The Golden Rule

Last week was not our finest hour. All five members of my household were guilty of breaking the one cardinal rule that allows us to function in relative peace and harmony. This one simple rule above all rules is that only one person at a time is allowed to be sick, have a meltdown, or be a general pain in the @$$. Last week, not just ONE, but ALL of us were sick, had meltdowns, and were general pains in the @$$es. That, my friends, is how you spell dis@$ter, cat@$trophe, fi@$co…You get the picture.

How did this happen? I blame myself. The flu had taken me down hard, and I was too sick to enforce The Rule. Under normal circumstances,  my children are so well-trained that if one child is crying and a second child starts up, (for example), I have merely to raise an eyebrow and one admonishing finger. This signals to the the second child that s/he must immediately cease and desist until the first child has stopped with the waterworks. The children almost always fall in line with alacrity. (My husband, on the other hand, is not always so docile, but we’re working on it).

Perhaps you’re thinking this is insensitive? unreasonable?

PRECISELY! I heartily concur! 

It IS insensitive and unreasonable to muscle in on someone else’s moment of misery! Am I right?!

When people don’t wait their turn to have their “moment,” it leads to scenes such as the following one, which convinced me of the necessity of instituting our version of The Golden Rule in the first place:

Years ago, I was pregnant with my third child and feeling utterly exhausted and queasy. My sons were four and three years old at the time. They would have received far better care and nurturing had I had the foresight to turn them over to be raised by a pack of wolves for the forty weeks it took to gestate baby #3. It was hard for me to do anything during that time but lie as still as possible on the couch.

One afternoon my four year old was perched upon the porcelain throne in the bathroom at the top of the stairs. He had reached the stage where he could take care of all his own toileting needs, except for when it came to the aftermath of a #2.

“MOMMY!” he hollered down to me, “WIPE ME!”

“Unnnnhh, ” I groaned as I hoisted myself into a seated position. I slowly started to make my way to the stairs. I knew immediately this was a huge mistake. I could feel myself heaving and I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

My poor, neglected three year old wandered by just then, looking like a forlorn little Linus holding his blankie. My son’s blankie was his beloved “clof,” one of many diaper cloths we had used as burp cloths for both the boys when they had been babies. Now we kept a pile just for him. He always had one clutched in his little hand, and held up to his face.  All that was visible were his big giraffe-lashed eyes following me as I made my way to the stairs.

IMG_0016I looked around for something to throw up into, but there was nothing. My eyes lit upon the cloth in my son’s hand, and I reached for it.

“Give me your cloth, quick!” I gasped.

Sensing imminent danger, his eyes widened.  “No, Mommy,” he said with alarm and he instinctively pulled himself and his cloth safely out of my reach.

“Give it to me, I’ll give you another one!” I snarled, willing the volcano to not erupt.

He pulled it away from me again as I lunged. For a few seconds I engaged in a desperate tug-of-war with my toddler over his cloth. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to overpower a completely traumatized three year old…to trample, nay vomit on all he holds sacred and dear. I managed to snatch it from him just in time.

As I retched over and over into his cloth, he became completely unhinged and started shrieking, “NO!!! Don’t spit on my ‘clof,’ Mommy!!!”

Punctuating all of this was my four year old’s voice in the background calling out incessantly, “MOMMY! WIPE ME!!”

It was as that moment that our Golden Rule was born.


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