It seems like I’ve done an awful lot of writing about barfing in this blog. I swear it’s not because I have a fondness for yakking. It’s simply because I have a three year old and a five year old, and everybody who has young kids knows that, with kids of that age, barfing will be a part of your life.
Why do kids barf when they get sick more often than adults do? This is something I want to know. Is it because they haven’t gotten all the stuff yet, so they get it worse? Or maybe it’s because they run around at preschool with other kids who are sick, and they all pick their noses and grab each other and stuff. I have never visited my girls’ preschool when at least one child’s face was not covered in a delightful concoction of snot and slobber. And the kids don’t even seem to notice it. They are delightfully and disgustingly not self conscious. All I know is that, if there is ever a cure for the common cold and flu, parenting will be a very different experience.
So here is that experience: When your child gets the flu, they throw up. They might say their tummy hurts first — maybe — but they go around running and eating and playing anyway until they throw up all over your nice carpet. It’s almost never over the hardwood or tile. It’s always over the carpet. Or the car carpet. Then, after they throw up, and you clean it up — this is one of the coolest things about kids — they play and run around again and do pursue their interests until they throw up again. Adults who throw up bitch about it and lie low and feel sorry for ourselves and make sure we focus on how horrible we feel. (We also make sure everyone else knows how horrible we feel.) Not kids. They get up and do their thing until it’s time to barf again. So, as a parent, after a child yaks, you try to herd them toward the hardwood and tile for the next few hours.
I have a confession to make: On the morning of Riley’s third birthday party, she threw up. She was feeling great, and then bingo! She threw up. Then she said she felt fine after, and got back to playing. Let me tell you, my Riley’s nobody’s pansy. We didn’t know if she was sick, or had eaten some bad food, or what.
So this presented an interesting dilemma. We had already invested several hundred dollars to reserve time at one of the beloved bounce house warehouse heavens that can be found in every suburban district of the fine state of Colorado. We’d invited her friends. They’d bought her gifts. We paid good money for a rather freakish Barbie cake (featuring a real Barbie in the middle of the cake, and the cake as her dress — there’s something uncomfortably erotic about that, isn’t there?). Riley had been paying homage to this particular Barbie cake every grocery trip to Super Target Greatland for the better part of the year. She was totally committed to it. Now, two hours before her party, she throws up. What to do?
So we hastily assembled a crack team of experts to determine our course of action: A good friend and pediatrician (mother of three) who lives in another state who will remain nameless; a local mom; and a family of four (two young sons) to whom I randomly posed the question in the check-out aisle at target that morning (admittedly, I was fairly desperate for a third consultant to get an adequate sampling of opinion). The question: Cancel the party, keep Riley home but let her friends go to the party, or just forget the yakking and go for it? The answer was surprisingly and vociferously unanimous: Go for it. So, no longer feeling responsible for our own actions due to the firmly stated opinions of these unpaid and unaccountable consultants, we went for it.
Now I know what you’re thinking: You’re getting ready for a painful and hilarious Barforama At Sir Bouncealots story. That is certainly what would happen in the film version of this tale. In that version, nobody would escape dry. But in reality, the results were more subtle, more inconclusive. Riley did not throw up. She was rather low energy as compared to her usual self, but did not yak. Not even once. Nobody seemed to notice that Riley was not allowed to eat her own Barbie cake, a major accomplishment on her mother’s part. The party was a success.
Then, that afternoon, Riley and Sidney both barfed. And then, of course, they went back to playing. But in truth, they didn’t feel well for several days after that. So the mystery was resolved: It was an illness of some sort, and we were probably socially irresponsible by taking our girls to the party. (Remember, it was not our fault — our crack team of consultants are totally and completely to blame.) I have laid low for a while from checking in with our friends over the last few weeks, for fear that I would find that everyone was barfing and learn that it was all our fault for being selfish and holding the party anyway. If you or your child has recently barfed on account of our family’s decision making prowess or lack thereof, please send a complaint to our customer service department at email@example.com, “attn: Cory.”
The presents were nice, though. (Sorry, I had to put that in, just to bask in as much irresponsibility as possible.)
In any event, God, nature, and the tooth fairy have punished us for our sins: Janette had a nasty and unrelenting yakfest on Monday night that just barely kept her out of the hospital, so she got hers. Then she left on a business trip 36 hours later, leaving me with the kids and no babysitter for 48 hours… at which point I, of course, got nasty sick to my stomach for the second of those days, with no reinforcements and two kids to take care of. So I got mine. But, and I say this with great pride, it is now almost 48 hours after my stomach fell sick, and even though I have felt like crap for most of it — I haven’t yakked. Not even once. And, while I can’t explain this intellectually, I can tell you that, emotionally, I feel great pride in this accomplishment, as if I have somehow partially defeated the yak monster. I will let you know next week if my victory sustains over the entire course of my flu. And I will boldly and arrogantly predict right now that I will defeat the monster.
As a direct challenge to the yak monster, and with a groaning stomach, I am now going to fearlessly eat a burrito my wife made for dinner. You never know what will inspire a man to challenge himself and assert his manliness. This is this week’s challenge.
Wish me luck.