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Home > All Fall Down(14)

All Fall Down(14)
Author: Jennifer Weiner

“What’s that?” Maybe I wasn’t objective, but Ellie was a gorgeous child. She had light-brown hair that curled in glossy ringlets, big brown eyes that tipped up at the corners and gave her a playful, secretive look, and the kind of porcelain skin that is the exclusive property of infants and children. A perfectly symmetrical spray of freckles ornamented her nose, her lips were naturally pink and curved into a Cupid’s bow, and she already showed signs of inheriting my husband’s lanky, long-limbed frame.

My daughter was delicious in the morning, I thought, as she nuzzled up next to me, and I kissed her cheek.

“What is it, sweetie?” I whispered.

“I peed in the bed,” Ellie whispered back.

“Oh, Christ.” Dave rolled himself onto the floor and leapt to his feet, with his hair sticking up in tufts on his head and the head of his penis wagging through the slit of his pajama bottoms as he examined himself for dampness.

“Dave!” I hissed, and jerked my chin toward the offending area. He tucked himself into his pajamas and stalked off toward the bathroom, while I pushed myself out of bed (twenty minutes on the treadmill? I’d still have time for that, right?) and yanked back the duvet. Ellie lay in a slowly widening stain. Her nightgown was soaked. So were the sheets underneath it, and probably the bed underneath that. I’d been meaning to find a waterproof mattress cover, but, like most of my well-intentioned domestic chores, it had been postponed and postponed again and eventually forgotten.

“Oh, God,” I breathed.

“I’m SORRY!” Ellie wailed, and began to cry.

“It’s okay, baby. Don’t worry. These things happen.” About once a week, I thought. “Ugh,” I groaned before I could stop myself. I knew you weren’t supposed to embarrass kids for having accidents. I’d read a million child-care books when I was pregnant, which was a good thing, because I barely had a spare ten seconds to read my horoscope now that I had a child, and I knew that shaming them over bodily functions was a bad idea, but seriously?

I scooped her into my arms, ignoring the clammy wetness and the smell. I wished that I’d kept her in overnight diapers, but Ellie would lift her nose and say, “Those are for BABIES,” every time I’d offered. “Honey, can you strip the bed?” I called, just as I heard the sound of the shower turning on. Of course, I thought. Because letting me wash her off in our bathroom would make it too easy, and helping with the mess would have been too kind. I carried her down the hall.

“NO! NO SHOWER! DON’T WANNA!”

“Ellie,” I said, looking her in the eye, “we have to get you clean.”

“USE WIPIES!”

Wipies were not going to cut it, I thought as I unstuck her nightgown from her belly and tugged it off over her head, then peeled off her underwear and left them in a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor. Ellie looked at them and started to cry harder. “Princess Jasmine is ALL WET!”

“It’s okay, sweetie. We’ll put her in the washing machine, and she’ll be good as new.”

Ellie was unconsoled. “I PEED ON PRINCESS JASMINE!” she sobbed. Never mind that she’d also probably soaked our mattress. Our expensive, less-than-a-year-old, pillowtop mattress.

I cannot take this. The thought rose in my head. It was instantly chased by a second thought. I know what would make it better.

“Stay right here, honey,” I said, and trotted back to the bedroom. I yanked back the top sheet, the fitted sheet, and the mattress pad. Sure enough, the mattress was soaked . . . and, before I knew it, the bottle was in my hands. Take one pill every four to six hours as needed for pain. I popped the lid, shook one pill into my hand, debated for a moment, then added a second, noticing as I did that the bottle was getting light. I’d taken one at five o’clock the night before, after Ellie had thrown a fit because the TiVo had deleted her favorite episode of Team Umizoomi, and then another one at midnight, when I couldn’t fall asleep.

In the bathroom, I scooped a mouthful of water from the sink and swallowed. Immediately, even before the pills were down my throat, I felt a sense of calm come over me, a certainty that I could handle this crisis and whatever others emerged before seven a.m. All will be well, the pills sang as they descended. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

“Here we go,” I said to Ellie. I pulled off my own evening finery—an XXL T-shirt from Franklin & Marshall College and a pair of cotton Hanes Her Way boy shorts, which I’d bought because they covered more real estate than briefs or bikinis. Maybe I could count this as a workout, I thought as I lifted my shrieking daughter and stepped under the spray.

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