The players: Myself, my wife, my six-year-old daughter, three-year-old son, one-year-old son, a king-size bed, a queen-size bed, two twin beds, three bedrooms, a couch, a wiener dog named Bubby, and a virus. We'll call it Mr. Vomit.
The scene: A regular, ordinary Tuesday night in our home.
7:52 p.m.: Our youngest son goes to sleep in his twin bed.
8:39 p.m.: Our two other children go to bed - our daughter in her queen bed; our three-year-old son in his twin bed in the bedroom he shares with his brother.
11:01 p.m.: My wife and I lie down for nod in our king-size bed.
11:03 p.m.: My wife is awakened by the sound of loud hacking coming from our sons' bedroom. Upon inspection, she finds that our youngest son has coughed up his dinner, his lunch, and four of the tiny soaps that used to be in the bathroom.
My wife cleans him up, changes the sheets, and then lies down next to him to calm him down. After a while, they both fall asleep in his bed.
12:09 a.m.: Our daughter, as is her custom, sneaks out of her room and stealthily slithers under our bed's sheets.
1:19 a.m.: Our youngest son has another vomiting episode, this time throwing up on himself, my wife and all over his bed. They change clothes and both squeeze into our king bed.
1:52 a.m.: My wife is awakened by the cries of our three-year-old son. She finds him sitting upright in his bed with a perfect circle of vomit in the epicenter of his bed. She scoops him up and brings him to our bed, where now five humans have accumulated.
2:13 a.m.: As is my custom, I awaken in the middle of the night with a child's foot in my ear. Oblivious to the previous events, I pick up our three-year-old son, carry him to his bed and plop him down - right in the middle of his puddle of puke.
I trudge to the bathroom, where I clean him up, then we head to his sister's empty, barf-less bed.
3:41 a.m.: Our youngest son wakes up and coughs up another stream, miring half of our bed in stench. A quick check of the remaining sleeping areas finds them either soaked with spew or occupied. My wife considers changing sheets again, but she's too exhausted. She leaves our sleeping daughter on the clean side of our bed and heads to the couch in the living room, where she, our youngest son, and Bubby the wiener dog cuddle up to snooze.
4:14 a.m.: Our youngest son strikes again, hitting the couch and its environs. Bubby quickly begins feasting on my son's retched refuse, which, as is her custom, prompted my wife to hurl. Bubby found that appetizing as well, which produced even more gagging.
After locking Bubby out of the house, perhaps with a drop-kick, my wife goes back to our bedroom, where she looks and looks for clean fitted sheets. She can't find any, so she wakes up our daughter, takes off the half-clean sheet and puts a series of twin sheets on the bed. Then she, our daughter, and our youngest son go to sleep there.
5:29 a.m.: I awake to find my son's mug about half an inch from my face.
"Daddy, is the world a ball?"
His breath smelled of Cheez-Its and bile.
"Daddy, I threw up again," he said matter-of-factly. I looked down. Between us oozed a river of regurgitation.
We got out of bed, surveyed the available accommodations, and determined that squeezing in the muddled king-size bed was our best bet.
6:05 a.m.: Sun comes up, and with it, as is their custom, both of our sons. I awake to find my three-year-old son's face about half an inch from my face, his brother gleefully bouncing on the edge of our bed.
"Daddy, where does the moon go during the day?"
"To sleep," I groaned.
It wasn't over.
That night: Same story, different players, as is Mr. Vomit's custom.
- Len Robbins is the editor/publisher of The Clinch County News.