October 17, 2012

A Tragic Comedy

I can never use this chair as the background for pictures again.
When you start having kids, you start thinking about all the inevitable firsts.

The first time they roll over.

Their first foods.

Their first words.

Their first steps.

But there's a bad side, too.

Their first nightmare.

Their first fight.

Their first illness.

Their first trip to the ER.

Okay, so sometimes their first sad thing is hilarious.
Does any child get through to adulthood without at least ONE trip to the ER?  I had a few- the first was when I was about four years old.  My father yelled at me.  I had been trying to share my ice cream with the guinea pigs in the basement.

I was SHARING.  I was being GOOD.

At any rate, he yelled.  And I went running up the stairs, slipped, and broke my finger.

I believe that as I was bundled up and taken to the ER for my cast, I kept yelling, "You're the worst daddy in the world!"

Aunt Genocide cracked her head open a few times.  Aunt Something Funny got nail polish in her eye when she was eight.

Things happen.

And between SI's fearlessness, and DD's refusal to keep her eyes in the direction that her body is moving, well...

It was a tossup who was going to make that first trip to the ER first.

But as in so many races, it's always those dark horse contenders.  The quiet ones.  The ones you least suspect.  You're watching the front runners, and then BAM!  Somebody else surges ahead right at the finish line.

That's right, RH got to visit the Children's Hospital ER last week.

She was exactly a week shy of four months old.

And that is why her sisters are in time out forever.

Everything is cute when it's small
Wait- I should step back a moment, shouldn't I?

Okay- starting over.

My children are girly girly girly girls.  They LOVE makeup and pretty dresses and fancy shoes and glittery things.  I got them "Fancy Nancy" for their birthday, and they want her to be their best friend.  They're that kind of kid.

And I occasionally indulge them.  They play pretend with their crayons- using them as an impressive rainbow of lipsticks.  SI seems particularly partial to green lipstick, so I suppose there's hope for my kids turning into outcasts and weirdos yet.

At any rate, occasionally, I paint their finger and toenails.

This is a special treat.

Actually, it's a treat for both of us.  They think that it takes at least ten minutes of sitting perfectly still before your nail polish is dry.  I wonder where they got that idea?

And me?  I am not a girly girl.  I do not wear makeup.  I don't wear fancy clothes.  I wear skirts, yes, but... you know... I'm not anybody's idea of a fancy lady.

Not fancy.
What I am is busy.  Exhausted.  And I have a lot to do.

So on Thursday, I was getting my dinner made.  I've been doing a debate/soup/bread theme, so I had a loaf of whole wheat bread I was getting finished, and a nice big pot of mushroom and wild rice soup.

To accomplish this, I put RH in her swing, and put on Shrek 4, and pulled out some of the girls' birthday swag.  But of course, mommy cooking is SO much more interesting than baby ogres.

And I kept dealing with the intrusions of my children by saying, "PLEASE just go play in the living room and watch Fiona while I make dinner!"

And so they did.

And this is what I imagine happened.

A condo's living room.  Cartoons play on the television, the floor is strewn with Cheerios and abandoned My Little Ponies.

What, ho! SI!  What manner of play doth thou suggest this eventide?

Methinks I know not, dear sister.  Hast thou no dreams or fancies that thou mayest perchance to impart to thine great friend and sibling?

Alas, methinks not.  Our mother, Bless and Keep her, commandeth that 'til dusk has settled o'er the moor, we must ourselves entertain.  But, alack, I find my mind doth wander through and past these frivolous games of our youth without finding cause to stop and take enjoyment.

Indeed, dear sister.  But be not afeared!  It may be so that our toys reciev'd not yet but a fortnight pass'd have already weathered the affections that could be spared for them, that we find ourselves bereft of playthings and alone with our unhappy thoughts but for the company of the wee babe in her rocker, but all hope is not yet lost!

Do tell, sweet sister, how can this be so?

Dost thou see what mine eyes behold?

Where, sister, where?  What can you see?

There, up near the window sash, naught but a yardstick's length from thee.

Tis nothing but the mantle.

And upon the mantle, dearest sister?  What dost lie upon the wood, above the fireplace, anear the chimney?

Why, tis the lacquer of our mother!  The colors most varied of orange, purple, gold and blue!  The delightful hues I long to place upon mine fingers and toes!  But what of that, dear sister?

Fetch it down for me, and I shall paint thy fingers and thy toes.

Thou jokest fearfully!  And how doth thou propose that I retrieve these treasures?  My height is nay but half that of the bookcase, and it is above that case that you propose I am to come.

Climb the case, dear sister, and you shall reach the prize.

Foolishness!  Wherefore must I scale these fearsome heights?  You must climb, sister!  You must strive and reach the top, and from thence thou must decorate mine dainty toes and nimble fingers.

Aye, I have the knowledge to accomplish this task.  I go!

SI scales the bookcase.  DD watches, apprehensively.  RH calls out to her mother that something is horribly awry, but being only three and a half months old, her cries are misunderstood for those of cheerful amusement.

Success!  I have stolen the goods!  I have purchased our freedom from this ennui!

Oh please, dear sister, please- arrange yourself beside me and adorn me with all the colors of God's rainbow.

I shall, dear sister!  And you, me!


Oh, tis a delight!  And look- my fingers glisten with the shining paint!  It drips down mine arm, and mine eyes cannot take in enough for their delight.  What else canst we decorate, dear sister?

Why, mother's couch... it seems a bit drab, does it not?  Methink a splash of glit'ry blue will bing out the shades of variance in its upholstery.

Indeed!  It is a vision!  But, nay, more still is yet require'd.  If I may, shall I apply this shade of mauve upon these cushions?  I shall!  B'the Gods, tis glorious!

It is, it is!  And now, the green and gold!  Upon these quilts, let us mark our names and write the story of our lives in this glorious paint!  We shall live forever!

Forever!  Forever and ever and all who come after will marvel at our works and say, 'Here there wast a greatness of talent, two lives lived and etched forever into this couch... and this chair... and THIS chair...

...and this rug!  And my vestments!  And thine frock!  And all that this room might hold!  And all who pass through will know that we were here, and we lived, and we found joy!

Huzzah!  but look- the child that layeth upon the swing... does not she too deserve adornment?

Indeed, dear sister, indeed.  Here- rub thine painty hands upon her bedclothes.

It is done!  Six, nay, seven bottles of paint- emptied upon the canvas of our joyless prison cell!  

But soft, dear sister.  Now this babe sleeps- perchance too overwhelmed by the joy of colors within this room.  Let us not wake her.

Indeed, dear sister, let it be so.  Let her sleep in this room, thick with the sweet perfume of our endeavor.

This is truly a glorious night!  Let us go find mother and let her share in the joy of our creation!

They know they're in trouble.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a pot full of soup that isn't soup yet.  And a loaf of something that might be bread in the evening.  And then your daughter comes to you, and for some reason, she's... purple... and she smells awful...

I went RUNNING as fast as I could.  It was a bit much to take in.

The nail polish, all over EVERYTHING.

The blankets, the furniture, the children...

The fumes, oh god, the fumes... the fumes that a room with no open windows and covered in seven bottles of nail polish can accomodate... it was practically like huffing paint thinner out of a paper bag.

The picture is nowhere near doing this sight justice.
The baby, slumped over, unconscious.

...in a haze of toxic fumes.

So I did the exact same thing I would have done if it turned out my children had come to show me zombies.

I screamed.

I screamed and screamed, as though it was blood covering my living room, and not paint.

I screamed and wept and screamed some more.  At this point, I noticed our downstairs neighbors fleeing the building.

I screamed, and jostled the sleeping baby to consciousness.  It was harder than it should have been.

This is the blanket that was on the baby.
I screamed and scrubbed nail polish off my my children.  I screamed and threw away blankets and pillows that were never going to be close to being the same as before the incident.

I screamed and screamed and put my children to bed without supper.  I opened all the windows, and I screamed and screamed and screamed some more.

And then I poured myself a glass of wine.  The last of the open bottle of Cabernet in the fridge.

And then I called my mom in London, to find out if my baby was going to die.  She said my baby was probably fine, but I should call her doctor if I was still worried.

So I drank my glass of wine, and I tried to nurse RH.  For once in her life, she just wasn't that into it.

So after a while of calming down and drinking a little more, with RH not really eating properly, I called my pediatrician.  She said that RH was probably fine, but that I should call poison control.

Kissing my monkey
I pulled out the remaining half bottle of Merlot from the fridge.

And I called poison control, and they told me that RH was probably fine, but that she should go to a hospital and get an EKG.  You know, just in case she was to start having seizures or something.

That was when M got home.  And I very, very sadly put the wine back.

And so it was that RH became our first child to make a visit to the ER.

Did you know they have baby sized hospital gowns?  WHY?  Why on earth would a baby care if she were naked?

They poked her a bit, and prodded her a bit.  She got an x-ray and an EKG, both of which she was utterly amazing for.  It probably helped that, really, she felt just fine.  I think she really enjoyed being the complete center of her parents' universe for a bit, with no big sisters competing for attention.

RH- my first child in a hospital gown
Everyone was very nice, and very impressed with how well behaved our infant was.  And I kept thinking to myself, "At least ONE of them is well behaved..."

And of course, we were there until midnight.  One of our wonderful neighbors came up and sat in our place while our big girls slept, and she passed out on our nail polish covered couch while she waited and waited for us to bring home the baby.

And in the morning, I started researching ways to get nail polish out of upholstery.

And my children?  They've been sentenced to Time Out for Life.

And I'm making a note to keep even more wine on hand.


  1. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know I should not be laughing so hard. But, the baby is OK (thank goodness). And your imagined dialogue between the twins just flat.out.killed.me. Absolutely brilliant.

  2. UhOh! Thanks so much for posting this. My twin girls are almost 3 and I have thought to buy pretty nail polish but I think I shall not. Crayons on newly painted walls are enough to bear. I loved the dialogue. Very funny mischief behavior. I could imagine a similar dialogue but for some reason each of my twins call each other "Dahhling"

  3. That conversation was so funny!!! Glad your littlest one was okay :o)

    New follower from the blog hop

  4. That dialogue was hilarious! Cheeky twins! But hopefully they have learned that the living room is not a colour book! At least it's a good story to tell them when they're older! Glad to hear the baby is ok, probably won't be the last time her sisters cover her in stuff, but hopefully something less toxic next time!

  5. I'm so glad that your little girl is ok. I hope that your furniture survives just as well. Stopping by from PYHO

  6. OMG. So glad that she was okay.

    Knowing that- I can totally giggle at the way that you told this story!

  7. Sorry about your furniture and the fact that you had to take the little one to the ER but.......LOVE the dialogue. So freaking funny!

  8. OMG!!! Thank god she is ok! The dialogue is funny, even if they are grounded for life!

  9. The dialogue was great, had me in stitches. Then I realized that I was once upon a time the one who painted the walls with nail polish and whiteout...

    And, interestingly enough, my older daughter has not gone to the ER yet but my younger daughter did at 6 months old due to hives either from a virus or from eating her first food (I'm thinking virus because she at that same food again and was fine and it was days between the food and the hives). Though, my oldest probably could have ended up in the ER due to the reaction she had to a bunny rabbit, poor thing had swollen eyes for days!

    In my family, I was six for my first trip (at least as far as I know) and it was after I had stepped on a piece of glass and cut my foot wide open. I needed seven stitches for that one and a massive cleaning of said foot which brought out screams that probably woke up the dead (walking barefoot around a BARN of all places is not a smart idea!). My younger sister took her first trip after a laundromat mishap that was entirely my fault and I'm lucky I wasn't KILLED much less put in timeout forever! She only needed one stitch though for it.

  10. Great blog! But I think you really only said "You're the worst daddy in the world!" once. That was enough, I can hear it still....

  11. I know I shouldn't be laughing during this...I have a 4 month old and I would have freaked out! But I could tell by the way you wrote it that the baby was going to be fine, so I let myself have a good giggle at your girls fun. I know my 4 year old would have done something similar. We have had a VERY long talk about mommy's nail polish over the past 4 years. So far she has yet to break the rules. I told her if she ever gets it out without an adult expressly telling her to she will never (and I mean out of my house in college never) wear nail polish in my house again! lol

  12. om my goodness!! i know i shouldn't laugh, but the proper english dialogue was beyond funny! i dread the day my child has her first ER visit... and I think it will probably be her father's fault! he thinks pauses in conversations are the perfect place for round house kicks... ugh.
    ps- thanks for stopping by the mischievous monday blog hop.



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