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
[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
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
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.
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
"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.