The bell from hell

Written by Sai: Aka, “One of the Guys”

When my kids are sick I never quite feel right. It’s as if I have a furry woodland creature gnawing away at my stomach lining, trying to claw it’s way in. Somehow I’m able to function with this creature inside of me, but it throws off my equilibrium and my balance. And I get occasional stabs of pain.

My daughter’s been sick the last four days. She’s got a fever. She’s tired, listless, and unhappy. So my wife and I set her up on the couch in our room, so she can sleep, watch TV, and be with us at night. We like to be able to keep an eye on her.

But since we still have to attend to our other responsibilities-like her brothers-we gave her a small bell to ring when she needs us. This same bell we’ve also given to her brothers when they’ve been sick, and it seemed to work well. The boys would use it only when they needed something serious-like they were getting cold, or they were hungry, or lonely. My daughter, well that’s another story.

It all started off innocently enough. She’d ring it for some of the same reasons as the boys. But then she realized the power of the bell, and that’s when things got out of control.

“Daddy, my blanket fell on the floor.” (The couch is six inches above the floor)

“Daddy can you change the channel.” (She’s holding the remote and knows how to use it.)

“Mommy, can you bring me the computer?” (It’s on the bed next to the couch. She’s feeling better and totally capable of walking over to bed.)

“Daddy, what’s your favorite color?”

“Mommy, I want a dog.”

And it went on and on. Every time we’d sit and relax, or get started on a project that damn bell would ring. In fact my wife and I started hearing that bell, even when she wasn’t ringing it.

“Was that the bell?” my wife would say to me.

“No I think it was one of the boys blowing his nose.”


“I think I hear the bell,” I would say.

“Nope, that’s the dish washer,” my wife would retort.


And so it went.

And I got to wondering. My boys have had the same bell in their possession, but they’ve only used it when it was absolutely necessary. Actually, we had to push them to use it, otherwise they would have sat in bed and suffered. My boys actually felt threatened by that damn bell.

But not my daughter. Oh no. My daughter felt empowered by the bell. .

So I’ve been pondering what this all means, and how it might relate to the innate qualities of men and women.

Are we truly all hardwired from birth to take on the qualities of gender, passed on by generations before us?

Or is this an isolated incident, unique to my family and my kids?

My boys are like tiny men; you know the kind-they refuse to ask for directions when they’re lost. And my daughter is completely comfortable with the power bestowed on her, wielding it at every opportunity. It’s a funny thought to me, but one that might have some merit to it.

Either way, I’d like to take that bell and send it where it belongs-to the depth of Hades. But I am glad she’s starting to feel better. And she’s hard to say no to.

Gotta run. I hear that freakin’ bell now. Am I’m not kidding!!!!
“I’m coming honey!!”

What do you think?

22 Comments on The bell from hell

  1. Enter your comments here…

  2. Damn thing. *kicks your page*

    Anyway, I was going to say I don’t think it’s necessarily a gender thing. She may not necessarily be that princessy, but instead lonely. When you’re sick you want to be with your parents. When you’re feeling better its hard being shut up in a room by yourself with no one to talk to. It sounds like she’s making things up so that she has company. I mean…look at the “Can I have a dog” ploy…that’s usually guaranteed to bring about a 20 minutes conversation.

    Maybe you can work in the bedroom? Or let her move to the couch downstairs where some action is?

  3. Don’t forget…I have eight of those things. (Kids, lol.) I also think I used to be one once. Very very very long ago.

  4. This made me crack up lol πŸ™‚ Seriously laughed out loud at my desk….. and I work in a quite office.

    Sounds like your daughter has realized she has you wrapped around her finger. Welcome to a lifetime of serving her. Enjoy.

    In all seriousness though it sounds like she just likes having ya’ll in there versus being alone. It’s not that she can’t do things on her own it’s that she likes the company.


    Or maybe she’s a diva in the making…..


  5. I could take just about any illness my children had, EXCEPT throwing up hotdogs at 2 a.m. after having gone to the state fair.

    Acually, my children were pretty healthy, other than the general chicken pox, etc. The boys, I found, were just as needy as my daughter when they were sick.

  6. If I had a bell, I’d ring it in the morning, I’d ring it in the evening, all over this land . . .
    It’s a good thing I don’t have a bell!

  7. I think after the 2nd or 3rd false alarm, that bell would be in my pocket for a good while.

  8. I do think girls (women) are more needy by nature, or perhaps nurture. Girls are doted on as children; boys are left to explore. Those boys who are similarly doted on as children often end up as ‘mama’s boys’ and don’t make good partners. I vote to let her be a princess and ring that bell. That way she will have high expectations in life and not settle for less. What good and comforting parents you are. Your children are blessed!

  9. This post just made me smile and made me think of the times when I was ill. I’m married, we don’t have kids and guess what….we have the bell. lol

    Like you, we use the bell, when one of us is ill and tucked away in bed. My husband never used it when he was unwell. But then again, why should he when I was checking on him every 20 minutes. I would religously make sure he was comfortable, he got enough drinks, and I would constantly change his shirt if it was wet from sweat.

    When I’m ill, I’m really ill. I’m zonked out and hubby is happy to let me sleep. But when I do wake up, I would happily use it. Hubby is always happy to oblige because after all, it’s the only time I get pampered. lol

    I guess women are more needy and men are the tougher lot. πŸ™‚

  10. I don’t necessarily think it’s a gender thing. I wouldn’t use the bell much because I’d feel bad about disturbing people-girls are usually taught to think of others before themselves. And I’d think if it was gender oriented the boys would be more likely to use the bell because they are generally raised to think of themselves first. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

  11. I agree. She just wants a little attention. Now that she’s feeling better, it’s not a bad idea to take her down to a place where you and the rest of the family can interact with her a little more.

  12. embracing my feminine and asserting: i want a bell! i love taking advantage of being sick and asking for things instead of doing them all myself. hell yeah!

    but can i also just add my sympathies. i know how hard it is when your child is sick. when my daughter would have a cold or the flu, i’d say to her, “oh god honey, i wish i could just take it out of you and put it in me.” and she would kill me by saying in return, “mommy, why wouldn’t you want to just take it out of me and throw it in the trash”?

    damn good point! the hell with illness!

  13. I don’t know, Sai–I don’t think we are genetically programmed that way–but I do put a lot of stock in the very different socialization of men and women. I think your story of the difference in how your sons and your daughter use the bell is a great example of how socialization differs between the two genders. Women are taught, from almost the time they come out of the womb, that it’s okay to ask for help. They also expect that people should help them. Men, on the other hand, are taught to be self-reliant and to not ask people for anything. Of course, it goes even further than this. Girls are socialized to stay close, whereas boys are encouraged to adventure out. Likewise with emotions. I think we are becoming more balanced in how we socialize our sons and daughters–but these kinds of changes take a LONG time to come into play.

    As usual, Sai–great article. Thought provoking.

  14. When I got sick as a kid, my mom would plop me on the living room couch, in front of the TV, and there I’d stay all day amusing myself. With a deal like that you can imagine I became an expert in thinking up ways to stay home from school. Truly I think it’s an individual thing, and not gender-attached. I know plenty of needy guys, who depend on their spouses from everything to clean shirts to pampering when they’re sick, and independent gals who “Just vant to be left alone.”

  15. I love this one. My boys rarely get sick, but when they do it usually laryngitis, so yes we have a bell. I think that it may be more personality than gender, but since I only have boys I can’t swear to this. Once we’re adults, I think that most women feel that women are less demanding than men when they are sick, although we may bring that on ourselves by wanting to be a nurturer and wanting to care for everyone in the house when they are sick.

  16. Rod’s mum had TWO bells! Oh, never mind!

  17. Ok, the first thing that popped into my mind was: Where is she in the birth order? If she’s last, she knows the power of being the baby of the family. If she’s middle, she’s just discovered a non-confrontational way to attract attention. But, neither of those explain why at least one of the boys didn’t succumb to birth order. Maybe it is gender-related.

    By the way my sister and I NEVER had a bell. We just suffered silently (so now I blog loudly). I didn’t know parents gave their kids bells. But now I do. Thanks.

  18. I think all women have a little princess in them. I have to stop myself from “ringing the bell”. Mine is always, “Honey can you get me the…” and I’ll be sitting right next to him on the couch but I’ll want him to go get whatever it is. The sad part is he almost always does!

  19. When I was a little girl and really sick my mom gave me a bell to ring too. And OMG I abused the hell out of it. I loved being waited on hand & foot. It was awesome!

    Now, I have been REALLY sick this past week and while I don’t have a bell to ring anymore, I have been text messaging my mom [and my son] to bring what I need into my room so I can stay in bed resting!

  20. Ha, ha, ha! This reminded me of that Brady Bunch episode. I think your daughter is brilliant! She knows how to get it done. Not a bad quality to have. πŸ™‚

  21. Hahaha! Your lovely daughter comes across as a Little princess who simply loves the attention and had been quick to understand the power of the bell…. Thank God she is better Now πŸ™‚

  22. Ha, ha take the bell away…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Maximum comment length is 1500 characters.