As the day came to a close last weekend, Tessa and I closed out an exciting Saturday night with a viewing of “Abducted in Plain Sight” on Netflix. Domestication is a wild ride, let me tell ya, but I didn’t mind. I’d spent most of the day outside, enjoying the mild weather before the rain set back in, and after a sedentary winter, I was beat after a day of outdoor labor.

We were just drifting off to sleep when we were awakened by the unmistakable sound of a puking child. Mandolin, our 14-month-old baby girl, sat up in bed and heaved up the contents of her stomach. And thus began a long and torturous night of little to no sleep, during which time I tossed, turned and found my brain wandering among topics that ranged from the absurd to the comical.

And so I present to you: Saturday night with a spewing baby, or, the ramblings of a sleep-deprived mind …

10:45 p.m.: Baby girl is cleaned up and changed; bed has been stripped; we lie back down and cross our fingers: Maybe it’s just dinner disagreeing with a sensitive tummy.

11 p.m.: Nope. Definitely a stomach bug. Do we have enough towels?

11:30 p.m.: I don’t think we have enough towels.

11:40 p.m.: I understand why “Abducted in Plain Sight” is such a water cooler documentary. Being kidnapped twice by the same guy? That’s crazy. Also, although they clearly love their daughter, the poor girl’s parents struck me as a couple of doofuses. “Hey, my therapist says I need to go lie down in your daughter’s bed with her, by myself, late at night,” her kidnapper told them … and they agreed? At what point is stupidity inexcusable when it comes to child endangerment?

12:15 a.m.: More vomit. My poor daughter is inconsolable and OH JESUS I STUCK MY HAND IN IT.

12:16 a.m.: Bleach burns even the most dry and callused of hands, it seems.

12:25 a.m.: What kind of sicko wants to kidnap a child anyway? They’re walking petri dishes waiting to explode like pestilence bombs at any given moment.

12:47 a.m.: Why does Blount County make the news for so much weird stuff? The guy with the recent “special delivery” of salsa is just the latest example. Remember back in 2016, when a 32-year-old dude strolled into William Blount High School wearing only his skivvies and a pair of socks, helped himself to some hand sanitizer behind the front counter and waltzed on down the hall, where he was arrested near a speaker that he claimed was infested with Smurfs?

12:48 a.m.: And how could I forget about the “Nacho Cheese Bandit” who, back in 2004, “broke into the John Sevier Pool snack bar area, stole some snacks and did some damage and was caught naked ... (with) nacho cheese in his hair, on his face and on his shoulders,” according to our coverage of the incident at the time, which noted that said cheese bandit was “highly intoxicated.”

12:49 a.m.: Hey, at least we don’t have a reputation for butt-chugging fraternities. That’s a distinction that can stay on the north side of the river.

1:20 a.m.: WHY IS THIS CHILD STILL VOMITING? How much puke can one baby produce?

2:20 a.m.: Hey, I dozed off for an hour. And now I’m more tired than before. And I think she’s puking again. We’re down to old T-shirts, and the washing machine has been running for two hours now.

2:40 a.m.: Is that rain? Is it raining again? It is. We’re cursed.

3 a.m.: Area bars are closing down right about now. I doubt even the most intoxicated of party animals will spew as much as this baby.

3:10 a.m.: Another 50 minutes and I bet Trump will start Tweeting. At least I’ll have something entertaining to read.

3:50 a.m.: Why is my stomach feeling jumpy? Can you get sympathy nausea? Am I just being paranoid? I think I’m being paranoid. Please let that be it.

4:30 a.m.: Hey, a 30-minute power nap. And I don’t think baby girl has yakked in a couple of hours now. Maybe we’ve turned a corner.

4:50 a.m.: We haven’t turned a corner.

5:10 a.m.: Is Hardee’s open yet? Wait, forget it. East Broadway feels like they’ve been driving tanks over that section of road. How long does it take to fix that mess? I should call my commissioner and ask.

5:11 a.m.: Who’s my commissioner? I can’t remember. I can’t really remember anything at this point. I feel like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings,” except “My Precious” is three hours of uninterrupted slumber.

6:05 a.m.: I hear my rooster crowing down in the chicken coop. It’s morning, and I’m a wreck. To quote Det. Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon,” “I’m getting too old for this s---.”

6:30 a.m.: Everyone is sleeping peacefully for the moment. The vomiting seems to have ceased. Thank the Lord for small favors, robust immune systems and the realization that a stomach bug is, in the grand scheme of things, a very minor irritation when we’ve got a roof over our heads, medicine at our disposal and the money to pay a doctor bill, if need be.

And we didn’t. By Sunday afternoon, she was back to normal. The rest of us even managed to avoid whatever contagion she possessed, so despite my all-night ponderings, life is seemingly back to normal … at least until pestilence finds House Wildsmith once more.

Steve Wildsmith was an editor and writer for The Daily Times for nearly 17 years; a recovering addict, he now works in media and marketing for Cornerstone of Recovery, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Blount County. Contact him at

Award-winning freelance columnist and entertainment writer Steve Wildsmith is the former WeekEnd editor at The Daily Times.

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