U is for Uvula

uvula: a fleshy extension at the back of the soft palate that hangs above the throat.

The toddler is deep asleep. I’ve just tucked in the 9-year-old and called out a final “‘night ‘night” to the tween. Josh is out of town for work. The dog is snoozing on the living room couch. My laptop is open and I’m happily settled into a stool at the gleaming clean kitchen counter, a glass of wine winking at me. A quiet evening to myself is absolutely thrilling.

That’s when the giggling starts. How can that be? Lilah’s been asleep for a solid hour already and I just put the big girls to bed in their own rooms a few minutes ago – didn’t I?

I listen intently, valiantly hoping the laughter will just, you know, disappear and that everyone will go to sleep in their own beds all on their own. Right.

I’m in no mood to go traipsing up the stairs to play the enforcer. The clock is ticking on my precious Me Time. But I need them to go to sleep because sleep is awesome and magical, but only if my kids get enough of it. When they don’t, the next day is like trying to survive among the Walking Dead: everybody drags their feet, moaning and drooling. If you get too close, they try to bite you. It’s pretty gory.

I lean back in the stool, facing out the kitchen door in the general direction of the stairs and let loose my most urgent, hot-breathed shush. The giggling abruptly stops. I can’t believe that actually worked. I reach for my wine. Seconds later the laughing starts up again, only louder. Okay, that’s it. I give up. I tromp up the stairs to lay down the bedtime law.

I bust through the door to Ruby’s room. “What is so funny?” I demand in my best voice of authority. They are on the bed totally cracking up. “Hello? What’s going on?”

IMG_0013Ruby finally comes up for air. “Ella’s wiggling her uvula!”

Huh, what? Uvula? At first I can’t place the word. It sounds remotely vulgar and completely ridiculous at the same time. Oh jeez. Where did they hear that word? Did they Google it or see someone wiggling theirs on YouTube? I hope Ella didn’t SnapChat her uvula to anyone.

I stand there in the doorway, searching my brain for “uvula.” I quickly zero in on my sparse knowledge of anatomy. Vulva, labia? No, wrong end. Vocal cords? Nope. Then bam! Uvula, yes, got it. It’s that little drop of flesh hanging from the back of the throat. Thank you fourth grade anatomy unit!

Meanwhile, Ruby can’t stop saying “uvula.” It’s so true that sometimes the strangest words are such a delight to say over and over again. You can’t help yourself. You just want to roll them around in your mouth, touch them with your tongue and tumble them out into the world

“Say it mom! C’mon, say it,” Ruby urges.

I want to say it so badly, but I hesitate. I’m supposed to be getting these girls to bed so they can get a decent night’s sleep and I can have some coveted alone time.

Screw it.

“Uvula,” I say loud and clear. Hilarity breaches whatever wall of parenting decorum I’ve been trying to uphold and we are all hysterically laughing in that way you do when it’s well past bedtime and you’re supposed to be sleeping, but you can’t because you’re too busy wiggling your uvula.

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.

4 thoughts on “U is for Uvula

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