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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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Trouble travels in three

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Why is it trouble always seems to find us in threes? Is there some universal law of the cosmos that dictates tragedy should strike in triplicate? I'm quite certain Mother Earth has a good chuckle at our expense every now and again. Why am I so certain? Defense Exhibit A: last night. 

Now before you think some terrible fate has befallen me, the tale I have to tell is no worse than a sick kid, a cat's butt and a dog's ear. Hard to believe these three things have anything in common, but Fortune is a fickle-hearted fool, isn't she?

As for my first misfortune, it wasn't really mine. My daughter had caught her brother's cold in good shape. If you're not from around these parts, you may not be familiar with this idiom. Here in Maine, whenever we want to convey that something is or should be done well, we say 'in good shape.' My husband's a New Yorker (I still can't believe I married a flatlander) and had never heard this expression until a few months after our wedding. I may or may not have threatened him within an inch of his life if he didn't scrub the dishes in good shape before his parents paid a visit. He didn't know whether I was telling him to make a castle out of our newly-gifted flatware or to swab the deck. 

At any rate, my daughter had caught a cold in good shape. 'I sound like a dog when I cough,' she said to me as I fetched pain reliever for her headache, honey elixir for her throat and water for her night stand. Nothing could keep her from barking. Because our household edict clearly states: 'Let no sick child sleep alone,' my daughter knew she wouldn't be sleeping in the dog house by herself. Actually, she climbed up into my pound and proceeded to bark in my ear for the remainder of the night.

As every person who has ever shared a bed with another can attest, it's not easy to sleep with someone. At the outset, there has to be an agreed upon system of snoozing. For instance, we'll have a two minute talk time, you sleep on the left and I sleep on the right, I'll spread out and you stick to your corner. If these terms aren't discussed and upheld, a good night's rest is just a pipe dream. As one might expect, a kid who can't stop coughing while propped up on a leaning tower of pillows doesn't exactly make for a good bedmate.   

Nor does a cat who clearly wants to assert her feline dominance all over your face. What, you ask, is feline dominance? I like to compare it to alpha dog syndrome. Most dogs show dominance by assuming the famous yoga pose (downward dog) over their submissive counterparts. Usually there's some straddling and/or hip movements involved. Now cats are clever creatures (nothing against the brute intelligence of canines). They would never condescend to blatant shows of physical superiority. They'll just wait until they think you're asleep and stick their rear end in your face.

Every time my daughter's cough subsided long enough for me to travel a short distance into la la land, the cat declared her dominance. Eppie's a Maine Coon cat with hair long enough to braid if one was so inclined. From the majestic 'M' on her forehead to the royal slope of her hindquarters, she is one giant ball of fur. If you've ever awoke to the wispy hair of a cat's arse tickling your nose, you know there's nothing majestic about a Maine Coon's derriere. Replay this scenario: coughing child, drift off, wake up to feline fanny a few thousand times, and you'll start to see how my night was shaping up. 

Enter the third calamity: the dog. For the past few days, our golden retriever has been flicking his ear incessantly. Unsure of whether he has wax build up or an actual ear infection, we have been taking the wait and see approach. You don't really notice a dog flicking his ear every few minutes during the day. It doesn't stop household traffic. It's a different story when he's sleeping at the foot of your bed at night. You tend to notice the sound of a dog shaking the bejeezus out of his ear every two minutes when his head is at your feet. 

What to do? One clear solution presented itself in the sleep deprived landscape of my brain. Take the dog, wake my husband, change places with him, and find blessed sleep in another sanctuary. Let him deal with our cat's attack from the rear, let him prop our perpetually coughing kiddo up on a stack of pillows that  refuse to stay in place, let Calgon take me away. 

Step one was easy. The dog came willingly. Step two was even easier my husband woke up with a jolt. I may be responsible for the jolt. Step three, however, was not so easy. He fell back asleep before we could change places. Strangely enough, he had sufficient consciousness to suggest that I leave the dog in the living room before he drifted back to slumber. 

It wasn't a total victory, but then again, it wasn't a complete defeat. I let the dog climb up on the king-sized bed with Prince Charming and hoped he'd assert some canine dominance. Two out of three ain't bad. 


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