Is There A Doctor In The House?

One recent Saturday morning shortly after seven, as I lay in bed reading and delaying getting up, an eerie sound started up in the boys’ room. It sounded like some sort of special effect from a science fiction movie. Before I could identify the noise, it was punctuated by a robotic voice menacingly declaring “Exterminate! Exterminate!” The music continued and then the voice cut in again and so on.

I soon heard the rustling of sheets and sleepy voices mumbling to each other, first softly and then at a near shout when it became clear that neither wanted to get out of bed. “Turn it off!”…”You turn it off!”…”You are closer!”…”So?! I don’t know how!”…”But I’m on the bunk bed! Just do it! Hurry!”…”I don’t know how!”

Then there was the sound of someone stumbling out of bed, some bumping and exclamations, and then the Dalek and his background music desisted. Some slight rustling as the vanquisher returned to bed. And then silence.

I turned to my husband and smiled. He smiled back. “That was awesome,” he laughed quietly. And, indeed, it was.

You see, that Dalek was ours before it was taken without permission. It had sat placidly in our bedroom not threatening anyone for well over six months since we received it for Christmas. If you press on its head, it will project the time on the ceiling. Pressing its head while the alarm is going off will also act as a snooze and we both continued to smile as we could guess how the boys had likely quieted the Dalek.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, it started up again and the entire situation played out much the same. Only this time, the young bottom-bunk dweller opted to retire to our room after performing his duty so that he couldn’t be tasked with silencing it again.

The next morning, the Dalek greeted us shortly after seven. And again the next. One night, as I tucked the boys into bed, I picked it up and said, “You know, when you guys took this from our room, you fiddled with it and turned the alarm clock on. You need to figure out how to undo it.”

They shrugged me off. I, in turn, shrugged them off. They had dug themselves into this hole and we found the Dalek not merely amusing, but pretty helpful, guaranteeing that our boys would be roused shortly after seven each morning.

After a week or so of this, I went to tuck the boys in last night. Hal looked up and pleaded with me, “Mommy! Will you please, please take that Dalek out of here?!”

“No,” I said, “I rather like it being in here. It does a good job of waking you guys up at 7:15.”

“But I don’t want to wake up at 7:15!” Daryl protested. “I want to wake up at 8:15!”

“Please!” begged Hal. “It scares me. Please?!”

His tone was genuinely that of a scared little boy. I got to thinking about my reaction when I heard that alarm the first time and firmly told my husband he was to never enable the alarm. And how much I had jumped when someone had nevertheless inadvertently turned it on.

I took the Dalek out of the room.

My husband was waiting for me at the dining room table for our budget discussion. I set the Dalek down in front of him. He looked up at it and burst out laughing.

I smiled.

The Dalek had been a gift. One that we had suggested we’d enjoy – mostly because we were after the projected clock. That feature worked but not the way we had intended. The gift, however, has not gone unappreciated. This past week gave us all the enjoyment we needed.

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