So. We have to move. In the land of beautiful people and unreachable standards, my child did the unthinkable—he projectile vomited on Ventura Avenue, amidst the pretty little boutiques and coffee shops. I’m fairly certain I can never show my face in this town again.
Moments before it happened, we were taking an idyllic walk, mama pushing jogging stroller down the busy street, smiling at people and making small talk to people in shops. Ethan happily talking to his “police car”, which is actually a die-cast metal red & white mustang. No sirens. No lights. It looks more like the General Lee than transport for an officer of the law, but I dig the kid’s imagination, so we go along with the police car thing.
Ethan’s latest “go ahead and bribe me with it; I dare you” treat is the iced blended lemonade at Starbucks. I’m sure there’s some form of Starbucks top-secret marketing strategy to suck in the stay-at-home-mom set by offering icy beverages laced with powered animal crackers and Advanced Good Start or something, because this child could live on nothing but the blended lemonade. And of course, mama gets the chai. Sneaky Starbucks bastards.
So after stopping in Urban Outfitters (which I have sadly decided has become far too young and hip for me to be able to wear without looking comical) and Barnes and Noble, we began to amble home for a late afternoon of throwing rocks from the backyard into the sand and water table (riveting, you say? Indeed). We got a block down Ventura when I hear Ethan alternately whimpering and belching those awful, echo-y “here comes the vomit” burps. And then all hell ensued.
Let me tell you a little bit about me and vomit (I realize this is something you could probably go very happily the rest of your life not knowing, but bear with, mkay?). We do NOT get along. I knew girls in college who vomited like it was their job, either because of binge drinking or the ever-popular bulimic purging. At house parties, I’ve seen people simply lean over porch railings, puke it on out, pop a piece of gum and get back to business. At clubs and bars, friends have excused themselves from dancing or racaous conversations, gone to the rest room and returned with, “Man, I just threw up so bad in there!” and they’re off and running again.
For me? Puking is a day-ending event. If I vomit, that’s it. Show’s over, thanks for coming. Show yourself out. Buh-bye. I only have conscious memory of throwing up twice in my life and they were in the last 3 years. Bachelorette parties. Mother nature’s way of telling me that I am old and should act my age. I heard her loud and clear, apparently, as she echoed her disapproval of my behavior ‘round and ‘round my head in a big ceramic bowl. Good times.
“Sarah! That’s impossible,” you say. You HAVE to have puked as a kid or a teenager, or while you were pregnant. Or something. But no. I have had, for most of my life, an abject terror of throwing up. Once, in 8th grade, Billy Beulieu puked in class, in the row in front of me. I realized at that point (well, after he passed out, hit his head on the side of a desk and laid there bleeding in his vomit), that I’d never thrown up. It looked to be GAWD-AWFUL and I vowed at that point I would do whatever it took to ensure that I never, ever, ever did “that”.
So I stopped eating. For a month. It was pretty easy considering every time I thought about eating, the image of Billy lurching forward and spraying his desk with the contents of his stomach plastered itself across my mind’s eye and that pretty much killed any hunger I might have felt. I managed to nibble on buttered toast and the occasional cup of chicken noodle soup, but nothing else passed my lips until enough time had passed since poor Billy’s stomach flu, and my ability to conjure the imagery of the scene started to fade.
But the fear of it hasn’t left me. The two times I did throw up in my life were absolutely terrifying for me, and if I could have run screaming from myself, I would have. Or if I could have bartered my way out of puking in exchange for, oh, a root canal or appendectomy, I would have seriously considered it. I’m not the type to hold back a friend’s hair while the throw up; I unapologetically head in the other direction if someone so much as hints that they might be feeling sick.
So this is a huge challenge for me as a parent. I hear those gurgling belches that threaten what is to come and I throw back the visor of the jogging stroller to discover, as a testament to my phenomenal mothering skills, Ethan has already vomited once. The traffic and hustle of the street apparently drowned out the sound of it, so I’m just aware in time for the second act. Poor little man.
And the second act? And the third? A visual spectacle for the entire street, my friends. It’s safe to say we completely skeeved out a pair of “The Hills”-esque blonde girls in their early 20’s who may never have children now, because, ew. A poor 10-year old boy who was walking by with his father will likely have nightmares of my child doing his Linda Blair impression for the next several nights.
And me? At a total loss. Aren’t kids supposed to puke into toilets and buckets? Or where there are towels handy to wipe them down and faucets to splash water on their faces? What’s this puking in the middle of a busy street where mama barely has a travel-sized packet of wipes to clean you off??!! I did a lot of “oh, honey. Oh, Ethan. Honey. Oh no!”-ing.
That was super helpful. Or maybe not so much.
What was actually helpful was the jogging stroller. Since the BOB is like the Lincoln Town Car of jogging strollers, it is way bigger than it has any right being. Lucky for us, Ethan vomited right into the foot rest of the stroller and I didn’t have to do any awkward hemming and hawing about, “Do I leave the vomit on the sidewalk or try to clean it up?!” or whistling and looking around feigning cluelessness as I pushed his stroller away from the scene of said vomit attack. Oh no; it was all nicely contained for me to take with us. Lucky.
I pushed Ethan’s feet up so he was sitting cross-legged in the stroller (after I took his shoes off—they are so, so ruined.) and then for the first time in a long time, actually jogged, down Ventura to our street. Poor Ethan, I just wanted to get him away from al the staring people. Sure, I was mortified for myself as well, but vomiting is such an awful out of control feeling, I can’t imagine having people looking at you during and after such an nasty experience.
So when we get to our block, I stop, take Ethan out of the stroller, stinky stench and all, strip him down to his diaper and carry his weepy, weak body home in one arm while I push the pram o’ puke with the other. Thank god none of the neighbors were anywhere to be seen.
Ten minutes later? He was fine. Asking for food, running around. No fever, no more indication of sickness. Hrm. By the end of the evening, the only sign of there having been a problem at all was the BOB stroller drying out in the backyard after having been power-hosed down by a gagging mother and the little blue crocs sitting in the front yard because I’m sure as hell not touching them.
Husband and I figure it wasn’t a bug or anything he ate. We think he gagged himself on the iced blended lemonade straw and set off a chain-reaction that just had to run it’s course. So I guess we’re going to need to find a new “go ahead and bribe me with it; I dare you” treat. Because once you’ve seen the blended lemonade come back up (along with what was left of lunch), three times in a row? Not such a treat anymore.