Friday, August 15, 2008

The Great Hoot Debacle of '08

Catastrophe at home last night. A. Big. F'ing. Deal. All caused by me. Shit.

Let's back the truck up and tell the backstory, shall we?

Wednesday night, Beans, Tiff, and Joey came over to play and have dinner. Zozer played in the library with Joe before we all went out to enjoy the fine (and unusual) August weather on the patio. When 7:15 rolled around, I threw her in the tub and got her ready for bed.

We couldn't find Hoot. She's on Hoot #4 presently, although he's getting close to going on the DL for a bit. Anyway, Wednesday night I couldn't even remember if she had brought Hoot home from Grandpa's that day, and after a fruitless search, we gave up the hunt. I retrieved Hoot #3 from our hidden stash and she went to bed happy. I made a mental note to call Grandpa and see if he still had Hoot the next day, which I did, then promptly forgot after he reassured me that Hoot had indeed come home with Zoe. (Can you see where this is going? It's called foreshadowing, people.)

Last night, after picking her up from Grandma's, we came home and Zoe asked to play in the library while I cooked dinner, which is utterly normal. What happened next was not.

I had just pulled all the food from the fridge when I heard a blood-curdling shriek from the library. I swear my hair stood on end. Then I heard the words I've been dreading for two years now.

"Mommy! There are two Hooties!"

My entire abdomen twisted and curled in on itself, which, in case you've never experienced it, is so not a good feeling. All I could think was, "Oh my God, what have I done?"

She came running into the kitchen, still clutching #3, tears streaming down her little face, in sheer panic mode. "There are two Hoots! There are two Hoots!"

I could see the gears in her head spinning at super-nuclear speed and knew we were headed straight for a meltdown. Her eyes were full of questions: "How can this be? My most beloved, cherished possession. My best friend. My Hoot. Two of them?! What in the hell is going on?"

I snatched #3 from her and said, "Show me." When she turned to walk back to the library, I unceremoniously stuffed #3 behind the blender and Mixmaster. Not the best place, but I was also sinking into panic mode and trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to fix this for my little girl.

We went into the library, and she pointed at #4, still safe in his hiding place. She didn't even want to touch him. Was he an imposter? How could there be two? I picked him up and tried to calm her down, and we talked. Then we went back to the kitchen to "look" for the other one, where I fervently prayed that her 3-year-old height wouldn't be tall enough to allow her to see the bit of brown fuzz poking up from behind the blender.

She was totally confused at this point, and still crying, so I got her back in the library (far less chance of her spotting #3 in there) and we talked some more.

Then I did what I'm sure every parent has done at some point or another through the ages, although it damn near killed me to do it. I lied to my child. I told her, "Remember how sometimes you wake up at night and you cry because you had a bad dream? This is like that. Everything is fine. There's only one Hoot." I held her and we talked and we just did that for 20 minutes. Slowly, she calmed down and, although she was still questioning, seemed to go with the dream story.

Thankfully, by bedtime, all was right in the world again. About every 10 minutes she'd eye Hoot suspiciously and sometimes say, "Only one Hoot," but she was, for the most part, fine. #3 returned to the minors and #4 resumed his spot by Zozer's side in bed.

Mommy, on the other hand, called her husband in Vegas, dissolved into tears, and then mentally kicked her own ass for the rest of the night. Every so often, Zoe's scream and the words, "Mommy! There are two Hooties!" would play in my head, and I'd instinctively bring both hands up to my face and cringe. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep.

So, what was overall an exhausting and generally shitty day, devolved into that. I told M he's never allowed to go out of town again. He just laughed at me, and then told me he had relayed the entire story to all the guys he was at the bar with last night. Great, so there's a gaggle of drunken men in Vegas who know what a horrible mother I am.

And now, so do all of you.


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