Why I was never nominated for parent of the century

By Don Rush

It’s gotten pretty deep in the hallowed halls of Don’tRushMe-dom lately, so I thought I’d try to lighten things up. On Thanksgiving, the lads Shamus and Sean showed up to spend time with the extended Rush Clan, watch the Detroit Lions lose and eat too much turkey. My sons are now all hairy with beards, work and go to college and into their 20s. But they weren’t always.

Funny, but I remember when they were young. Shamus, now 25, had issues with his ears always plugging up, causing him pain – which he would wake up in the night crying and feverish. Tubes in his ear solved that. Sean, 22, was different. Ear problems didn’t wake him up in the middle of the night. It was what was in between his ears that caused him to wake, screaming.

And, it caused his ma and me to go a little nuts, batty, bonkers. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, if you will.

Back then, the boys used to call me Poppy, versus Dad or Daddy. Hmm. They’ve never called me Father? Anyway, there was a stretch when four nights out of seven, Sean, aka Destructo the Midget, would get up every hour on the hour (this of course, only after he has had five or six straight hours of sleep himself.) I must say, he trained his old man well. When I heard the padding of his little four-year-old feet on the floor, two rooms and one hallway away, I’d wake up.

“Poppy! I had a bad dream!”

I’d get up, take him to the lav, then back to his bed and tuck him in . . .

. . . again . . .

. . . and again.

I tried to reason with him.

“Sean, Poppy needs his sleep too. If I don’t get my beauty sleep, I’m gonna’ be one mean, cranky and ugly Poppy in the morning. You don’t want that, do you?”

I tried the “appealing to the little boy who wants to be a big boy” approach. “Sean, you need to sleep in your own bed all night long so you can grow tall. You only grow in your sleep, so every time you wake you stay short.”

I tried bravado. “Sean, there are no monsters or bad guys gonna come into this house ‘cuz they know Poppy’s here. And you know who’s the meanest, toughest Poppy in the world. Me. Bad guys are scared of Poppy.”

I even gave in to the Dark Side one time and growled, “Sean. I am your father. Get your skinny little butt in bed or else!”


Another, softer voice came to me: “Remember Mrs. Giza’s Monster Spray.”

It wasn’t a question. It was instruction. Well, even sleep deprived I remembered Mrs. Linda Giza (because it rhymes with Fleeza, Wheeza, Sneeza, Jeeza and/or Peezza). She was Sean’s (and

Shamus’ before that) preschool teacher. But nothing ‘bout no Monster Spray rang any bells.

I did get the idea, though.

I hopped out of bed, donned my bathrobe and went to Sean’s side.

“Did I ever tell you about Monster Spray? It’s like ‘skeeter spray, but it keeps monsters away. Come on. I just remembered how to make it. You can help.”

And help he did. He added the warm water to a plastic cup. He added pinches of sugar (one for every year he was old), four shakes of salt, a splash of green hot sauce and one unground coffee bean. Sean stirred it up with a dirty fork from the dishwasher and then we went to work. First, I had him close his eyes and flicked some on his hair, and rubbed some of Poppy’s magical elixir on his cheeks and on his pjs. Then I had him do the same to me.

We were protected for the holy task at hand.

In the darkness of morning, with no lights on we went around the house, room by room, scary spot, by scary spot. Wherever Sean thought a monster might be, we flicked our concoction. For the better part of 10 minutes we exorcised Sean’s demons. And, before we were through, he made sure to flick some stuff on a sleeping Mommy and brother Shamus. He wanted them protected, too.

With our job completed, I kissed him and tucked him back into bed. Where, I might add, he stayed until 7 a.m. (a decent waking time).

As I remember, it worked for a couple of days, then we did it again, and again. I fear I did wrong by my boy. Instead of getting rid of his nightmares, I may have played them up and magnified them. I don’t know. Thankfully, he eventually grew out of waking-bad dreams and fortunately he now has a pretty darned-good imagination.

So, there you go. Just another reason I wasn’t nominated for father of the century. I still chuckle when I remember back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and hopefully you did, too.

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