My maiden name is Donovan, a traditional Irish name meaning Dark Warrior. Any person to witness the way I obtain additional pieces of cake at a wedding reception can attest to the aptness of this name. While my brother may be the one who became a Navy SEAL, I’d argue that I taught him all he knows when it comes to stealth, speed, and cunning. I was the one who cut lunch every day by forging parental notes my own parents believed they wrote. I was the one who could coat a crush’s house in toilet paper without being considered a suspect. I was the one who could dupe a Taco Bell employee into believing I filled my free cup with water instead of Hawaiian Punch — granted, he might have been mentally impaired. The only reason I’m not a Navy SEAL today is because they’re not presently admitting women. And because I hate cold water, can only run for 45 seconds, and require lodging in a Marriott over barracks.
If I was the equivalent of a top recruit in high school, I’ve risen through the ranks to Admiral since having children. I slip spinach into brownies that go completely undetected. I coax an obstinate child to use a public toilet they believe will swallow them. With a wave of ninja smoke, I disappear from the Montessori classroom after drop off. I don’t need to waterboard them to extract confessions as to who peed on the floor or broke a picture frame, although I would if the information wasn’t supplied readily. And if I need to transport Prisoners of War from one cell to another, I can get them bound in car seats and gagged with fruit snacks in short order.
As any good Admiral does, I have been studying the techniques of my lower officer. While my husband may not have the breeding I have to be a high caliber special operative since his Polish surname carries the more delicate connotation of Glad To Be Home, I expected more from a college baseball player. Running bases may not compare to braving the atrocities of war, but I demand more from an athlete. Raising children requires the agility of a jungle cat, the speed of a Nascar driver, and the powers of deception mastered by Milli Vanilli. It also comes with a Presidential air of ‘I’m the decider.’ My recruit is lacking these traits. He is fooled into providing sugary treats, delaying bedtime, and forgoing baths in every battle.
Perhaps his gravest shortcoming, though, is his inability to move as only a vampire would around the house once it’s lights out for the garrison. A mother understands that when the kids have fallen asleep it is time to let loose, but that party only happens in the mind. The relaxation, the release, the dead-eyed staring at TV you condemn in their presence is the celebration. This occurs silently or with Morse Code so as not to stir the creatures who will fail to be cute for another 8 to 10 more hours. My husband does not understand that even though the enemies rest, they are eternally alert and ready to bear arms. The man walks around the house more loudly than Richard Simmons sweats to the oldies. I know to walk barefoot or army crawl if the situation demands. I’d sooner insert a catheter into my own bladder before I’d acquiesce to using the upstairs bathroom.
The differences in our military training became tragically clear the other night when our youngest woke up in the dead of the night, screaming, “The Germans are coming!” Or something like that. I sent him in to quiet the ruckus since a different child was passed out on top of me like a soldier collapsed upon barbed wire.
I commanded with authority, “Get in, get out. Lay her down. Give her the lamb. Pull her blankets around her. Slip right back out the door. Do not make eye contact. Do not communicate.”
He nodded blearily as he stumbled out the door although I’m certain I saw the silhouette of his middle finger in the moonlight. His version of the battle plan went a little like the bombing of Pearl Harbor:
Booming steps down the hall…collision with the vacuum cleaner…”Crap!”…more booming steps…collapsed baby gate…”What the?!”….Duplo to the foot…soldier down…”My foot is broken”…Fall upon a musical toy…The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round, Round and Round…door kicked open…light turned on (mortal mistake)…rummage while child screams…”It’s alright, baby, I just need to find this stupid, worthless lamb…”
Then all went quiet. The lights went dark. The house was still. While I suspected he and the child were dead in the crib, I applied war paint under my eyes and choppered myself into the baby’s room. As I descended the cord for my high angle rescue, I saw the encampment was abandoned. Officer, soldier, and lamb AWOL.
I rounded corners and scaled walls to secure the fortress from my sniper location. I approached the guest bedroom slowly, awaiting a massacre, with my sippy cup locked and loaded. I slid through the doorway and scanned the room with my night vision headgear.
There I saw the Officer sleeping with the enemy. And her lamb.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the Midcoast where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog “I’m Gonna Kill Him.” Follow her misadventures at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.