That night I couldn't wait to get my kids to sleep. As I gave my two youngest children a bath, The Hippie kept chanting, "C-A-T spells cat. C-A-T spells cat." Then she'd turn to my two-year-old boy (The Zombie Elf) and say, "What does C-A-T spell?"
"Bad guy," my boy said in a low monotone, like he was an Italian gangster. He'd say that every time because in his world everything revolves around good vs. evil--good guys and bad guys.
So, I gave them all their drinks at six and then a couple hours after, I put them to bed. The Zombie Elf got mad at me when I wouldn't give him more milk. "No. No, honey." I patted him on the head and kissed him. "I don't want you waking up all night because you have to go potty."
He folded his arms and stuck out his bottom lip. "Mama say 'no no'."
I chuckled; even when he's mad, he's cute. "Goodnight, baby," I said as I shut the door and scurried off to bed. Sometimes when the kids go to sleep, it just makes me happy inside. It's like I could conquer the world--if I had that broom I'm so good at sweeping AND whacking with.
I smiled, snuggling into my fuzzy blanket. I thought I had everything under control--I was terribly wrong.
At two o'clock in the morning I heard screaming and a tremendous racket. SOMEONE WAS IN OUR HOUSE!
The noise perched on my nerves, ready to pounce on my sanity. I sat and immediately thought of Jill's targeter. I wondered what I should do. (If you haven't read that story, Jill's a friend of mine and someone's been trying to break into her house.)
So, as I heard the painful cries of help, I realized they were from my boy. It sounded like someone was beating him with my own cookware! The water ran, and I heard slapping of liquid hitting itself. My boy screamed again, obviously terrified and it made me so mad I could have strangled the intruder! No one hurts my babies; NO ONE!
Without a second thought (and even though I didn't have my broom) I moved toward the kitchen. I didn't know what to expect, so before I turned the final corner, I gulped a huge piece of air and closed my eyes. "God, please help me be strong enough," I whispered. I imagined myself grabbing that broom and fighting better than Jackie Chan in fast forward. I actually felt kind of bad for that intruder. When he broke into our house he obviously didn't know what happens when you make a Mama mad.
But when I turned the corner, I realized I hadn't been expecting the sight before me. I gasped and covered my mouth, leaned against the wall and whimpered. Some things are too painful to understand. I'd only thought about hurting the intruder, I hadn't imagined how much pain my son might be in. That's when I screamed. My scream echoed up and around my house; I'm sure it traveled down the block. I wonder if it reminded anyone of Wesley's scream in the Princess Bride because it was the sound of true agony.
On the floor rested, all my pans, all my cooking utensils, a bunch of broken eggs, a pickle jar that was LUCKILY still intact. But what made me scream more than anything was The Zombie Elf! He wore nothing more than a diaper and sat in the middle of A POOL OF MILK! I hadn't heard running water! I'd heard the sound of him dumping an entire gallon of milk onto the mess in the kitchen. He smeared eggs and milk together. Mixed them up in pans.
He saw me and his eyes went wide with true fear. He screamed with me then, wailing like a villain who's about to start a life-sentence. Then he held the empty gallon of milk up to his dirty lips and as one little drip entered his mouth, I saw the fury build again. "IIII WAAANT MIIIILK!"
I grabbed him and we glared at each other. That kid had scared the crap out of me. I'd been ready to wield my broom and poke someone in the E-Y-E. I'd risked my sanity--for a little turkey-turd!
So, he did get a bath AND a spankin'. I put him to bed without any milk; I figured he'd had enough for one night considering the jug still rested empty on the kitchen floor. I knew it would take forever to clean that mess. Milk had seeped into all the kitchen rugs, some liquid even ran under the fridge.
As I put the Zombie Elf to sleep, he turned and asked, "Mama? Am I bad guy?"
"No . . . " I tucked the blanket under his tiny feet and pushed the blanket around his shoulders and tummy. "No, but that wasn't nice. Now I get to stay up and clean. We're going to have the cleanest floor in the neighborhood . . . because of you!" At the moment, I didn't think that was something to be proud of. I didn't want a clean floor. I wanted a good night sleep--for once! Then I looked at him and asked the one question which practically killed me. "Why? Why! did you do this to me?"
He turned to his side, closed his eyes and whispered, "'Cause Mama say 'no no'."
That turkey! When I cleaned up the mess, I did have to laugh at one point. "Mama say 'no no'," I chuckled. The picture of him sitting amidst that mess, the empty gallon resting on his dirty lips. That boy plays a symphony with my heart strings--even when he's naughty.
After he fell asleep, I tip-toed into his room and hugged him extra hard because he always reminds me of how happy I am he's healthy. I lost a boy once and no matter how much crap happens, I'm just glad my other kids are healthy. They might not always be the best kids, or the most well-behaved, but they're mine and I love them. Even when they throw worms in people's hair, show up tardy forty-one times and break into my kitchen, I'm just glad they're still here!
So with that being said, my boy is really a Zombie Elf. It's because he's the best kind of Zombie, the merry kind Santa would approve of, the kind that makes me laugh even in the worst of times.