It hit me last night (again, more profoundly), the biggest difference between having kids and not: having some control over how you spend your time. Or, in the case of having kids: having no control over how you spend your time.
For example, imagine it’s Sunday night, around 9.30pm. The kids are asleep which means I have the possibility of a couple of quiet hours. I’m thinking….update the finances, read a book, write something, address the disaster that is the digital photos folder on my desktop, or try to recreate the Starbucks Holiday Gingerbread.
And before I can settle on even one of those options, I hear crying. I run upstairs, assuming it’s Percy waking up from one of his night-naps. But the crying comes from the older boys’ room. It’s the Hen. On the floor. ‘Did you fall out of bed?’ I ask, though I hadn’t heard the corroborating thud. He is unable to talk, he just cries. His arm is wet. ‘Did you pee in the bed?’ More wordless crying. And then I see it, the pile of ‘matter’ beside his pillow. And on the floor.
Scratch Operation: what to do with my two hours of free time, and replace it with Operation: VO.mit. Which will occupy the next four hours of my evening.
Of all the ‘benign’ maladies that can potentially afflict a young person, it is barfing that I dread the most. For the mess, the smell. The clean-up. Its ability to infect other members of the household. And the way it reminds me of my childhood barfing episodes – of which there were many.
It only takes one child and a little bit of regurgitation and I turn into a crazy lady, running the washing machine(s) at all hours of the night. Cleaning bathrooms. Sweeping floors. Cleaning trash cans. Vacuuming the carpets. Scrubbing the baseboards. And washing my hands as if I’m a brain surgeon instead of a mother with a puking child.
It’s as if I – through sheer flurry of cleaning activity – hope to stave off, nay prevent, that which is irrevocably heading my way. Perhaps, if all the laundry is done, and folded, and put away, and the floors are dusted and swept, and the bathrooms are spotless….then maybe the Hen won’t barf more than once, err twice, err three times? There’s probably not an actuary out there who would endorse this bizarre attempt at an insurance policy, but at least, if I do get sick, the house is clean-ish.
Despite my disdain of working in a vomitorium, I do it anyway, because my better half seems to magically ‘disappear’ at these, the worst of times. After the scene with the Hen crying on the floor, which I handled on my own, Herr Professor came upstairs with his shirt pulled up over half his face. Despite the fact that the scene of the crime was down the hall, and in another bedroom entirely. When I dare to raise an eyebrow, he blames me: ‘You’ve made me sensitive to smells.’ Because, yes, I have this sensory inability to stand inside Bath and Body Works, or walk through department stores’ cosmetic sections.
Apparently my inability to stand Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin or Dior’s Dolce Vita has rendered the professor unable to handle eau de tossed cookies. Seriously.
After helping the Hen into fresh pajamas, I set him up on the (sheet-covered) couch, and hit play for the first of a long series of DVDs. ‘Why do I get to watch so many movies?’ he asked suspiciously. Unable to believe his luck. ‘Because that’s the only good part of being sick,’ I explained, ‘you get to watch as many movies as you want.’
Well, he took that a little too much to heart. ‘I get to watch as many movies as I want,’ he boasted to anyone who dared to enter his sick space.
Our trusty vacuum cleaner broke last week and as I spent last night trying to vacuum carpets with the hose attachment, I decided ‘this aggression will not stand‘. So I logged onto the Costco website this morning. ‘I’m ordering a vacuum cleaner!’ I yelled at the professor who was sitting in the other room, trying to recover from being on Hen-duty during the hours of 3-8am. ‘You’re what?’
Maybe if I get a new vacuum cleaner, the barfing monster will stay away.