Puking with a quiet dignity

“Daddy, I had to puke in the night,” he told me.

Of course, my first feeling was one of concern; Mommy gets a tad bit grouchy when she has to add an extra sheet-washing to the schedule, and I have to live with her.

The boy was lying on the couch, watching cartoons instead of getting dressed. We had already determined that he was too ill for school. I knew he had a belly ache and a little fever, but I didn’t know about the puking.

Mommy didn’t know about it either. We didn’t know because there was no sign of vomit in his bedroom, which meant that he had made it to the toilet. That’s not so amazing; he’s a practiced puker who’s been well-schooled on the drill of running to the bowl.

What is amazing is that he did it without waking anybody up. This boy, who bellows about every little scratch and had already made sure I knew all about his upset tummy and aching head with repeated updates before 8 a.m., had gone about his puking quietly and climbed back into bed without anyone knowing about his midnight troubles.

We would not have been upset if he’d woken us for so worthy a reason, and maybe he should have, but there’s part of me is proud of him for being stoic about his business and not making a big deal of it.

This is a kid who will get out of bed and call for help on the flimsiest of pretexts. Aside from the normal crises of illness, bad dreams, and dire thirst, this child has risen from his bed to complain about the following list of late night circumstances:

  • His nightlight was in the wrong outlet.
  • His blanket was upside down.
  • His blanket was wrong side up.
  • His sheets were kicked all the way to the bottom of the bed and he couldn’t find them under the blankets.
  • He needed a fingernail trimmed.
  • He needed a BAND-AID for an infinitesimal, bloodless scratch.
  • He had needed to examine his scratch by the glow of his nightlight and couldn’t get the BAND-AID to stick anymore; hence he needed a new one.
  • His nose itched.
  • He was too hot, sleeping under three blankets and a comforter.
  • He wanted his radio on.
  • He wanted his radio off.
  • What he really wanted was a kids’ BAND-AID. One with Spiderman on it, which we don’t have.
I want a kids' Band-Aid

“If you don’t have the Spiderman bandages, I’ll take the ones with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them.” (Image: Keystone View Co.)

After all of these dubious disturbances to our nighttime peace, this boy gets up in the middle of the night, goes to the toilet, pukes, cleans himself up, and goes back to bed without so much as a Guess what I just did.

Remarkable? Responsible? Grown-up? Maybe, but once he’s feeling himself again, I have no doubt he’ll burst forth from his room at night to alert us all to the emergency situation caused by his incorrect arrangement of dirty clothes in his hamper or about how his hair hurts.


I’ll trade you my virus for your bacterial infection

My son is finishing up his two-week spring break from preschool. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why preschoolers needed a two-week spring break. Is preschool so stressful that it takes two weeks to recover from the wear and tear of the 10 weeks gone by since the month-long winter break? Do the children need two weeks to recruit their strength for that last big push toward preschool final exams?

I think I may have finally figured it out.

I think it will take a good two weeks to air out the building and rid it of kiddie germs after the winter of plague we’ve had.

This winter has been the most disease-infested season I can recall. I’ve worn dried baby snot on my shoulder since November. In that time, my family has contributed our quota of snot for the next five years. Fortunately, the baby was the only one who regularly decorated my shirts with it.

I used to be a pretty healthy guy. But that was back when I used to get enough sleep, have time for hobbies, and earn enough money to make ends meet. In other words, that was before I had little people painting snot art on my shirts.

Back then I only had to deal with adult germs. Adult germs are child’s play. Adult germs visit for a day, give you an excuse to call in sick, then pack up their sniffles and move along. Kids’ germs gang up on you. They drag you down, bind and gag you, and use your head and a frying pan as cymbals. Kids’ germs can be cruel.

And preschool is a veritable stock exchange of kids’ germs. My boy must be a pretty good trader, because he was always bringing home a new and exciting strain of something, purchased at only the cost of an old, used-up bug that we had already wrung dry of puke and mucus. We’re so proud of him.

attack on marine hospital

Even in the olden days, people just could not get enough of those addictive walk-in clinic fumes. Here, crowds jockey for position to get a whiff of some coveted quarantine effluvium.

At the worst of the epidemic, we could not get in to see our family doctor. We had to go to the walk-in clinic, which is the perfect place to go if you want to sample any of the diseases your family doesn’t already have. If you ever have a burning desire to wallow in the midst of contagion, spend a few hours in this waiting room. You’ll know what germ-laden miasma tastes like.

We waited out in the hall. The air was cold there, but at least we couldn’t see it.

For months, all we heard about was what a bad flu season it was. I don’t know anything about that. I do know that it was a bad season for pharyngitis, ear infections, strep throat, strep tongue, strep teeth, a mystery virus that probably wasn’t mononucleosis after all, and a host of other anonymous bugs. The one illness we did not contract, in the midst of this epic flu season, was the flu. I guess we’re just lucky like that.