A plague on your house
It’s been some time since we checked in on America’s Worst Mother™ and it’s probably a good thing we haven’t been around since we’re not too good with a mop and bucket. It seems that Meghan and the kids (Bushnell, Myopia-Ann, Hummus, and Polyp) have been ‘delivering pizza’, if you know what I mean…
â€œWinter Bug Unleashes its Misery,â€ it said. â€œProtracted Vomiting Torments Sufferers.â€ The first paragraph warned easily nauseated readers to read no further, and being somewhat delicate these days, I obeyed, but not before catching sight of the name of the croup de jour: Winter Vomiting Disease.
I should have paid attention. Like King Belshazzar, when the mysterious Hand began writing on the wall of his feast hall, my color should have changed, my thoughts should have alarmed me; my limbs should have given way, and my knees knocked together. But such is my blithe, Panglossian nature that I gave it no further thought
(Cue music from Jaws)
Late that night I struggle from a deep sleep to hear a tumult upstairs. I stagger up to find Phoebe cheerfully dancing about on the landing, and my husband holding his breath while he strips her bed. It is 3am, and she has disgorged her supper all over the bedclothes.
When you become a mother â€” and I expect it is similar for fathers â€” your find that your circuitry has been marvelously re-mapped, your software dramatically updated, and situations which hitherto would have caused you to flap your hands fastidiously and emit little “Ew’s!” instead bring out throbbing maternal sympathy.
“I’m afraid to sleep in my nursery without Phoebe to protect me!” So down she comes, too. Four in the bed, and cosy as all get-out, yet hanging over us, unread in the darkness, is that writing on the wall, the awful retribution of the Tarot card…
Phoebe folds herself around me, then turns and embraces Violet, then leans over and gives my husband a big wet smack on the lips. Violet makes tiny marsupial noises as she snuggles her lamb fleece. The adoration of Phoebe goes on. She sits up, and strokes my hair. She hunkers down, and breathes in my ear. I am just saying, “Darling, settle down now, we really need to â€”
Ralph Steadman: Artist!
Ralph Cramden: Sit-com character!
Ralph Feinnes: Actor!
Phoebe Gurdon: Ralph!
Some minutes later, my husband walks heavily downstairs with a second armful of ghastly sheets. Persons are scrubbed, beds remade, sighs exchanged, and lights go out. A day and another night passes. Again the household is settled into silence and oblivion, when â€”
“Aw, Daddy, yuck,” I hear Paris shout from upstairs over the sound of running water.
“Shhh, don’t wake the others,” says my husband, and I hear the thud of the linen door shutting.
“It went all over â€” “
“Keep your voice down, darling.”
“But I didn’t make a mess, did I Daddy?” comes Violet’s voice.
I struggle out from the heavy bedclothes, find a bathrobe, and go up the stairs into the glare of the bathroom light. It is 3 A.M., the ralphing hour, and the household has just experienced its first bona fide simul-barf â€” Paris in his bed and Violet, in the nick of time, appropriately in the bathroom.
Okay. Recurring theme here. We notice that Meghan, when she is not being puked upon, is always somewhere else and oblivious to her own kids tie-dying the linens, and it is Mr. Meghan who is first to the rescue. We imagine Meghan hearing this from kids rooms:
bleaghhhh!!-cough-cough, bluke bluke, mangalalang…hack…smeaagghhh, guckert, guckert-cough…ick, Muuuummmmmy!
…which Meghan hears and then proceeds to increase the volume of her deep breathing, throwing in an occassional light snore, to make Mr. Meghan think that she’s in a deep sleep. Mr. Meghan, rueing the day he left gay lover, Administrative Assistant Phil, to return home for appearance’s sake then gets up and does the scut work. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve never known a mother who didn’t hear the softest ‘urp‘ from a sleeping child and not wonder if they were okay. Which is, yet, another reason why we call her America’s Worst Mother™ and come back week after a week to read, scratch our heads, and maybe throw up just a little in our mouths…which our mother can hear from three states away.