I have a confession to make. Sometimes…ok often when one of my children tells me they’re sick I don’t take them seriously. My defense has always been that once you have four you realize the bounce, so you don’t get upset. I have spent a lot of time silently laughing at new parents who freak out over every little sniffle and fever. I have felt superior on many occasions because I have parenting of a sick kid down pat. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Heck, I hardly sweat the big stuff when it comes to illnesses.
This isn’t always a good thing. Two years ago John lacerated his kidney in a bicycle accident. I took him to the emergency room, not for the kidney but because I thought he’d broken his arm. I also made him wait to go until after I’d taken his sister to school. Whoopsie. Last summer I laughed at my friend Jen for panicking over Jackson claiming he was sick on a long car ride. She was worried he was going to throw up. I may have made fun of her. I may have even written a blog post making fun of her. As of yesterday, I’m officially sorry for that. Seriously.
Yesterday afternoon we took the whole family out for lunch. Jackson had complained about not feeling well but he seemed fine. He ate breakfast, played video games, and terrorized everyone in the house all morning long. I watched as he and Reese made multiple laps around the couch, screaming, hitting, and throwing things at each other. (Don’t be alarmed this is normal behavior in our house.) So, when he told me he didn’t feel well, I ignored him. I figured he was probably just hungry. We had lunch and started the drive home. We were trying to decide (by that I mean arguing) what to do for the rest of the afternoon when I heard it.
If you’re a mom, you know the exact tone of voice your child uses when he is about to spew chunks. There were approximately three nano-seconds between hearing the word “Mommy” and hearing the vomit escape from his throat. All six of us were in the minivan. Reese and Jackson were in the way back, Jackson said “Mommy,” puked, then started crying. Dallas told him to calm down and that it was ok. I put the pedal to the metal.
I wasn’t fast enough. Jackson puked again. A big one. I could hear it hit the floor in a loud swoosh. Jackson kept crying and saying, “I frowed up!” Reese started screaming in a voice that was just a few decibles shy of something only dogs can hear. Taryn and John laughed, then started gagging. Within seconds the stench reached the front seat where Dallas and I started gagging too. It was 30 degrees so I could only open the windows half way. John raised his face up into the half-open window like a dog trying to escape the awful smell.
We finally got home. Everyone bailed out of the van as fast as possible. I threw Jackson in the shower under Taryn’s supervision so Dallas and I could attack the van. Let me be clear; I don’t do vomit. It is not in my job description. Dallas handles the puke in this household. (It’s the number 1 reason we’re still married.) But this was a two person job. The van was in the driveway with all the doors open. Dallas and I both had on rubber gloves. We were armed with paper towels, real towels, disinfectant spray, and grocery bags.
It was not enough. Of all the gear Dallas has issued to him, a gas mask is not something he has at home – we could have used it. The smell was bad. Both of us gagged and spit in the front yard. He scraped chunks into the grocery bag I held open. We had to keep moving the seats up and down to get it all out. It was disgusting. Then we used the spray to kill the smell so we could wipe more of it up. Then I had to go to the store and buy an upholstery cleaner so we could get it all up. The last thing we wanted was frozen vomit the next morning.
Jen has always defended her reaction to Jackson’s stomach complaints by saying how smelly and gross it is to clean up vomit from the car. She is 100% correct. I’ll never doubt her again. I’m also putting barf bags in the van.