-3. E had a cough most of last week, and so
-2. for the first time ever, I deployed Vicks Va-po-rub on one of our children. We used it for several nights last week, and
-1. I grew complacent, which everyone knows is in violation of the First Rule of Parenting.
0. I left the rub tub on her bookshelf.
1. L kicked her sister this evening, and
2. I called out to the lovely husband who was trying to get the baby to sleep that he should just take L immediately to bed, and I would get the baby to sleep.
3. He confiscated the first floor of the house from L and retired her to her room
4. while I sent E upstairs to get herself ready for sleep while I tried to get the baby to sleep in his little baby papasan in the living room.
5. I spent about fifteen minutes with the baby and went upstairs to be greeted by E,
6. who came out of her room with a worried expression, no pajamas or any other clothes, either, and the words Mommy, I did a bad thing.
(6a. E, who it should be noted is 4 years, 3 months and 3 days old, was sent upstairs by herself with the same instructions she receives and generally follows every night: "pull-up, pajamas, brush teeth, and you can read books in bed until I get there.")
7. I asked her, "what did you do?" even as I saw that
8. she had inexplicably Vap-o-rubbed herself, not only on her chest and her back, but also her thighs, upper and lower arms, and in a perfect triangle on her nose like a lifeguard's zinc oxide.
9. "Why????????????????????????" I asked her, with just that many question marks in my voice, and she answered honestly, I don't know.
(9a. Because obviously she was possessed by demons and not in control of her own faculties or movements, right?)
10. I lifted her and held her away from me as I carried her to the bathroom, where I set her on the stool.
11. I turned on the water, pumped generous soap into her hands, and told her to start washing
12. while I used washcloths to scrape as much Va-po-rub off of her as I could
13. and worried that she'd rub some in her eyes in her sleep.
14. I threw goopy washcloth after goopy washcloth into the laundry hamper in the hallway and when we thought we'd done what we could,
15. I carried E back into her bedroom and had her don some long-sleeved, long-pantsed loose-fitting PJs.
16. But the extra is going to feel like pee-pee drips when it touches the clothes! she said,
17. which I thought was an accurate if upsetting description, but I explained about not wanting to leave bare skin exposed so that she wouldn't rub any on her face and in her eyes,
18. so begrudgingly she leaned on me to step into the long pants she does not favor sleeping in, and
19. left a perfect petrolatum handprint on the shoulder of my shirt.
(19a. And in the midst of my shirt- and general goo-situation consternation I don't remember if I had her put a pull-up on before those pants, or not.)
20. I sent her back into the bathroom to brush her teeth,
21. which her sister heard, even though she was already nearly asleep in the dark in her own room, and
22. so suddenly L appeared in the bathroom doorway, announcing she hadn't brushed her teeth.
23. E finished brushing her teeth and
24. we soaped her hands a little more and
25. I grabbed yet another washcloth and wiped her as thoroughly as can be, coming up with good chunks of goo in the webbing of her fingers,
26. and finally I threw that washcloth in the laundry hamper, as well.
27. L noticed the unusual hand-drying technique and screamed I want that washcloth!
28. and grabbed the gooey cloth out of the hamper and dried her hands on it, thereby gooing herself.
29. So the lovely husband had to force her to wash her hands because of how she had dried her hands.
30. But we finally got all three children sleeping,
31. whereupon I pressed the backs of my hands against my eyes
32. and guess what I rubbed in them.
(Or if you'd like the Cliff's Notes version)
1. My eyes are watering, which I suppose is just preface to when I go upstairs
2. because the upstairs of our house smells like an old man who smokes a pack of menthols a day
3. but I doubt anybody will cough tonight
4. but I can probably look forward to E wetting her bed tonight
5. and then taking off her wet stuff and crawling into our bed
6. and transfer Va-po-rubbing my knees.
And the mommy learned, once again, the hard way:
complacency is the enemy.