Subject: The Day Before the Night Before Christmas

Date: 28 Dec 1998 00:00:00 GMT

From: mumthraX@radix.net (Mumthra)

Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free

 

 

 

 

[reposting because I posted with my real thing before and had to

cancel for the firstest time ever! Whee!]

 

I ignored the baby's love call without success for about

fifteen minutes. "Bee-HOO-wah? Bee-HOOOOO-wah!" she said. In the

predawn hours I don't have sufficient pity to be propelled straight in

there to retrieve her: the pity has to develop.

 

Eventually I had more pity for her than for my semi-sleepless self,

and the call of "bee-HOO-wah" became the greeting "mwah-HOO-gah."

 

She rode my hip while I poured a cup of milk for her and a cup of

coffee for myself. I was careful not to mix them up and give her my

mug but I don't suppose it would have made much of a difference.

 

No matter how much I cooed or coddled, she was heading into the full

bloom of generalized baby fury. THWAP! The milk cup hit the floor. She

shrieked in frustration that the cup didn't leave a crater in the

linoleum. It's bad enough to be powerless without being pretty well

aware of it. "WAH!" she explained.

 

Surrendering to my own powerlessness, I gave her a dose of the red

decongestant to slurp and then deposited her back in the crib. She was

just more unready than usual to be among the conscious.

 

I checked on Sparky. She had migrated to the couch sometime during the

night. Her fever seemed to be done, but she told me that she'd woken

up to find blood on her teeth. She was happy to tell me all about it,

but refused to let me look at her mouth or her sore lip.

 

She'd been a touch hysterical about letting us look in her mouth since

the day before. Dr. Nagasaki committed some unnecessary roughness in

swabbing her throat for his strep culture.

 

"He CHOKED me!" she cried, "I can't BELIEVE it!"

 

I had tried to warn her that she was about to be Q-tipped in an

unpleasant way and she was outraged when she discovered that I was

right. Now she refused any mouth inspections and she may forever have

a deep-seated distrust of small Asian doctor men. That's her way.

 

A bit later, I found her snoring on the couch again. I measured out

her morning medicine, tiptoed to her side and crouched down to try to

study her mouth before I woke her.

 

Her lips were red and dry, and it seemed to me that the little bit of

gum peeking out looked swollen..."UNGWAH!" she barked, catching me,

her eyes wide open, "Not THAT medicine!!"

 

"THAT medicine" had nearly flown directly at the ceiling before I

recalled why I was looming over her with a thimble full of goo. She

drank it with dramatic gagging sound effects and went back to sleep.

 

"Bee-HOO-wah" time was back again all too soon. The baby was still

terribly surly, and seemed to have a bad case of the Hold Me Disease.

Nothing else would do for long, and if I had the audacity to do

another essential thing without holding her, she chased me and babbled

bitterly.

 

I had to call a client, so I tried a new strategy with her. Whenever

she came after me with that ooga-wooga-I'm-gonna-make-it-bad-for-you

face on, I waved a damp paper towel at her, as if I were going to try

to wipe her face. Whump-whump-whump she went in the opposite direction

each time. It was beautiful. I was very proud of having bested a

one-year-old yet again.

 

Her misery continued for hours, so most of the time I did nothing more

than hold her and mutter in her ears. I canceled my work schedule

so that I could attend the fevers and wails to everyone's

satisfaction. They have entirely too much power over me, and without

question the baby has the biggest juju at the moment. No one else can

expect me to pick them up and tell them that they are beautiful after

they have given themselves a snot facial. I'm pretty sure.

 

Late morning, Sparky startled herself awake and looked cooked, so I

checked her temperature, which was a very impressive 104.9. More

medicines, more fluids, more and more horrible cartoons.

 

Grandma returned Spunky at lunchtime. All the girls' presents for

Christmas were with them, even a few gifts for the no-account bird

thing.

 

Spunky had a veneer of vitality, but when she stopped moving,

she looked wan and anemic. The child would need to be pumped full of

liver and onions and wholesome low speed foods. I had to admit,

however, that for someone whose entire three-day dietary input

consisted of only one donut, she was using it remarkably well.

 

Having Spunky back seemed to be good for Sparky. They chased and

wrestled and teased. It was the most I'd seen Sparky move all day. Up

until then, she had groaned with the effort of pushing her hair away

from her eyes, when it became absolutely necessary to do so.

 

The baby peacefully went up for her afternoon nap, and the big girls

settled in with "The Land Before Spielberg," so I could expect about

ten minutes to myself before something else happened.

 

After nine minutes the phone rang. Looking out the window when I went

for the receiver, I answered the phone with, "It's snowing."

 

My mother cackled, "I know. That's why I called." She takes a

completely unhealthy glee in the inability of our weather forecasters

to get it right.

 

It was a beautiful snow. Big lazy flakes sailed around, enjoying their

individuality before they met and snuggled with their fluffy friends.

We were charmed, and I was certain that it would amount to nothing.

 

The freezing rain was the real problem.

 

Jack called to say that he was being entertained watching motorists

fishtail and fail to get up the hill in front of his office. We had a

little bit of snow and an entire rush-hour panic force between us. He

wasn't going to hurry home, but when I called again, he was gone.

 

The play time frenzy escalated with the frustration of watching the

snow accumulate, it just snowballed until both of them were running in

circles and emitting war cries. I opened my mouth to say something

devastating that would magically stop their momentum, when they

whacked heads and collapsed.

 

Spunky got to me first to show off her wounded chin, which was

amazingly unmarked, even though she claimed that it RILLY SOOPER HORT.

Sparky was howling silently, so I urged her into the light to get a

better look at what I hoped was her non-existent bruise.

 

She had a gash in her scalp more than a half-inch long. It was

bleeding respectably, but not alarmingly. I cleaned her up and shaved

a couple of tiny patches of hair away so that I could bandage it

properly. Her Uncle RN was very reassuring on the phone, and he was

very quick to repeat that it all sounded clearly non-lethal.

 

Spunky showed a healthy regret and sobbed along with her sister,

apologizing as if her entire Christmas depended on it. We agreed that

Santa probably would take a dim view of intentional fouls committed in

leap frog, but she hadn't done it on purpose. This time.

 

It was "Bee-HOO-wah" time again before the blood dried, and I was

enjoying the dialog I imagined we would have when Jack came crashing

into the house. He'd be full of florid complaints about the traffic

and the obscenity of his commute. He'd expect that I couldn't possibly

have bested him for horror, and then he would be completely disgusted

when I trumped him with tales of head banging and battle dressings and

a Sink! Full! Of! Blood!

 

This delighted me for at least an hour before it became clear that my

jolly oneupsmanship wasn't going to play out that way. My thoughts

drifted to that old Waltons movie, when Johnboy had to go out and find

Paw in time for Christmas. I had JUST been saying that I have an

entrenched dread that he's going to vanish one day, and here he was,

vanishing and making me wish I had a teenager to endanger in a search.

Well, kinda.

 

After another hour, when the girls were going to bed, I was fully

prepared to "take the call." I'd be able to identify his body just as

soon as I recruited a few strong-stomached neighbors to watch the

Terror Tots. I even practiced describing his tattoo in exact detail,

which is not as easy as you might think.

 

The phone rang. I wasn't as ready as I thought. "HELLO!???!?!"

 

"I can't get there," he said. "I tried for three hours and I can't get

there from here. I'm in a hotel. I'm wet. I'm sorry."

 

"O-o-okay," I said.

 

He had me beat after all. Poor guy. The fact that he couldn't get home

to me and the three-headed future estrogen factory was a thing to

ENVY, really, but he had earned a night off.

 

We piled into the big bed together and Spunky asked, "Is he ever

coming home?"

 

"I think so," I said. "He'll be home for Christmas." Having already

done a quick inventory, I added, "Besides, we have all his ties."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

This was probably from Mumthra.