The Smoke Detector That Broke The Camel’s Back.

There is only so much a person can take.

Human beings (yes, mommies too) are fragile, as much as we don’t like to admit it.  We disregard this fact. We push it deep down and pretend to be super heroes. We call it “necessity”, because after all, someone needs to take care of the house, feed the family, change the diapers, walk the dogs, keep the doctor appointments, buy the groceries, enforce nap times, wipe the noses, do the laundry, do the ironing, schedule the play dates, and generally keep the world spinning.

If you follow my blog, then you know that I have had ONE HECK OF A MONTH. With our new apartment falling apart around us, not having heat, Bam Bam getting sick, myself getting sick, and Hot Nerd struck down by  the h1n1 virus , my mettle has been tested.

A couple weeks ago, I shattered into a million pieces. My fortitude was reduced to the equivalent of a soft, albeit tasty, cinnamon crumb cake. One touch= an avalanche of crumbly crumbles scattered all over your plate.

What was the culprit you ask? What evil superpower led to my eventual undoing? Two words for you:


Please imagine, if you will:

Hot Nerd is out for the evening with a friend. They are spending a late night at the roller derby (No, you did not misread. I really did say ROLLER DERBY.) At a little after midnight, I am jarred awake by a very high pitched, disturbingly loud, BEEP BEEP BEEP.

I jump out of bed with my heart in my throat and blindly throw my pillow at the… I don’t know… whatever I thought was attacking us at the moment!


I feel around in the dark, breathing very heavily, and switch on the light. I scan the room briefly, and then, three very loud BEEP BEEP BEEPS!

I realize that it is the smoke detector in our bedroom, and become very afraid that it will wake Bam Bam and scare the living crap out of him, like it did me. It is not making a constant string of beeps. Just three piercing beeps, followed by about 20 seconds of silence.  You know, just enough time to catch your breath, and remember what silence sounds like, before another round of earth shattering BEEP BEEP BEEPS.

This lack of a continuous string of beeps, leads me to believe that it has something to do with the battery. I thank the powers that be for putting a 9volt battery in our junk drawer, and quickly hop on top of our son’s step stool to change the battery.

I CANT FIGURE OUT HOW TO CHANGE THE BATTERY. I see no button, or hatch, or twisty- pully thing. I know there’s a battery in there somewhere because BEEP BEEP BEEP!

I begin simply swatting at the thing. As if to clear the imaginary smoke from around the device. I must point out, that the thirty days leading up to this point has already left me ill, sleep deprived, and the biggest walking ball of stress you’ve ever seen. So please forgive me when I tell you all that I begin to pry the thing off of the wall.  I gotta say, nowadays, they really stick those things to the walls. It would not budge- okay it budged a little. But being on top of my son’s tiny step stool, balancing on my tippy tippy toes just didn’t give me the leverage I needed. BEEP BEEP BEEP. So I start to beat it. First with my flat hand, then with my fist. Magic fist, apparently. Magic fist that makes the battery pop out of a weird, hidden, battery slot. YAY. I change the battery.

I praise the Gods that Bam Bam is still asleep in the next room and begin to climb down from my post.

BEEP. Silence.

Huh, that must be the beep that tells you you’ve successfully changed the battery.

BEEP. Silence.

Okay… that must be the beep that reminds you to perhaps check the batteries in the other smoke detectors...


I scramble back up the step stool and start slapping the thing.  I’m also whispering vehemently, right up into what I imagine to be it’s face, “What do you want from me, you mother fucking piece of crap? I will kill you. Do you hear me? I … will…  KILL YOU.”

I can not fathom how any of this is possible. How does a nice, new shiny battery produce MORE beeping. It was teasing me. The fucking thing was teasing me.

While I’m up in it’s imaginary face, whisper/yelling at it, I notice a teeny button that says press to silence.

Oh my God, I press it.

I soooooo press it.

It is silent.

Then it is not.


It’s a softer beep. Not a silent beep. The button should say press to get a softer, only slightly less annoying beep.

I, at this point, am wondering what kind of futuristic, indestructible, alien smoke detector this is.

I have also worked up a sweat.

And I’m crying.

I can not think of anything else to do, but to stand there on my toes and keep my finger on the stupid button. I am amazed that my son has not woken up, and if the loud beeps start again, my brain will most definitely explode.

I stand there.

My arm goes a little numb.

I stand there.

On my toes.

On my son’s step stool.

In the corner of my bedroom.

Feeling completely trapped.

Then I jump off, run to the nightstand, grab my phone, run back, and press the button again.

I  decide there is nothing else left in me. I call my husband. I tell Hot Nerd that I need him to come home. It’s an emergency. I’m at my wit’s end. My fingers are numb. I’ve got a cramp in my calf. And I’m very, very, very tired.

I give him the low down on the phone. He’s at a bar, they just ordered food…blah blah blah. I don’t care. I tell him I’m about to go crazy and he needs to come home. His friend, jokingly suggests that maybe our place is haunted, and this all being done by a ghost.

I instantly believe that this is true.

There is no other explanation. It is an evil spirit trying to terrorize me.

I begin to sob, uncontrollably.

Hot Nerd says he will be home as soon as possible.

I must add, here, that this whole ordeal has completely fried my two little doggies. They are shaking, and skittering around, and this only confirms my belief that the evil spirits are out to get us.

Hot Nerd takes about twenty minutes to get home.

I spend that time sobbing, stuck in a corner, with my numb finger on that stupid button, tirelessly scanning the room for ghosts, and praying that I don’t become possessed by demons. Our closet doors begin to rattle. Our apartment is so shoddily made, that they rattle when anyone enters the building, but at that moment, I’m pretty sure they are rattling because of pure evil. I truly don’t remember the last time I was so terrified.

Hot Nerd, when he arrived, let me cry on his shoulder for a few seconds, then went through a series of similar tasks with the battery. Every time we thought he had fixed it, a random beep would occur.

Finally, we figured out it was the stand up AC unit that was in our room. We keep the fan on for noise, and the vent was pointed straight up at the smoke detector. At least we think that’s it. We moved it. It didn’t beep. Beep or no beep, I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

The next morning, Hot Nerd suggested in a very gentle way that I might be a little over stressed. He suggested I schedule a massage for the following weekend to relax. This is why he is a genius. And also why he is hot.

I still glare at that smoke detector when I’m in bed.  That little, round thing was the last straw for me.

I broke.

I could take no more.

Sometimes the mountains we carry on our backs just keep piling higher and higher. We’re too busy pointing out how high the mountain is on our spouse’s back, or making sure a mountain never gets to start on our children’s backs.

So let this be a reminder to those reading:

Unless you wanna go bat shit crazy on a battery operated device, that is supposed to save lives, and swat at imaginary demons in your bedroom-  take some time every now and then to lighten your load.

It’s not hard. A warm bath. A massage. A yoga class. An exorcism.


Because you never know what the last straw will be.

last straw

last straw

17 responses to “The Smoke Detector That Broke The Camel’s Back.”

  1. oh dear lord. I laughed, I cried – I understand these last straws!!!! I hope you have since been massaged?
    I can just imagine how beeping frustrating that would have been and scary with the demony thoughts – thoughts like that plague me at the most inappropriate times.
    Hope the camels back is being rebuilt quickly

    • MJA says:

      You are so special and lovely that the angels will always protect you over any little demons that even dare to mess with you!!….
      what a beautifully written memoir of your evening of terror..a beeping alarm can send the best of us into a major leauge meltdown..:)

  2. psumommy says:

    I would probably find this funny if I didn't so totally and completely understand that last-strawness. Mine is usually some inanimate object, too. Or my husband, as he walks in the door, late, and the kids have been rabid hyenas for a few hours. So in reading this- yes, I understand. I get it. And I really hope you got that massage.

  3. Mei Mei says:

    Oh my God,
    What an awful thought! You're a very brave, good wife, and a wonderful mom. I wouldn't have let my husband go out with the boys with everything that's already happened to you. I think your husband shouldn't have left you and the kid alone late at night, unless that was a special occasion. Anyway, you're a better wife than I. I believe in Angels, and I've had many Angels in my life time. Just start believing in Angels and they will appear whenever you need them the most.
    Good luck, and may God Bless You !!!

  4. Karen Bannan says:

    Totally LOL over here! Your Hot Nerd sounds a lot like mine. I'm glad he helped you figure out the problem. Glad the little one didn't wake up. Hope you got/get the massage! Great blog. Glad I found it!
    My recent post Like Looking at a One-Way Mirror

  5. Ginger says:

    LOL! Been there girlfriend…of course..mine is resting in peace somewhere in a landfill! LOL!
    My recent post Am I the Only One Who Doesn’t Give a Rip?

  6. Christine says:

    I would laugh if I wasn’t crying. I know that feeling all
    too well. Usually my straw is a dirty counter, or laundry that
    won’t dry. (Yeah, we need a new dryer).

  7. I am crying with laughter. I’m sorry, but I am. I just stumbled on this post while searching what to do when your smoke alarm starts beeping three times for no reason. I’m especially dying because right away I went, “Oh crap, we have a ghost.”

    I am now absolutely addicted to your blog and will probably spend the rest of the night reading. Love that!!

  8. alicia says:

    Oh my gosh. I too just found this because our fire detector beeped three times. My husband and I woke up freaking out! We didn’t know why it was going off then were afraid it would wake up our baby and two other boys! I have no idea why it beeped but it stopped! I googled it to see why and found this article and we couldn’t stop laughing. Its 5 am here and I just wanted to let you know that we were literally laughing sooo loud we thought wed wake our kids up. This is a fantastic article, sorry you had to experience this, if ours had beeped any more we would have gone insane too! Thanks for a great read! I’m going back to sleep! 🙂

  9. nat says:

    Wow…im sitting here nodding in agreement to many of things that happened to you…if that evil alarm beeps at me again I might go bat shit crazy! I also have a baby and two dogs who don’t enjoy random beeping alarms at 3am 🙁 Why doesnt this alarm beep during the day? Ugh! Thanks for letting me vent!

  10. […] The Smoke Detector That Broke The Camel’s Back. – Mommy Nani Booboo – 11/15/2009. […]

  11. […] material, such as the first post of Jenni’s I ever read, about 2009, or the one about the Smoke Detectors, or her post about Micheal Jackson or the heartbreaking  Her Story…  In a nutshell, […]

  12. Kajana says:

    This was a comical story. Although not funny when happening to you I’m sure. I have been up half the night suffering from random smoke alarms terrorizing me. I was the only person who woke up! I ran back to my son’s room & he was sound asleep! I panicked bc ALL of the alarms were going off & no fire! I tried waking my son up to see if he wanted to sleep on the floor by me. Come to find out: MOST CHILDREN & TEENAGERS DO NOT WAKEUP IN A FIREALARM. It was astonishing & very disturbing! People PLEASE have a fire safety plan & a plan of action for your family. I have read of people placing whistles next to their bed, blow horns, I’m considering placing bricks around outdoor windows in case I have to throw a brick through & climb in and get my kids! So scary! 3 minutes to evacuate!! Fumes are more dangerous than flames! As far as the stupid smoke detector goes, I have no advice, except be glad it woke you up. I also felt like we were being haunted by an evil spirits, which makes everything 10× worse! I prayed for safety & deliverance in Jesus Name & the noise didn’t come back for a few hours. But I was so upset, heart pounding, I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was a full blown panic attack. I do think the culprit was me dusting the smoke detector with my broom a few days ago. (Sigh) now that it’s nearly 8am, it’s time for some sleep.

  13. Stacy says:

    Just felt the need to warn you about leaving bricks outside your windows. I know that thieves will use items they find laying around – bricks, a shovel or rake, or maybe even a bat, to break the glass and get in. It’s just making it that much easier for *anyone* to break in to your home, for whatever reason. ?
    I think as moms, we have trained our bodies to be light sleepers. My dh doesn’t hear squat…it drives me nuts. If the smoke detector was going off, full blown, he would hear it, but he doesn’t hear the random beeps.
    Great blog!

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