Did I ever mention that I hate vomit? It's not so bad that I sympathy vomit or run out of the room in terror like Kathleen does any time someone makes an allusion to it, but I really don't like vomit. At all. Ever.
In the last five days Edwin, Sophia, and Eleanor have vomited more times together than I have in the last twenty years of my life. Brandon and I have washed six sets of sheets, four blankets, countless washcloths, a pillow, a sleeping bag, two pairs of my pants, three sets of Edwin's pajamas, Sophia's pajamas, all of Eleanor's clothes, seven or eight bowls, the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor, Eleanor's floor, Eleanor's crib, Eleanor's changing table, Eleanor's wall, Edwin's bunk bed, the study couch, my favorite brown chair, and the boys' carpet - twice.
When I bought a carpet cleaner several years ago, Brandon wondered if we really needed yet another appliance to fill up our weight allowance. We have used it seven times in the last four days - four of those times in the last twenty-four fours. Now the carpet cleaner is his very favorite appliance in the entire house. At the first sound of the telltale splash, he starts trudging up (or down) the stairs to hook up all of the hoses and top up the never-empty water tank. The children't don't even come running when the noise starts up - they know.
Everything started Wednesday night. We had gotten fresh strawberries and everyone gorged themselves at lunch. Strawberry season only comes once a year here and so when it's strawberry time, everyone eats as much as they want before the strawberries are gone until next spring. Edwin had a great time, eating at least a pound all on his own. That afternoon he started complaining of a stomach ache. During bed time story, he almost made it to the toilet in my room, but not quite.
He quickly went to sleep after that, on the floor with a bowl, just in case. While relaxing with Brandon a little while later, I heard Edwin start screaming and Joseph shouting something about throw up. I opened the door just in time for Edwin to get his second bout all over me. Then I started screaming. I'd always hoped to avoid having someone else's vomit on me, but I suppose eight and a half years of parenting was probably stretching my luck a little too thin.
The next day was my turn. I never did actually throw up, but by the tenth trip to just hang out in the bathroom, I wished that I had just gotten things done the easy way. I never even made it down to dinner that night - I think that Snickers bar is a very fine meal replacement. Aren't peanuts legumes? And chocolate does have dairy in it, so that's two basic food groups.
Friday I spent most of the day in bed, recovering from Thursday's ordeal. Kathleen and Sophia kept things running well enough that I was able to watch almost all of season five of Downton Abbey on Thursday and get well into a Neal Stephenson novel on Thursday. I'm glad that I never ever have to go back the very young children part of my life.
That evening Edwin and Sophia both started complaining about stomach aches. Both got bowls and an early bed time. Sophia used hers first, and properly. I've never understood the beauty of a child who can manage their own vomit before Sophia showed my how wonderful it is. No sheets to wash, no carpets to scrub. Just back rubbing, water-fetching, and sympathetic noises. I can do that. She even got it done before Brandon and I started our movie for that night, The Imitation Game. I love that girl.
Right about the time Alan was meeting Judy the first time, Joseph came running out of his room. "Throw up! Edwin's thrown up!!" We went running in. Edwin had moved back to the top bunk, so he had more height from which to spread the joy. I hauled down Edwin's sheets and blanket and along with Joseph's sheets and blankets and added them to the growing pile of laundry. Brandon started scraping off the bunk bed frame before pulling out his trusty carpet cleaner. Edwin headed for the shower.
Brandon and I finished our movie before going to bed.
Saturday morning started with Eleanor in the bath and all of her clothes, blankets, and sheets in the laundry pile. After cleaning up the floor, wall, and crib frame, Brandon opened the windows in a vain attempt to clear out the diarrhea/vomit smell.
I cancelled our invitation to a friend's birthday party. We all stayed home. Between getting some more work in on Neal Stephenson and napping, I changed Eleanor's diapers and cleaned up her vomit. It's times like that when I'm grateful for the back-up stash of disposable diapers I keep for emergencies. And four sets of crib sheets.
Today we had church. Sophia and Kathleen (who had escaped the vomit, but not the fever) were feeling better. Edwin looked a little down. Joseph was still as chipper as ever. Eleanor had breakfast and then around lunch decided that really, food wasn't her thing after all. After one nap, I found her in a pool of vomit with a dirty diaper. Maybe she just coughed a little too hard and it went flying out both ends?
Edwin tried to finish his dinner, but couldn't make it before everything came right back up again. Thankfully the kitchen floor has no carpet. Brandon fetched the carpet cleaner - those things work really well for hardwood floors too - and Edwin headed upstairs for the bath. Eleanor joined him. I rotated another load of laundry.
I've always felt, in the sickie aspect of parenting, that I've gotten a little too lucky. Friends regale me with tales of multiple children at the same time - the best story ever from a friend in Cairo who flew back by herself with all five of her children for her college graduation and ended the trip sitting in a pool of vomit surrounded by four vomiting children while the fifth slept peacefully through the entire ordeal. Every time I've wondered how I would be able to handle such a horrid personal nightmare. Sure, I've had kids vomit every now and then, but not too often and only ever one at a time.
Now, I feel like I've graduated to Real Parent status - at least in the sickie category. I can tell stories with the best of them and clean up vomit while covered in it without even batting an eye. It's not necessarily an area that I really aspired to gain great heights in, but it's done now. But for now, however, I'm happy with Real status. No Professional any time soon, thanks.