Friday, July 10, 2009

Fiction Friday: The Serpent and the Underoos

There it was again. Something was definitely moving in the bathtub. Claire leaned closer to the opaque shower doors. ‘It’ was making a strange scratching sound, like tiny nails on a chalkboard. Sitting on the blue toilet, in the completely blue bathroom, she was stupefied. Her hand took the initiative that her brain was vehemently protesting, as she slowly opened the shower door to reveal what was preparing to kill her. And it almost did. As only little girls can, Claire emitted a series of staccato screams that were so loud and high pitched that the lab rats on the Space Station heard them. Her only stroke of luck was that she was already seated on the toilet.

The deafening screeches from her niece instantly put at least a dozen gray follicles to root. Connie burst into the bathroom to discover Claire with her Smurf Underoos around her ankles, hyperventilating in between her siren wails. Connie quickly lifted Claire off the blue throne by her armpits. As the words were about to tumble from her worried lips, Connie saw the horror for herself. No wonder she’s flipping out. Opening the shower door completely caused Claire to bolt down the hall in an awkward hopping fashion, while pulling her Geranimal shorts and Underoos up past her knees. Connie’s concern for her niece morphed into her normal, defeated rage that flourished during the antics of her boys. There, in her freshly cleaned sanctuary, was a box turtle the size of her own head, snapping at a very concerned garter snake.

“James—Timothy—Dennis! Get your rear-ends up here NOW!

Three blonde, stair stepped heads appeared in the door, each wearing an incredulous, ‘Who, me?’ expression.

Connie pointed to the tub, “Well?”

The youngest, Denny—who was infamous for giving up the goods to save his own delicate heinie flesh—predictably opened his mouth first. “We were having the ‘Battle of the Reptiles’!” This procured an elbow to the ribs from each older brother.

Connie’s eyes rolled back into her head as if she were about to seize. Lord, what have I done to deserve this? I’m a couldn’t give me one girl? Through gritted teeth she seethed at them, “Get those creatures out of my tub and back to the woods. Go apologize to Claire…and then, you three will scrub this move it.”

Denny grabbed the turtle, and Jimmy wrangled the agitated snake. Tim searched the house for Claire, finding her in the kitchen, trying to downplay her spaz attack. “Sorry about the turtle, Claire…”

“The turtle would’ve been okay, but you know I hate snakes.” He couldn’t keep the Cheshire grin off his face, and it became contagious. She stifled a giggle, which invited a spittle-snarf from him. In unison, they exclaimed, “Uncle Earl’s!”

Claire was a pseudo tomboy; molded in the weeks she spent there every summer. Vacation Bible School was alright, but she loved playing in the woods with her cousins. They caught frogs and turtles, searched for arrowheads and fossils, got filthy dirty and bathed in the murky pool every night. But she refused to ever go back to Uncle Earl’s. His mounted deer heads didn’t faze her, but his ‘coffin-sized-plexiglass-snake-cage-coffee-table’ gave her nightmares for years. The coffee table was ‘home’ to a Boa constrictor as thick as a two liter pop bottle, and as long as her daddy’s car. Between the couch and the TV, the monstrous serpent coiled itself in its narcissistic display case. When it flexed its massive muscular body, the plexiglass bulged like an overinflated balloon. Claire wet her Care Bear Underoos and shrieked all the way out of the house. She ate her dinner on the porch, wearing a towel.

Tim and Claire were still laughing at the memory when Aunt Connie came in, giving him ‘the look’; without a word he scurried out of the room. She sat down on the brown floral couch next to Claire. “I’m sorry ‘bout those boys. You okay, Claire-bear?”

“Sure, I’m okay…Aunt Connie? Why do boys like snakes and girls don’t?”.

“I don’t know, Hon. That’s just how God made us, I guess.”

“I really like coming here to visit, but I don’t think I would like living with boys all the time. I sure hope I have girl babies."

Connie chuckled and kissed the cowlick on Claire’s head. Okay God, you give me a girl for two weeks each year... “Me too, Claire-bear. Me too. I’m secretly praying for granddaughters, just like you.”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dirty Jobs: Parenthood Style

"I really hope she doesn't slobber much; that totally grosses me out..."

I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as I casually eavesdropped on two young pregnant women at a softball game last fall. I should've told her the truth, but it was too much fun just listening to them.

One of the biggest surprises of parenthood is how high your "nasty tolerance" goes up after the arrival of your screaming banshee(s). Don't get me wrong, I can still flinch a little, even gag, when I reveal the contents of their Winnie the Pooh decorated Huggies; but overall, most things no longer phase me a bit. Some days I feel like the featured guest on an episode of "Dirty Jobs".

So, how do tell this sweet, naive girl that slobber will be the most benign, innocuous substance that will ooze out of her little Malory? As plentiful as drool will be, it will be the least of the problems that she encounters...she will even willingly consume it when her baby starts giving kisses; bird kisses I call them. Open mouthed and drenched with saliva, sweet little Malory will lay one on her, melting mommy's heart and removing her makeup. Nope...slobber isn't an issue...

Maybe a 1 on the gross-out scale of 1-10.

Snot is another story...a sick baby doesn't know how to sniffle or blow her nose; so we parents vainly attempt to wipe it away frequently (making it red and raw) before it runs into their sweet little mouth. They smear it across their face and into their hair, and inevitably, on my shirt. Although it's icky, as a mom I am more consumed with the heartbreak of listening to my baby struggle to breathe through her nose, than squeamish about the copious amounts of phlegm.

I give it a 3.

Now as we venture out of the category of secretions and wander into partially and fully digested substances, we are getting to the true "Dirty Jobs" effect. When the babies were almost a year old, the whole family got the stomach flu...badly. The twins got it first, and it lasted five days. Imagine five formula bottles a day (per baby), plus the attempts of juice and grape Pedialyte, with only 10% staying down. Yes, that means 90% came back up: on themselves, each other, ME, the floor, their beds, and the furniture...for FIVE LONG DAYS (and nights). That is approximately 360 ounces of vomit in 120 hours. This was accompanied by explosive diarrhea (of course) that caused a terrible diaper rash on both babies. On day three I was afflicted by this evil virus. Imagine my right hand holding a screaming baby on the changing table as I knelt beside it violently vomiting into the diaper pail.

Gross factor...8.5.

If you are a parent then you understand that your primary concern becomes that child; you will do anything to help them and ease their suffering. I am amazed at the duties I perform these days. If you would have told me five or ten years ago that I would be holding up anyone's legs while spreading their buttocks to encourage them to "go", I would've said...well, it's not appropriate to say. An emphatic "no" is an understatement. To anyone listening through the baby monitor, we must sound like coaches in a Labor and Delivery room; I guess that would be accurate…sort of.

“No baby! Bend your legs! I know it hurts honey…you can do it! Push sweetie…PUSH!”

Reagan didn’t “go” at all today, although it was obvious that the need and desire was there. This evening I had an epiphany…maybe a nice warm bath would relax her enough to do the trick. It actually did occur to me that it might work…immediately; but not enough to give her sister a separate bath. I am sure that you are fully foreseeing what I didn’t…a water birth.

As soon as she started to groan and turn flush, I began screaming for my husband who was not in the immediate vicinity of the house. I could hear his footfalls clamoring down the hall at the exact moment the dam broke free. In true water birthing fashion, Reagan was semi-reclined against my left arm, as my right arm held up her right leg.

My Knight in Shining Armor burst in the bathroom door, “WHAT!?!”

At that very moment Reagan’s all day project was drifting towards Abby, who had not yet noticed it.

“GET ABBY OUT!! GET HER!” As if the stuff has never touched her precious porcelain skin. My primary concern was that she would, like anything else she discovers, pick it up and put it in her mouth. I shudder at the thought.

Prince Charming rescued Princess Abby before she was tainted by the evil poopy monster, leaving Reagan and I alone to proceed with her labor and delivery. My poor baby was still crimson and “contracting”, but after several minutes she completed her destruction of the bath tub. Happy days are here again. With a quick rinse, diaper and jammies, order was restored to the household…almost. I threw away the bath toys and then proceeded to strain, drain, bleach and scrub the tub until I had a migraine from the fumes. I think that I will take a shower tonight, since I will never look at my Jacuzzi tub the same again.

Gross-out factor…10+.

I've got to go now. I think Mike Rowe is at the door...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fiction Friday: I Am Chicken, Hear Me Roar

One more. That’s what I said, “Just one more.” The good Lord had a healthy chuckle at those plans, I am positive. And thus it began.

Let me tell you about a little term that the average thirty-something-year-old man cannot wrap his brain around: hyperovulation. Basically, this means that a woman releases more than one egg a cycle. Still not getting it? More eggs=more babies. Three years ago, this reproductive phenomenon gave us Isabella and Olivia; my Bella and Lily. Sigh. They make me two hundred pounds of gelatinous putty in their pudgy little hands.

However—for some men—there is a freakish, testosterone driven compulsion to have a male child. I guess we get wrapped up in fantasies about little league, fishing trips, and carrying on our name.

During the girls’ second birthday party, I whispered into my wife’s ear, “Just one more…” (Insert Divine laughter here.)

With three little words, I infected her with the most contagious of all marital illnesses. Baby fever.

And baby fever is a beautiful thing. Cha-ching.

Now, my part was easy. Hers, on the other hand, included a dry erase calendar on the fridge coded with a frillion different colored markers. There were strange symbols, phrases and abbreviations that meant nothing to me. Five red dots…basal temp…CM…seven green X’s…luteal phase. I asked her once what CM stood for. She told me. You don’t want to know. Seriously. Many times I stared at her baby making chart while sneaking a swig of juice from the carton, just shaking my head. “I’m so lucky to be a man…all the weird and painful stuff falls on women.” (Insert more Divine laughter.)

Before I knew it, my work was done. One morning, my wife peed on at least ten plastic sticks before calling her obstetrician.

Five weeks later, we went for her first ultrasound. As my wife and Dr. Bentley Maserati chatted, I struggled to keep Bella and Lily out of cabinets and drawers. Scary, scary stuff in those drawers. Again, don’t ask.

While Dr. Maserati was squeezing a gallon of goo onto her belly, he assured us, “As I said before, having more than one twin pregnancy is statistically very rare…”

Word to the wise…don’t trust statistical data from a man that delivers babies for a living. It’s the obstetrical equivalent to “cooking the books”; the numbers always get fudged in his favor.

This was a harder pregnancy than the first…

When my wife was about three months along, she had horrible morning sickness, which is never isolated to mornings, by the way. While we were en route to church, she had me pull over. When she got back into the car, she pointed at me while screaming, “YOU mister, are going to make an appointment with the urologist tomorrow!”


“Because I just wet my pants while throwing up on the side of the highway. That’s why! No more!”

I stalled. I clucked. I am chicken, hear me roar. No way.

“Just one more,” gave us two. Girls. Again. Cecelia and Josephine. I dodged the scalpel conversation till after the girls finally came—all healthy and loud. I’m putty in their tiny hands…very tired putty. I have never slept less in my life. Somewhere in a CIA memo was a torture itinerary with my schedule on it.

One morning I watched in awe as my wife tandem nursed Cecelia and Josephine, while Sesame Street blared in the background and the toddlers stage dived off the couch.

She adjusted the football style hold she miraculously maintained. “Hey, did you ever make that appointment?”

“For what?”

“You know, snip-snip.”

Cringe. Cluck. Shudder.

“Er…uhh…no, honey. But what if we change our minds and want to try for a boy?”

At that moment, I heard a sizzle and a pop. It was her brain…

“Are you insane? We have four children, under the age of four, and you want a male heir to the throne? As far as I’m concerned,” she grabbed one of Josephine’s legs and lifted her off the pillow, “this child came out with ‘the end’ stamped on her bottom! Make the appointment, or I’ll do it myself!”

I was afraid she meant she would perform the surgery herself.

The next week I found her staring at the fridge muttering something like, “long luteal phase…”

Come morning I noticed a pregnancy test in the bathroom trashcan.

I wet my pants as I threw up in the Elmo potty chair.

By afternoon I had an appointment.


This is a regurgitated FaithWriter's Writing Challenge story, because I am a lazy blogger. :)