There are many trying ailments that one must confront when raising a small. Colds, flu, lice (yuck!), and the dreaded, always inconvenient when it appears, stomach flu. There have been many nights when I have been awoken only to find myself knee deep in laundry and puke.
However, nothing thus far had prepared me for my most recent challenge: public puking. Now all of us have felt the creep of nausea at one time or another. It is an awful feeling, and unless one is pregnant, you usually can excuse yourself and attempt to hurl in private. Or at least in an alley or a bush or something. Not smalls.
You see, the line between feeling sick to your stomach and actually puking, is, for a small, a very, very narrow one. Kind of like drinking on an empty stomach; suddenly tipsy quickly turns the corner to drunk. This is a similar scenario for the nauseous small.
So, let me set the stage for you: family vacation, very nice restaurant (Mom and Dad were treating themselves and dragging the smalls along), very crowded restaurant, very far away bathroom with said bathroom separated from our table by, like, 50 tables, and no easy access to the outdoors.
You see where I'm going here?
Conveniently, we had just finished dinner and my husband had just taken my son to the restroom -- he always manages to miss the drama. Suddenly, my 4 year old daughter gets up from her chair and walks over to my side of the table and announces, "Mom, I feel sick".
Now as any Mom knows, there is something psychic about Motherhood. A Mom can tell by their child's voice, or look in their eyes or something, that things are about to get serious. Or, at least interesting.
We were there.
I asked my little one if she could make it outside. She shook her head. I asked if she thought she could make it to the bathroom. She shook her head again. And I could tell by the look on her face, that time was now of the essence. I looked at the table, trying to remember if there was a bowl or a bag -- why the hell would there be a bag -- I was grasping at straws. And then, almost reflexively, I reached for a crisp, white, cloth napkin.
And my girl, God Bless her, did what she had to do. 3 napkins full, to be exact. And she did it with silence and grace. Really. I don't recall in all of my decades on this planet seeing anyone vomit as undramatically as she did. Yes, I am grateful for small blessings.
When she was done, she asked me why everyone was staring at her. Thankfully, I had my back to the room and I didn't have to meet anyone's gaze. Because, even though it was gross, and even though it was completely unappetizing, what could I do? The human body does what it does when it has to, and no one, not even Emily Post can make it abide to any rule. So, I told my little one that she shouldn't worry; people were staring at her because they wanted to make sure that she was alright and they wanted her to feel better.
Sometimes, all you can do is tell a white lie to protect a small.
When my husband returned with my son, he quickly figured out what had happened, which wasn't hard considering my daughter (who was now feeling fine) announced quite cheerily, "Guess what? I threw up!" as if were just another exciting adventure on our trip.
I clued the Busboy to our "problem" and suggested that he throw away the napkins. Whether he did, I have no idea, but I like to think so.
Later, after the kids were asleep, my Husband told me he was impressed with my quick thinking. Napkins. Genius.
Normally, I like to take credit for my ingenuity. But the truth is, it was some sort of maternal instinct, honed over thousands of years; not me. I just reacted. And while I dazzle in a myriad of other ways, that night I followed in the footprints of all the Moms who came before me. Moms who had to endure much more than I have ever had to. Moms whose quick thinking may have saved their smalls life, like my own Mother had to, once upon a time. Mom's who didn't care that everyone was staring...
Oh yeah, and I really liked the skirt I was wearing.