Would you like to know what happens when you have a mother with the flu, a father who's watching three rambunctious babies (puppy included), and two older girls who are playing alone--quieter than they should be? Well, I'm going to tell you!
I heard the bath water running shortly after the girls got home from school. They talked about tadpoles and puppies; joy laced their voices. Normally I would have wondered what was going on with the bathwater, but I had a fever, and just then I couldn't stop hugging the toilet in the other room.
So, I put a wet washcloth on the back of my neck and rested in bed again. I did wonder how Cade was doing though. I kept hearing wild noises from the basement. It sounded like some tribal tradition where two babies and a dog decide to sacrifice their father at the stake. I pictured poor Cade, tied up and vulnerable because of cute hooligans.
My ears perked completely, but as I listened, I no longer heard The Scribe or The Hippie in the mix.
That had to be bad news.
I grabbed a garbage can and sneaked from the room. My bathrobe stayed tight around my neck as I rounded a corner to the other bathroom.
When I opened the door, The Scribe and The Hippie ran past, leaving me alone in a bathroom which smelled like pond water.
I had an inkling of what happened then.
Do you remember the day before this--how we caught tadpoles and then bought a dog? Well, the tadpoles had been forgotten amongst the other excitements. At least I thought they'd been forgotten.
I inched closer to the bath curtain which usually isn't closed. I shook as my pale hand tugged at the fabric--that's when I screamed. Six tadpoles swam in the bathtub water.
"Scribe! Hippie!" I yelled.
"What? What's wrong?" Cade came in first.
I pointed to the bathtub and our new puppy smiled happily by our feet. Dogs must love tadpoles!
Anyway, the babies came in after that. They clapped, cheered and cooed.
"Look. Look, Mama," The Zombie Elf said.
I shook my head. "Hippie! Scribe!"
My girls sauntered closer. "What were you thinking?" I asked, then turned to the jury of babies next to me, since we'd all crowded into the bathroom. But that jury was far too empathetic. They would have let any convict skate free!
"We didn't have a five gallon bucket," The Scribe said. "What were we supposed to do?"
"But you would have said 'no'."
I held my breath. My eyes turned to lasers.
"We'll get them out," The Hippie said quickly, saving the day.
I looked at the jury. "What do you think?" I asked The Zombie Elf.
"Pull the plug?" he asked.
"No, that's mean." I turned to Doctor Jones, the ultimate authority. "Should we catch them?"
Then that Buddha baby, that little Goddess nodded in agreement. The time had come for us to get the tadpoles out.
So, Cade took Doctor Jones and the puppy from the room. The Zombie Elf (my three-year-old), The Scribe, The Hippie and I stayed to hunt tadpoles . . . again.
Have you ever hunted tadpoles in your very own bathroom? It's quite the feeling, really. I had to leave a couple times since my food kept flying round trip. Would it hurt the stuff to stay at its original destination FOR TWO SECONDS?
When I came back into the bathroom the girls were really struggling to catch the last two tadpoles. The Zombie Elf stood on the toilet and screamed, "Yes. Yes! YES!" That kid will make one heck of a superintendent.
My girls had put the other tadpoles in a big jar. They beamed triumphantly after catching the last two.
We cheered and clapped. My face didn't even seem as pale as it had before.
"So what are we going to do with the tadpoles?" The Scribe asked. "Set them free in the pond?"
We turned to look at the jar, but instead of seeing tadpoles swimming happily, we saw The Zombie Elf.
He sat on the counter by the sink. His chubby hand held an empty jar. He simply chuckled, but my heart fell.
Six tadpoles died that day. Six valiant tadpoles who went from a pond to a jar, from a jar to a tub, and then from a jar to a sink (in case you needed a play-by-play).
The Zombie Elf set the jar down and clapped.
I got nauseous again--it was all too much. So, I trudged back into my room, shut the door and went to sleep.
Too bad I kept dreaming about frogs.