(I’m in the throes of a sinus extravaganza today, so here’s something I wrote a long time ago. If you need me, I’ll be making out with a Neti pot.)
Four-thirty a.m. The house is wonderfully silent. I wake from my recurring dream in which Barry Manilow and I co-own a pasta sauce company called “Looks Like Tomatoes” and grab my nasal spray. It’s cedar season in Austin, so my body’s practically bursting with allergy medicine. Last week I even started calling myself “One Singulair Sensation,” but nobody thought it was funny, so I stopped. I drift off to sleep again, now dreaming I’m a hip hop singer named Allegra-D, when I’m jolted awake by a primal scream reminiscent of Amazon jungles and bikini waxes.
I rush into his room only to find his compact, 3-year-old body peacefully snoring on his “Heroes of Transportation”-themed sheets. (Which, sadly, don’t have pictures of toll booth workers or baggage handlers on them, only airplanes and trains. Like a 747 could reroute a suitcase from Reno to Vegas with only seconds to spare? Some frickin’ hero.) Seeing Jack’s blissfully innocent state, I groggily wonder if it was actually him I heard scream. Maybe it was something outside. A premenstrual cat, perhaps. Or a meth head with a gunshot wound. At any rate, I really don’t care. I go back to bed.
For exactly 10 seconds.
Now Jack’s shrieking louder than a contestant on “The Price Is Right” covered in fire ants. His red face, wild hair and glazed expression remind me of something, but what? Oh, right. Nick Nolte’s mug shot. Nice. Quickly trying to diffuse the situation, I rub my hands on Jack’s back and miraculously, it works. He immediately stops howling, crashes onto his bed and falls asleep. What did I just do? And why the hell didn’t I know how to do it three years ago when he was a yowling newborn? I stare in awe at my hands and decide my skin must be leaking “may-cause-drowsiness” Benadryl and the medicine seeped onto Jack. I go back to bed drunk with my new found power.
For exactly 10 seconds.
For the next two long hours, Jack and I are a bad version of shampoo bottle directions: Scream, Rub, Repeat. After withstanding his heartless torture, I’m exhausted and pretty much ready to confess to anything—-even my real weight and SAT scores. No black hood or electric nipple clamps required, man. But then at 7 a.m., Jack suddenly wakes up smiling. I stare at him morosely with bloodshot eyes and wonder when I was impregnated by Dick Cheney in order to give birth to such a child.
“Jack, sweetie,” I croak. “Why you were screaming all morning?”
“There were snakes in my bed,” he says quietly.
I chuckle. Silly, innocent children. When will they ever learn that snakes are only found on planes? Then I take a deep breath, decide to book a hotel room for myself ASAP and gently offer Jack an explanation only a child of mine could understand. “Listen, Jack—you never, ever have to worry about snakes,” I say, holding back a sneeze and reaching for the industrial box of tissues. “Because they’re all allergic to you.”
Then I furiously rub my magic hands all over his little head and hope for an early nap.