The Craziest Morning Ever. (So Far)
The morning that will forever be remembered in the annals of Wise Family Legend as The Craziest Morning Ever (So Far) began innocently enough. I’d awoken, shivering, around 4:30, which isn’t that unusual because I married an unrepentant blanket thief. Grudgingly, I climbed out of bed knowing to fight the insomnia was pointless. So, I boiled the water and ground the beans and settled in for a couple hours of reading, reflection, and really good coffee. When at last the upstairs alarm clock began its klaxon call to consciousness, I figured I had a few more minutes to myself before the daily circus began.
Mornings around here are, I suspect, pretty typical of the modern family where children outnumber their parents. The cooking of breakfast and prepping of lunch. The lost shoes and unfinished homework. The brushing of teeth and combing of hair. The petty quarrels and calm admonitions. The escalating volume and tone as parental pleadings turn into commands as the clock plods inexorably towards Go Time. It all begins though with the jarring clang of the alarm clock followed swiftly by clambering, leaping, and bounding as the four contestants vie for the coveted position of “First!” as he or she touches the doorknob signaling to the rest of the field that he or she is indeed the first one ready for the day.
On this day, for some tacit reason, the race wasn’t on. It was a Monday after all, and I suspect no one had the stomach for it. As they dreamt of and longed for the halcyon days of the weekend dead and buried, the alarm clock elicited only a lukewarm response from the slumberers. Finally, someone quietly shuffled over to it, turned it off, and climbed back into the embrace of a warm, puffy comforter and a menagerie of cuddly, stuffed animal friends. While a rare occurrence, this does happen occasionally, and when it does it becomes my task to rouse the sleepyheads from their slumber.
My approach is not a gentle one. I fling the door wide, throw the lights on bright, and sing, “GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING! WAKE UP, YOU HEATHEN BEASTS!” Then I tickle them mercilessly. Ribs, feet, armpits, that spot just above the knee. I give a good thrashing to whatever squirming ticklish bits I can reach. It’s loads of fun. However, the first kid The Tickle Monster descended on this day had some sort of goo leaking from the left side of his head. The Tickle Monster froze.
“Did you vomit?!”, I winced?
Not vomit, but what? The kid still hadn’t moved. Was he dead?
“Oh my God! Is it brains?!” I cringed, nearly vomiting.
Covering my nose and mouth with one hand, I tentatively reached the other toward the not-vomit-but-possibly-brains and as I touched the shiny surface of the puddle oozing from below my poor son’s head, realization struck.
“Oh! Whew! Just the quadruple dose of Silly Putty we mashed together and played with yesterday. No big deal.” thought I.
Now, don’t anyone let on to my wife and kids that I’ve admitted to this, but there have been times when I’ve been wrong. In fact, if I’m completely honest, on occasion I’ve been monumentally, mind-bendingly, painfully wrong. This was one of those times. To say that Silly Putty and human hair make a decent combination would be like saying, “Boy, those burpees were fun!” or, “My, what a delicious beet this is!” Silly Putty, having the depilatory properties of industrial strength salon wax should be sold exclusively to sadistic estheticians and alopecia sufferers. Even then it should come with a frank warning.
I once saw a picture of a tree that had swallowed a bicycle. Then I did a google image search for “trees eating things” and spent the next half hour being blown away by all the things trees eat. Bicycles, of course. Signs and fences are fairly common tree fare, it seems. But, left alone long enough, trees have been known to exhibit an appetite for a shockingly wide variety of items: motorcycles, hand grenades, at least one rifle that I saw, several park benches, a truck, and, irreverently, a head stone, among other things. When a tree eats something it does so slowly, as one might expect. It doesn’t eat it like you or I or a lion eats something, mainly because a tree doesn’t have a mouth. And because a tree doesn’t have a mouth, it can’t nom-nom-nom its blissful way to a full belly. Rather, a tree fuses with its meal, sucking it in, ingesting it whole, macabrely oozing around it like… like putty.
My son, in his predicament, reminded me of something being eaten by a tree. Instead of a tree though, he looked for all the world as if he were being eaten by his bed. His bed with its swollen Silly Putty tongue was slurping him down into the unknown depths below. As he awoke and tried to raise his head, the realization that something was dreadfully wrong dawned, and a quiet, wide-eyed panic crept like a shadow across the half of his face that wasn’t gripped tightly by pillow and bed. He was terrified.
I was laughing. But when I tried to pry his head up and he yelped, I became worried. He was stuck. Really stuck. My first thought was scissors, of course, and if I were a single dad I’d have begun hacking away immediately. However, mommies seem to have an emotional attachment to their children’s hair almost as strong as the physical one the children have. So after a quick “What-Would-Mommy-Do”, I knew if I cut the matted mess I would have an even bigger problem on my hands. I first slid my hands under the pillow and detached it from the sheet it was clinging to. I had the boy sit up and I gently slid the pillow from the pillowcase. All the while the poor child whimpered and moaned, and I don’t blame him considering at least 30% of his hair was glued to said pillowcase. It had to hurt.
He stood and began walking down stairs with the pillowcase dangling from the side of his head like a large and neglected Rastafarian hairdo. My immediate inclination was to break out my phone and begin snapping photos, but again, I thought WWMD, and I am sorry to report there are no photos. Instead of providing his future groomsman with priceless rehearsal dinner roasting ammunition, I put the phone away and presented the knucklehead to his mother because mommies are the best at bringing order out of chaos.
A quick Google search had us digging around for mineral oil and a fine-toothed comb, and for the next 45 minutes, we took turns addressing the usual morning juggling act as well as the new unwelcome task of Silly Putty removal. We began by greasing up the entire mass of goo, hair and pillowcase until it had the same basic consistency of the contents of a McDonald’s grease trap and began teasing the pillowcase out. That done we combed and combed and combed and combed….. and combed, added in oil as necessary and combing some more. The Silly Putty actually came out fairly easily once we had achieved a 50/50 hair to mineral oil ratio. At first, that is.
Initially, great chunks of Silly Putty came out and it actually seemed to attract itself to itself like a bizarre goo magnet. But then, the fun really began. With most of the Silly Putty out all that was left were about a bajillion tiny little chunks that refused to go down without a fight. Imagine a big mass of hair, oil, and little pink maggots, and you’re in the picture. It was repulsive.
Finally, after much toil, cursing under my breath, and four shampooings, we had achieved something like success. Which is a less disappointing way of saying we gave up. By this time it was already ten after eight in the morning, and the kids were late for school. We stuffed some breakfast down Sticky Head’s gullet, got him dressed, and herded the crew out the door, leaving mommy at home to try to cope with the aftermath.
It was definitely one for the books; one the craziest parenting acts we’ve been called on to perform, and one I hope we never forget or repeat. Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering, Silly Putty in the hair does not constitute an excused tardy at Tanglewood Elementary. At least I tried.