Night of the Living Dread

At one time or another we have all been afraid of "things that go bump in the night". As children, we have mental images of purple-green boogey men hiding under the bed. As we grow, we become more concerned by unexplained scraping noises -- usually a tree branch or nocturnal hamster. Yet as we become parents, nothing fills us with a sense of impending doom as quickly as "things that go ĎURPí in the night."

Thatís right, a sick child.

I have long pondered the phenomenon whereby a child will wait to become ill until you have finally fallen over the edge into peaceful slumber. Take three weeks ago. There I was dreaming of a size 4 me, a beach, two pina coladas and George Clooney beckoning in the distance. Slowly he approached with that come hither smile, those deep brown eyes. He reached me, opened his mouth to speak and said what every woman would die to hear, "WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."

His actual words were drowned out by the telltale wailing of my youngest daughter, obviously in distress.

I knew that wail. Any experienced parent knows that wail. So unlike any bad-dream-scream or need-a-drink-whine. Different even than the "I-peed-the-bed-again" cry. It is simply a different octave, sustained, and obviously not moving from where it originates.

Thatís right. Parents do not fear the wail simply because it sounds awful, but because its genesis paralyzes the child. Overcome with the "coming-from-the-deep" sensation, they simply sit up in bed, scream, and before you can get there, decorate themselves and their beds with . . . dinner.

We had hot dogs and macaroni & cheese that night.

Suffice it to say, it took some time to clean up, during which my middle daughter in the top bunk informed me that "It stinks." Thank you Kendall. I would have missed that part had you not pointed it out. Oh, and if you feel the need to say one more word, you will be wearing these fragrant rubber gloves on your head.

Finally I redressed the bed and Carson, and lay her back down. By her bed I placed a plastic trash can and implored, "Pleeeeeeeaaase, use it if you canít get to the bathroom." We all lay back down.

George looked deep into my eyes, raised his pina colada to my lips, leaned in toward my ear and whispered, "WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."

I raced from George to my daughterís room, but the damage was already done. Carnage so complete that my only recourse was to cut her pajamas from her body. Going over her head would have been cruel and unusual punishment ó for both of us.

Clean-up took almost an hour, by which time the middle child was asleep in her older sisterís bedroom and Carson, now empty, was sound asleep on a foldout chair in the hall. My only company was my rubber gloves, the washing machine and a half empty bottle of Cheer. Thatís right, no spouse. Note that my husband was again OUT OF TOWN. Talk about Murphyís Law.

Now, my husband is a wonderful hands-on parent, and we share everything. So ignoring the time difference that placed him at 2am, I called his hotel and requested his room. I just needed to talk to him and calm down. As he sleepily answered, I gently held the receiver next to my ear and said, ""WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."

Thatís called "Lindaís Law". Good night.