the news.  (Oh, how times have changed from the days we had only radios and telexes to communicate!)  And I was struck by Paul’s info page where, in the “About Paul” section, it simply read, “If you are breathing, you should be laughing.”

If you are breathing, you should be laughing.

Yes.  This is what I remember about Home: the bone-deep memory that we breathed deep of life.  And, on the exhale, we laughed for joy and for the great gift that comes from risking it all to love… and to love well.

Today, I will breathe deep.  And then, I will laugh.

Selamat jalan, Paul.

Journey well.


Special thanks to Malcolm Wilson, photographer extraordinaire and my childhood friend, who recently took all of the amazing Papua photographs used in this post.  He titled his albums “Home,” and I couldn’t agree more.  Excellent work and terima kasih, Malcolm!  (And, um, nice hat.)

On Charming My Teen…

Sep 22 2011

A thousand years ago, I became a woman.  You know, in the traditional, “Mom, do not tell Dad!” sense.  In the “are you kidding me?” sense.  And in the “what is going to come from where?” sense.

I’m sure you get it.  I became a woman.  My mom did tell my dad.  It was awful.  And wonderful.  Embarrassing.  And empowering.

Growing up girl is tricky business.  I would know, because I’ve spent at least 28 years trying to figure it out.

But I’ll tell ya… helping my daughters grow up girl is even trickier.

Which of my hard-won lessons can I teach them?  And which must they slog through themselves?

Several years ago, during an epic gabfest with girlfriends that involved scrapbooking, wine, and an untoward story here and there that might or might not have involved a few bananas (ahem… sorry, Greg), we stumbled upon the subject of womanhood.  We talked about first bras.  We talked about first boyfriends.  We talked about fears and fantasies and friends.  We talked about mothers and men.

And then we talked about our daughters and how in the world to help them navigate a maze whose end we haven’t discovered.

We realized, in the course of our long conversation, that we had managed to create a remarkable community of wise and strong women.  And then we understood what we wanted for our daughters’ imminent womanhood; to gift them with the knowledge that they are walking the maze in concert with us — to help them understand that we’ve littered the maze already, seeding it with our prayers and our hopes for their present and their future.

We put our heads together, and we created a plan.  A wonderful, terrible plan.  (Not really terrible.  It just sounds more dramatic that way.)

Then, three years ago, when the oldest of our daughters turned 13, we made her our first victim.  In the time since, we’ve had Charm Parties for many more.

And last Sunday, it was my daughter’s turn.

Because, somehow, when I wasn’t looking, Abby turned 13.  She didn’t ask my permission.  She didn’t make an announcement.  She just went and did it.

Which is strange because, when I close my eyes, I still see this:

Hang on.

Give me a sec.

**deep breath IN…**

Aaaaannnndddd… ppppffffffff…

OK.  I’m good.

When our daughters turn 13, and I suppose I must bravely face the fact that mine did, we honor their entry into womanhood with a gathering of the women who play a significant role in their lives.


(No, I don’t know why Elsie is eating Abby’s head while her mama kisses the other side, but I love this pic too much not to share.)

From grandmothers to babes in arms…

…from mamas and aunts to sisters and friends,

we all come together to share what we love about the baby she was, what we celebrate about the girl she is, and what we hope for the woman she is becoming.

Each person who attends the party brings a bracelet charm that symbolizes, in whatever way the giver chooses, their prayers and wishes for this particular girl.

And we ladies who are, oh, say, 20 and above… we weep.  I’m not much of a crier, so it makes me achingly uncomfortable, but we – and I am sadly no exception – can’t seem to help ourselves.

The girls all giggle, waiting to see which mama or aunt or cousin will start the next round of waterworks.  They gleefully bring ’round the tissues, and we joke about waterproof mascara.


But they don’t know.  Not yet.  They don’t know why we weep.

They don’t know that we weep because we know.  We know… oh, not the specific turns she’ll take in the maze or the route she’ll pursue or the obstacles she’ll face… but we know the human condition, and we know in our experience what she will feel.  We know that she will learn about pain and grief.  We know that her heart will break.  We know that she will love and lose.  And we know that she will love and win.  We know that, at times, she will settle and sell herself short.  And we’re certain that she will reach higher and achieve more than she ever imagined.

We weep because we’ve learned that the bitter is oh-so-worth the sweet.  And we weep because we know she’ll have to learn to hold them both in her heart at once.

But, most of all, we weep because we know, for one afternoon, in one crowded room with our best women at our sides, that she will not have to stumble through the maze blind and alone.  No.  Our daughters are blessed with a crowd of women who’ve gone ahead and before… and many who are coming behind.  And around every corner, she’ll find a friend.

Because we’re here.  Waiting in the maze for you, baby.  We’re reaching our hands out to hold yours.  To pull you through when you need help.  To prop you up from behind.  To guide you in the dark.  And to simply walk alongside in companionable silence when the way is smooth and bright.

I love you, Abby girl.

Your Mama

Of All the Vomitters in All the World…

Sep 21 2011

Of all the vomitters in all the world, my son is the very best.

Truth be told, in a puke-off, I’d put my money on Ian any day of the week. And I’d win. And then I’d have a lot of money. So if anyone knows anything about the International Hurling Circuit, please private message me right away, because I am SO getting my son in on that action. I’m going to be, like, the pageant mom of puking. There’s going to be a reality show. It’s going to be fabulous.

Because, truly, of all the vomitters in all the world, my son is the best.

You think I’m kidding because I do that on occasion, but I assure you, I am dead serious.

My son is what you’d call a prolific puker. And although it’s lessened over the years, my son still involuntarily barfs for all sorts of occasions.

Nervous? He’ll puke.

Excited? He’ll puke.

Tuesday? Puke.

But not only is my son a voracious vomitter, he’s also very, very good at it.

Last night, a couple of my kids were wretched. Retch-ed, I tell you. A bug is apparently going around school, and my kiddos flagged him down and invited him for a sleepover. The darn bug eagerly accepted and hitched a ride home.

It started with the girl child, Miss Aden, who led with a broccoli-studded explosion that covered her bed, her wall, her door and her floor. And, because our rooms are always immaculate, it also covered her deer, her horse, her blanket, her dirty clothes, her books, and her toys.

I used to think that “projectile vomiting” was an exaggerated phrase that people said to be dramatic. And then we had Aden. And she had red Kool-Aid. And I had white walls. And it was stunning. Now I believe in projectile vomiting like I believe in the sun. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. It has warmed my body.

Last night, following the initial Event, we moved Aden to our bedroom to better monitor her nocturnal activity. We know her. We know her eruption style. And we know we all have a better chance of survival if we work together. See, Aden’s what we call a stealth bomber. She’s calm. She’s quiet. She’s painted matte black, and she sneaks in under the radar. In fact, not even Aden knows when she’ll flip the Vomit Destruction switch, so the first warning we usually get of impending disaster is the veritable fountain of up-chuck raining down upon us.

When she’s finished, we need shovels, HazMat suits, a delivery truck full of Lysol, and a fool-proof evacuation plan. It takes a lot of man-hours, but we’re experts.

So, as soon as Aden was ensconced in our bedroom, we lined it with towels. Floor to ceiling. Ceiling to floor. And then we waited for the explosions to come. Blast after terrifying blast, we whisked the towels away to the laundry room for a spin on the two-hour “extra sanitary cycle.” I rubbed Aden’s back and said, “I’m sorry, baby. Shhhhh. I’m so sorry.” We bathed her and washed away the aftermath. I braided and rebraided her hair while Greg shot anything that moved with his sharp-shooter Lysol skillz.

Then we crashed back into bed to the scent of aerosol bleach and the ker-clunk, ker-clunk sound of the washing machine and readied ourselves for the next round.

And the next round and the next, ’til Aden finally settled down around 4:00am.

Which was the exact same time that Ian grabbed the barfing baton and began his early morning, cross country trek for the gold medal of gushing. The sound alone was tremendous, as Ian tried to turn himself inside out, starting with his toes. He heaved in enormous and enthusiastic bursts. Of course, we checked on him time and again, because that’s what parents do… and because we needed to be sure the house was still sound amidst the shaking. And every single time, Ian gave us the thumbs up and asked us…

…to do absolutely NOTHING.

You know why? Because Ian is a Heaving Hero. He’s a Super Spewer.

And he always – and I mean always – has perfect aim.

Have you ever seen an expert javelin thrower cast his spear with perfect precision? Or a quarterback find that split-second opening and, across 45 yards, hit his wide receiver exactly in the sweet spot?

That is Ian with vomit and a toilet. I don’t care how far away this kid is from the privy – at home, at school, in an airport or on a train – in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse – when Ian starts to blow, I can count on him hitting his mark. In eight years as his mama, since we adopted him at the tender age of three, I don’t believe I’ve ever had to clean up his vomit.

And I will tell you right now, in the middle of a sea of pukers and feeling some serious sympathy-nausea my own self… I LIKE that about my son.