The professor phoned me from the soccer field on Friday evening. Another game was starting and they didn’t have enough players, could he play a second game? All three kids were in bed, asleep, and I had visions of having a whole evening to myself. ‘Sure’, I said.
Soon after I’d hung up the phone and signed myself up for a round of single parenting, the Hen woke up. Crying hysterically. He was lying in his bed cowering under a blanket, pointing to the wall as though he’d just seen Gunther von Hagens.
I peeled the blanket off the little guy’s face. He was radiating heat, and even in the dim room I could tell his cheeks were fever-red. ‘Do you want to take a bath,’ I asked, ‘and watch a movie?’
What else can you offer a little man suffering from feverish hallucinations.
So I gave him a bath and took him upstairs to our room so he could watch ‘Up’ on the laptop. Instead of watching the movie, he tossed his birthday cake. All over our bed. Well, technically, just on Jason’s side of the bed. And, with that, visions of ‘an evening all to myself’ disappeared.
On his last eve of being two, I gave the Hen two baths and did two loads of laundry. I marveled at the coincidence as I sat slumped against the china cabinet downstairs, watching ‘Up’ with my second-born son.
I did not marvel at the coincidence when all five of the Johnsons were awake at 2.22am.
Since our bed was out of commission due to the earlier bio-hazardous incident, the professor and I slept downstairs. With the Hen, in case he got sick again. Which he did, at 2.22am. And then the Gort woke up, completely freaked out that his brother’s bed was empty. And his parents’ bed, too. He headed downstairs in a panic, waking up the baby in the process.
All I could think at that crazy hour with all those crazy people was ‘this ‘zone’ business is not working for me!’ Two parents cannot deal with a puking child, a crying child and a freaked out child at the same time.
Our pre-dawn antics meant the Hen’s birthday was a bit of a bust. He had no cake. He opened presents that he hardly played with. And we parents wandered around like zombies. ‘You’re three!’ I managed to croak periodically in a decidedly unenthusiastic voice. Fortunately, the recipient was equally unenthusiastic.
All I can say is it’s a good thing we’d celebrated the little man’s birthday a day early, otherwise I’d have to spend another year feeling guilty that the kid missed out on his birthday [for the second year in a row.] Now I just have to spend the year feeling guilty that I had a party for the Hen on his baby brother’s birthday.