It is a rainy Friday morning, and I have spent the last twelve hours waiting for Owen to throw up.
He woke up from his nap the day before with a pretty high fever, and now I am playing vomit roullette as to where he would strike first..in his bed? on the couch? all over the carpet? It is, of course, the perfect time for him (and subsequently the rest of us) to be sick because we have house guests – Eric’s brother David and his wife Julia – sleeping upstairs, with more coming in a day or two, plus a family reuinion to travel to later the next week.
The definition of listless, Owen is sitting on the couch with his beloved monkey, as Daniel Tiger sings, over and over, that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Elsa is fed, and I have literally just poured my coffee when he starts to cry.
I run over to the couch, and last night’s milk is all over him, the monkey, and the cushion he’s on. I gag briefly as I enter into that special moment of realizing that I am the one who has to clean this up.
He is crying as I pull him off the couch, and I am mentally calculating just how much vomit is sinking into the couch cushion as I rip his shirt off and run to get him some water. Owen is briefly pacified, so I turn to the couch to rip off the cover. I get the front corner removed and then move the couch a few inches away from the wall to do the back corner.
That’s when I see it.
The. biggest. bug. I have ever seen.
Black, silent and terrifying. Perched on the wall just behind the vomit couch. I audibly gasp and retreat two giant steps away from the couch. I am frozen and suddenly aware that I’m not breathing.
I force myself to take deep breaths. I have to kill this thing. Eric is already at work, and I cannot have this beast loose in my house. At this point, Owen, still covered in vomit, begins to cry again.
I glance back at the bug, who is not moving, and briefly consider calling Animal Control because surely, this has to be some person’s sick idea of a pet, who has now escaped and found refuge in our living room. But first, Owen.
I get a bath ready for Owen and place him in there. He has calmed down and is momentarily okay. Elsa, ever calm, sits in the bumbo with some toys. I grab exactly twenty-three paper towels and head back towards the couch. The bug is still sitting there. Silent. Plotting. I take more deep breaths.
And that is when I realize that I cannot kill this thing. My capacity for motherhood is spent: my child is sick, the entire house smells like vomit, I still have not had even one sip of coffee, and I have and always have had a phobia of insects. I cannot kill this bug.
So, I quietly run upstairs. Outside of David and Julia’s room, I hesitate.
This is ridiculous, I tell myself. Do not wake up David. You can do this….
I walk into the room. They are both sound asleep. I shake David gently…then more urgently…David…David…I need you to wake up. David is justifiably confused. David…I need you to come downstairs and help me. Then, so he didn’t think someone was unconscious, I added, I need you to kill a bug for me. It’s huge…It’s literally the biggest bug I’ve ever seen.
And then David, to his credit, sits up and mumbles, “I’ll be down in a minute.”
I race down the stairs to check on things:
Owen: slowly running his fingers through the bath bubbles.
Elsa: somehow also still happy.
The bug: still on the wall.
Moments later, David comes down the stairs, and I show him the bug, quickly handing him the pom-pom of paper towels. David, silent for a moment, studies the bug, squinting and finally asks, “Is that one of Owen’s toy bugs?”
I assure him that no, we do not have any fake bugs that big, as we both still stand several feet away.
He again makes the suggestion that the bug is not real, yet continues to hesitate to touch it.
At this point, Julia stumbles down the stairs. We quickly fill her in on our debate as she puts on her glasses. I continue to tell them that none of our pretend bugs are the big and to look! look at the way the bug is clearly On. The. Wall.
Finally, one of us has the sense to turn on the overhead living room light. And at that moment, we see a glossy sheen reflecting off of what is definitely a plastic bug. The bug had gotten smooshed between the couch and our textured stucco walls, causing it to stick to the wall and appear to be crawling, its flattened body looking even larger with the dim-morning shadow it was casting.
The definition of sheepish, I turn to David: I am so sorry. I am literally the worst.
We laugh. I get Owen out of the bath and started on some pedialite. We take pictures to text to Eric. And I reheat my coffee.