When the teenagers were very young, for about a year and a half, we lived on my husband’s grandmother’s property. There were all sorts of sucky things about the arrangement, and one of them was the house itself–only 1/4 of it sat on a foundation–if you dropped a baby bottle on one side, you’d find it in another room because the floors looked like an acid dream during a midnight showing of The Who’s movie Tommy. None of the doors hung plumb, and the house sat on 6 1/2 acres of fucking wilderness, so you never knew what would roll in on the frickin’ old carpet.
One day, when Chicken was about six months old and just learning to sit up, it was a tomato worm.
I was sitting next to her on the floor, dozing, because Big T had us both up at dark-thirty a.m., and I looked at her smiling face, and there was a tomato worm (ugly, green, crawly, fat and squooshy grub of my nightmares tomato-fucking-worm!!!) dangling out of my baby’s mouth.
I screamed and swatted it away, and then screeched for Mate over the sound of her confused wails. (She was just sitting there and then mama started screaming and SLAPPED her–of course she was crying!!!).
“MATE! GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE AND HELP ME!!!!” (Because I was damned if I was going to pick it up, right?)
Mate’s response? And this is very very very important to the rest of the post: “I don’t do vomit.”
My response was, “Get your ass out here or I’m gonna vomit!!!!” but that is immaterial.
What is material is that there are two things that Mate doesn’t deal with in our house–one is spiders, and the other is vomit.
Now, Mate was not always the model Mate he is now. For the first two children, getting the baby was, 90% of the time, MY JOB. I had the breasts–I had the a.m. wake-up calls. This was not really because Mate was insensitive to my need for sleep, either, and certainly not because he didn’t want to help–it was mostly because if the task called for waking up between 12:00 and 6:00 a.m., Mate was out. Wasn’t gonna do it. Completely unconcious. Nada. Zip. Zero. No dogs, no lights, nothing but a loud snore and a grunt.
Baby 3 ran a clockwork schedule and slept for six hours–he was easy. Baby 4 woke up randomly, and sometimes just for play. I started kicking (sometimes literally) Mate out of bed and making him go sit with her, and Mate started taking his ‘get up with the baby’ responsibilities a little more seriously.
This morning, it paid off for him in a huge way.
This morning, the Cave Troll sat up in OUR bed and said, “I don’t feel good.”
Then he barfed. Three times.
Mate, who, heretofore, would have woken up barfed upon, was down the hall before the first splatter hit the pillow.
I sat up and cleaned the Cave Troll off and stripped the bed and got the poor stuffed tiger ready for the wash (while the now much better Cave Troll apologized–“I”m sorry I barfed your room mom. I”m sorry I barfed my tiger, mom.” Yes, it did make it all better, why do you ask?) and Mate tried twice to come in and help me. Both times he put his hand over his mouth and ran back to the living room before we would all be sorry.
But I’m betting he’s not sorry I taught him how to get his ass out of bed before the alarm rings, is he?