As I child, I never quite woke until the vomit left my throat. Like getting up to pee in the middle of the night, a trick a child needs to learn if he wants to sleep in a dry bed, nausea pulled me from fitful dreams and sweaty tossing to stand bleary-eyed in front of the toilet, but it didn’t cleared away the gluey spiderweb threads of sleep.
Throat burning, eyes watering, coughing, I wondered what I could have done to deserve such a fate. When I opened the bathroom door, both my parents stood there. Both of them, every time. Even if this first bout was the beginning of a long night of sickness, seeing them both blinking against the bathroom light, faces contorted in lines of concern, it blew my loneliness away.
Somehow it’s become a fond memory. I don’t remember the worst part of those nights; I remember mom and dad, standing in the hallway.
Now I know what it’s like to wear the expression I saw on their faces.
Watching a child vomit is the worst feeling in the world. I’ve watched my ex-wife in the throes of peritonitus, pain so intense she cursed God, vomiting until nothing came out but foam. As far gone as she was, she knew the terrible truth - there was nothing to be done but ride it out and wait for the meds to kick in.
“I don’t feel good,” Dylan repeated, over and over, breaking my heart a little bit each time. He still sort of believes a kiss will make it better. He’s saying he doesn’t feel good because he thinks you can fix him.
What do you say? Poor thing, sweetie, it’s okay, we’ve all been there, it will pass, just try to get it all out and get some sleep, we’ll get you a cold washcloth and some Sprite, blah blah blah. Rub his back, don’t admit your helpless feeling is complicated by guilt because you kept telling him to quit talking go to sleep.
Dylan is not always a whiner, but it’s something he needs to be called on often. He tries pulling the “tummy hurts” card to get his way. If he’s finished the part of dinner he feels like eating, he’ll say his tummy hurts to try and get out of eating the rest (and it’s not a veggie thing- he’ll devour Brussels sprouts one night and decide he doesn’t like them two days later, or he’ll eat the top of a mini-muffin and forgo the rest). It’s also one of his favorite reasons for not going to sleep once he’s put to bed.
Saying his tummy hurts is suspect behavior on a good night. When his Tia Nicky and her boyfriend Jose are staying over, both of whom Dylan loves to pieces, then he meets especially skeptical parents.
In the morning, I tried to explain that that was exactly why I told him the story of the boy who cries wolf. The boy lies so much that no one believes him when there’s really a problem. I must be telling it wrong, because all he remembers are hungry wolves eating sheep.
We fed Dylan a breakfast which didn’t stay down, so he stayed home. Then the next day, Becky was laid low. Then the next day, it was my turn. My first full weekend off since January and I spent it ill, not exactly the weekend in bed with the woman I love which I’ve been missing. We had Dylan, six-year-old sweetheart who recovered first, bringing us Aleve and Gatorade.
That’s something I never did for my folks.