“Bunny Love” by Tori Nichols

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.”

No parent wants to wake up to the terrifying sound of a child’s screams. As my feet thundered down the hall to our girls’ room, the sound of my heart beating in my ears nearly matched the intensity of the wailing.

My husband beat me there and flipped on the bedroom light. Sitting up in bed was our 11-year-old, mouth wide open, screaming like an actress in a horror film.

“It’s OK, calm down. It’s OK,” I reassured Lori.

But was it?

What seemed to be sewage in radiating smears decorated Lori’s half of the narrow, shared room. Deciphering the scene, my nurse’s brain made a STAT assessment and came to the mistaken conclusion that my daughter’s bowel had exploded. Her twin bed, nestled against the wall, was most assuredly ground zero of some event. The area looked like a war zone of paintball-style brown sludge. Lori’s face was covered in a mud mask of the offending material and her yellow hair, standing on end in all directions, was streaked with a profusion of brown highlights.

I stepped forward, inspecting a glop of goop that was sliding down Lori’s eyelid. Scooping it onto my finger revealed clues—the texture was creamy, but sticky. I took a cautious whiff. With raised eyebrows and the courage that only mothers have, I placed it on the tip of my tongue. My husband winced and held his breath. After a dramatic pause, I declared, “It’s chocolate!”

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Lori and Lindsey around the time of the incident.

Often, little girls are darlings of delight, lambs of love, angels to be adored. This tends to lure parents into the dream of an easy journey. Fair warning—sometimes this dream is interrupted by detours. Perhaps you’ve heard of the character Dennis Mitchell from Dennis the Menace? His name has become a synonym for the well-meaning child who has a way of turning perfect tranquility into perfect disaster.

We all turned to look at our mousey five-year-old standing in a suspiciously clean corner—she was our Dennis. Lindsey’s head was lowered, eyes shifted sideways. She squirmed in a restrained way, hoping no one would notice her. I had a sudden flashback to the 1950s and the famous I Love Lucy moments when Ricky often said, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Two parents’ voices merged as we asked with exasperated sighs, “L-i-n-d-s-e-y, what have you done?”

Her lips were sealed, at least for the moment. Probably for the best—we all needed a bit of time.

Poor Lori, she’d had a good day, but a rough evening. When you’re out of school for an extended weekend and your morning begins with an Easter egg hunt, as well as a basket of goodies, that’s a definite plus. Unfortunately, the evening had ended with her getting into trouble. The punishment was banishment to her bedroom, and you know how she woke up.

Over the next hour of cleanup, it became evident that Lori had experienced a night of thrashing. Some children sleepwalk if they go to bed upset. Not our girl—she was a thrasher and the wall had been her target. I scrubbed away hand and knee patterns, changed linens and checked on her periodically as she sobbed uncontrollably in the shower.

I heard the shower water stop. In a robe and head towel, Lori entered her room as a soldier to battle, shaky but in control. She sat on the edge of her freshly made bed. Lindsey sat down next to her. It looked like confession time. Clutching her stuffed bedtime bunny, Lindsey finally spoke.

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A recent photo of Lindsey and Lori.

“Sissy, remember how you got in trouble? I heard you crying until you went to sleep.” Pointing to her chest, Lindsey said, “It hurt me in here when you cried. If you’re sad, I’m sad, and when I’m sad, I always want my Beatrix Bunny to hug. So I took the big chocolate bunny out of your Easter basket and put it in your arms so we could both feel better. I love you, Sissy.”

It was impossible to argue with her logic and after that explanation, forgiveness was a foregone conclusion. The beauty of a child’s thinking, with all complexities stripped away, can certainly humble an adult.

The sisters hugged and kissed and my husband and I, hoping to avert any future repeat, did our best to explain body warmth and the concept of melting chocolate.

Twenty-five Easters have come and gone since then. Throughout the years, Lindsey has continued to live up to Dennis’ legacy. Yes, it’s been a wild ride, not one dull moment in our family. I must tell you that every spring since that fateful night, when chocolate bunnies line the store shelves, we all smile. And one of us will inevitably say, “What do you think? Should we stock up on some bunny love?”

TFamily 250rgbori Nichols is a writer-poet. She lives in Southern Illinois with wonderful family members who unwittingly supply material for humorous stories. Her work can also be found in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Second Dose, Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Home Improvement and Cynic Magazine. Message her at http://www.torinichols.com.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.” The book is filled with 60 funny stories that confirm families aren’t always perfect! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1uWdwES) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/11HEQLy).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.

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