Halfway through the October holidays, heaven and earth somehow moved. The boys were in bed, Reina was at a sleepover, and we had no meetings or deadlines to worry about. As my wife Savvy and I pondered what to do with our evening, we spotted the pile of DVDs gathering dust under our TV. Perhaps just once this year, we could start a movie and finish it on the same night. Together. We settled on a film and pushed “play.”
Our selection for the evening was Jack Reacher, a film starring Tom Cruise. Savvy and I both felt like we needed a little action/adventure in our lives, since raising 1-year-old twins and a first-grader was proving to be an uneventful experience. As luck would have it, the film was all right; I’d give it three stars out of five.
However, the most notable part was actually finishing the movie. We marveled at our luck; the boys didn’t cry once and no phone call came informing us that Reina wanted to come home early from her sleepover. Operation “Movie Night” was a success. We brushed our teeth, bid each other good night, and crashed blissfully in our bed to get at least five or – dare we dream? – six hours of sleep before the boys woke up in the morning. Alas, it was not to be.
At 2am, I rocketed out of bed when Bryson started screaming. I rushed into the nursery thinking he needed a change of diaper, only to be greeted by a gooey, smelly child in the throes of bringing up what appeared to be at least three days’ worth of meals. Containing a toxic waste dump in a crib without dragging it through the rest of the place on the way to the bathroom was a delicate operation, but I somehow managed in my comatose state. I rinsed the child, changed his clothes, replaced his bedding, and put everything in the washing machine – all while said child rested on my shoulder in a state of comforted discomfort.
At 3am, Ryder decided he had waited long enough and proceeded to unload the contents of his stomach as well. Unfortunately, he was lying in our bed at the time. The washing machine was reloaded; we started to question the meal we had purchased for lunch. Both boys would revisit the vomitorium several more times that night until they were reduced to dry heaves.
I had just settled down in my daughter’s bed (as Ryder was still in ours) when the phone rang: Reina was awake and asking to come home. I explained the situation to my neighbor, who graciously walked her back at 5am. Within 30 minutes of climbing into bed with me, Reina complained of a stomach ache. I was just getting a plastic bag when she puked at my feet; fortunately, she had the good sense not to sully her bed and I managed to get the bag open mid-hurl. I then realized I didn’t feel so well either, though I somehow managed not to puke that night (Savvy reported feeling ill too).
In the end, our movie night turned into a food poisoning-induced reality TV show that no network would ever air. With only 90 minutes of sleep, it was by no means the best night of our staycation – but definitely the most memorable.
Illustration by Sunzheng
This article originally appeared on p54 of the beijingkids November 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com