Reader, have I got great news for you!
A proven weight-loss formula. Guaranteed results.
Step One: Send your spouse out of town for a week. Make sure to have your identity stolen the day before he/she leaves and to have an Apple laptop ordered by a criminal using your credit card to be delivered to your home address. Make sure the criminal subscribes you to thousands of websites in Germany and Japan. When you go to sleep each night, think about this criminal, the information they have access to, and whether they are watching your house to pick up the computer, or if they’re stupid enough to have figured out how to hack into all of your personal information but were kind of in a hurry when it came to the address, maybe they were watching a show on Netflix at the time or something.
Step Two: If your child’s school hasn’t already planned to give your children extra time off for a teacher workday right before a three-day weekend (presumably in case you want to fit in a ski vacation less than two weeks after school has resumed after Christmas break), go ahead and take your kids out of school for that extra day. Heaven knows, with all of the snow days and delayed starts and early closings you certainly don’t want to miss a chance for more together time.
Step Three: Maybe you want to get out of the house for a few hours over the course of the four-day weekend. Go for it! Make sure to visit someone who recently had an extra virulent strain of a stomach bug that took down every member of her family. Eat a meal there. Bonus points if someone in the family still wears diapers. Viruses live in poop for extra long and luckily diapers are nothing like Vegas, what goes on in a diaper…
Step Four: Wait 24 hours.
Step Five: Voila! Your children will start to vomit. It must be in your car, all over the seats that you could not imagine why you would ever have scotchguarded at the time of purchase (what could happen?). Let this be at night, and make sure the vomit smells strongly of parmesan, even though no parmesan was consumed. Drive home for 15 minutes while you breathe in the aroma/airborne vomit particles. You may roll the windows down, even if it is 10 degrees outside, as this will have no impact on either the smell or the eventual health outcomes.
Step Six: After your daughter vomits all over her sheets, and you’ve changed her bed, and then your son vomits all over his sheets, and you’ve changed his, after they’ve both vomited in buckets and toilets at the exact, precise, same instant, after your son has dry heaved all night and your bathtub is literally filled with dirty sheets, duvets, pillows that you will wash in the morning but are just a little too scared to take down into the basement, what with the criminals out there and all, slip into at least 3 hours of blissful sleep.
Step Seven: While you are doing thirteen loads of laundry, given both the rank odor and the fact that you will definitely be touching some upchuck, you will not feel hungry. Luckily your kids can’t keep anything down except water, so you won’t need to cook for at least a day. If hungry, feed them applesauce.
Step Eight: Wait four hours.
Step Nine: Change your daughter’s sheets again as the vomiting is ongoing!
Step Ten: It seems like so many steps, doesn’t it! But you will get quick results—guaranteed. You’re just about to hit pay dirt.
Step Eleven: I know that Step Ten wasn’t a step, but if you stick with it, you’re about to seriously lose some weight. It will be totally worth it.
Step Twelve: Your energy and resolve to complete the program may start to flag at this point. Make sure to have your credit card company send you notifications every time there is a foreign transaction. This way, even when you are using the lid of an old cashew nut can to scrape dried vomit off of a pillowcase, you can vicariously enjoy lovely meals out together with your beloved spouse, who you know is working really hard (and that is not sarcastic, it is hard work to have meals out with smart people who are interested in the same things you are). Did I mention that the vomit smelled so strongly of parmesan?
Step Thirteen: Make sure to keep your kids home from school for that fifth day since they still don’t have the energy to sit up.
Step Fourteen: Clean like the dickens. Do the laundry. Wash the dishes. Put everything away. Make sure that you finally clean the vomit out of the car. If you don’t do this today, it’s going to get ugly. You won’t know what to do because vomit will have totally soaked in to your non-leather seats. Just rub it with a cloth, rub and rub and rub, first with water. Drench it with peroxide (more of the rubbing) and then coat whatever is left with baking soda. This will inoculate you against ever smelling the odor in your car again, though you will be told in the future that it still smells, terribly. Look, when you’ve spent that long with your face that close to three-day-old vomit in a car, you really can’t smell it anymore, it’s just some white, chunky blueberries and other stuff that’s very hard to identify that you’re just rubbing, and rubbing, and rubbing into your car for what seems like a long, long time.
Step Fifteen: Definitely don’t figure out how to order groceries to be delivered to your house. You’ll just go to the store tomorrow, right? After all, you still have a gallon of milk, two cheese sticks, some wilted kale, a bag of carrots, and an old chicken carcass that you were going to make into broth, an excellent thing to have on hand in the present circumstance. Sure, having some groceries delivered would provide nourishment for you and your children, and there is snow forecast, you live at the top of a treacherous hill and don’t have four-wheel drive. Better idea is to text your neighbors to see if anyone can drop off a pack of dry pasta. You’re going to need it.
Step Sixteen: Dine—Feast!—on a scrumptious and decadent half-full bowl of plain Essential Everyday Thin Spaghetti. It is the only thing your kids seem to be interested in and, since none of you have been eating for days, even if you can still smell the vomit from cleaning the car out earlier, you haven’t had a meal in 48 hours. Eat the noodles as—who knows—this may be your last meal for a while.
Step Seventeen: Get one night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. In your exhaustion, you’ve forgotten about the nefarious criminals so you won’t jump and wake up each time an old board in your house shifts due the bitter cold, and unless there’s snow tomorrow the kids will be back in school. Your spouse will be home in just two more days. Hooray!
Step Eighteen: Now you’re going to have to arrange for a snow day. Or at least a delayed start to the day. It is imperative that your kids not go to school for that sixth day in a row and that they be home with you.
Step Nineteen: Get out of bed. Start some more laundry. Make sure to wash your hands at least fifteen more times. Notice how raw and chafed your knuckles are from your newly compulsive behavior. Now, drink some tea. Isn’t that nice? Warm, soothing. Hmm—that’s funny, you don’t usually feel so queasy drinking tea. Maybe you should sit down on the sofa for the first time in three days, just rest for a couple of minutes.
Step Twenty: Don’t get up from the sofa, for any reason, for the next twelve hours. Curl up into a ball. Teach your daughter how to adjust the thermostat (from the sofa) because you can’t get warm, even covered in the sleeping bag that was luckily shoved under a door to keep the draft from coming in.
Step Twenty-one: Remove the sleeping bag because you’re too hot. And so on, back and forth. Teach your daughter how to make an emergency phone call from the cell phone, just in case. Notice she seems quite eager for you to lose consciousness, so she can try it out. Try to keep your son from giving himself a concussion, all day long. Recognize that he was definitely ready to go back to school. Google “flu symptoms” and “norovirus”. Note that you don’t have a fever, so you’re probably fine. Teach your children how to make their own lunch (again, from the couch). Shout (with all the strength you can muster—this is the exercise component of the plan) to/at your son that under no circumstance should he, as he proposed to his sister, get the big knife out of the drawer. They will eat bagels and apples.
(Step Twenty-one.five:) Resist any urge you might have to punch your children in the face. You might feel this. It can happen. Look, we all feel like punching our kids in the face once in a while, right? But punching your child directly in the face will not keep them from doing things that might lead to their doom. Plus, you can’t get to them. They won’t listen to what you are saying and you can’t stand up to reach their faces. You can’t even grab at their batman costumes. Instead, try watching more of the brilliant and compelling drama, P.J. Masks. Hope that your children quickly learn its delightfully melodic theme song.
Step Twenty-two: Let your children make dinner for themselves. Suggested menu: a granola bar, baby carrots, and a cheese stick. No knives!
Step Twenty-three: Take your temperature. Aha a fever! Perfect. This plus the aches all over your body will give you enough cause for alarm that you will probably not sleep all night. Not to worry, your son also will not let you sleep all night.
Step Twenty-four: Have your children put you to sleep. Talk them through their nightly routine from your bed. Don’t remember what happens next.
Step Twenty-five: Wake up an hour later, sweaty. Lie there sweating all night. It will give your skin a rosy glow. Have your son call for you throughout the night. He’s little and he’s nervous that you’re not okay. You aren’t, but stumble dizzily through the dark, repeatedly, to reassure him anyway (Note: Coming into contact with his now runny nose is recommended for the 20-day program only).
Step Twenty-six: Wonder how in the world you are going to get your beloved children out of your house/to school in the morning. Think about this all night while you are trying to find the cool spots on the sheets that your fevered body hasn’t already turned grossly warm.
Step Twenty-seven: Wake up very slightly improved. Pack two lunches, get breakfast for children, make sure they have underwear, hats, gloves, snow pants, backpacks, library books, favorite toy car. Whatever you do, make sure to get to school before carpool is over because if you had to actually leave the car to take them in to get a tardy slip you might fall down (but it is clearly safe for you to drive, no worries).
Step Twenty-eight: Get in the car, don’t notice any smell of puke. Do notice the low fuel light is on.
Step Twenty-nine: Last car in line before carpool ends. Success! Lean against car with eyes closed while filling gas tank, count over and over to ten both to make it go quickly and also so that you look slightly insane so no one bothers you. Make it home while listening to the same song on repeat for 20 minutes because you can’t be asked to hit any extra buttons or figure it out. Binge watch When Calls the Heart on Netflix all day long. Eat nothing.
Step Thirty: Get in the car to pick kids up. Drive down the street. Wave to a neighbor, like everything is fine. Poop in your pants. No, like really do it. Just poop in your pants. Wonder if that really just happened. It did. Turn around and drive home. Change your pants. Even though you are really dizzy, and it takes a while, walk downstairs to put the soiled pants on top of the washing machine. It just would not be okay for your spouse to arrive home first and find your poopy pants in the sink first thing. Gotta keep the romance alive. Drive back to school. Pick up your children. Drive home. Lie down on the sofa, wrapped in your sleeping bag. Wait.
Step Thirty-one: Your spouse should now arrive home. He/she may notice that there is a jar of empty applesauce on the kitchen counter along with all of the breakfast/dinner/lunch dishes from the past 24 hours. He/she may or may not notice the blue bucket and handheld vac next to front door (one used for vacuuming baking soda before driving to school, other in case you vomited during the drive), or that every surface in the den is covered, overrun with stuffed animals, an exploded Life game, pieces of a marble run, calico critters, art supplies, pillows, blankets, matchbox cars, random mail everywhere (literally like mail confetti). He/she may make a comment— out loud—about the state of the household. This comment alone could burn off up to one of the ten pounds. But you are still too weak to care. And he/she is not wrong. It is a fricking war zone around here.
Step Thirty-two: Allow the spouse to take the children to the grocery store. Bingewatch more When Calls the Heart for as long as possible (it is about a handsome mountie and an heiress turned schoolteacher in a small mining town in Canada in the 1910s—super highbrow).
Step Thirty-three: Take sips of things that make you feel sick to remind yourself that you truly still are really, really not hungry. Get on the scale, because you have an idea for a blog post.
Step Thirty-four: Be grateful that it was not the flu. That your children did a great job making their own lunch and did leave the sharp knives in the drawer. That you had someone, albeit with a terrible, disgusting virus lurking in a diaper in her home, who loved you enough to endure a morning with your two plus her two kids so that you could have some relief (also that you had another friend to whom you gifted this special program on Sunday night, the 10-day-program pilot group?). That your spouse is back and that he does good work that you are proud of, and sometimes he gets to have dinner out while you are scooping vomit with a nut lid. That he has done his fair share of scooping vomit too. That you have neighbors that brought you pasta, and would have helped more if you had asked. That you didn’t punch anyone in the face and were too weak to yell (very much). That all that was stolen was some electronic information and the time it is going to take you to unsubscribe from thousands of random newsletters. That you successfully intercepted the laptop, cancelled your credit card, changed your gmail password and apple id, and returned the laptop to the Apple store. That there is no snow forecast for at least two weeks. And that your jeans are going to fit really well for at least a couple more weeks.