Worried over my sanity and the kids’ overall safety (you know, from me and my questionable sanity) I told them to turn the movie off and try to get some sleep. As soon as Buzz Lightyear faded into obscurity the kids’ eyelids were fluttering shut. I turned and looked at Jeremy with a smile on my face, anticipating the sunrise we were sure to be seeing in a few short hours.
And that’s where we were…in peaceful vehicular coexistance…when the puking started.
There is not a parent alive who can mistake that sound. It starts in the gut and resonates with a wrenching familiarity right before you figure out who it’s coming from.
With (I’d say) some pretty impressive speed I whipped around, grabbed a paper cup from the “snack bag” and threw it in front of the mouth of my youngest, the only one in the back seat with saucer-like eyes and suddenly green moonlit skin, and prayed that the disposable cup would hold.
“Why’s he puking?” Jer asked.
“I have no idea!” I answered, albeit a bit snippily. Although, in my defense, it was about 2:30 in the morning and I am neither a medical professional nor psychic. Dur. “Pull over!” I yelled.
Jer pulled off to the side of the road with the skill of a Nascar driver (as did our co-caravanners) and I ripped out of the car prepared to pull the whole blasted booster seat out the back if necessary.
Fortunately, there was a lot more dry-heaving involved than actual vomit so my little cup was going to work just fine. For now.
“Is he okay?” I heard from a car or two back. Jer must have already informed our fellow travelers of the potential precarious situation via radio. Our hubbies are “Ham-sters” (Ham radio operators) and take their radio licenses pretty seriously, which we wives do our darndest to sabotage. In this particular situation, however, I have to admit the radio came in pretty handy. But don’t tell my husband that.
Because we’re parents and like to have an answer for every ailment, Jer offered, “Maybe he’s throwing up because it’s so early. My stomach gets upset when I get up early to go hunting.”
“Yep, that’s probably it,” I answered, willing it to be so. I really didn’t want to start our trip out with a bout of the stomach flu. Although, losing a quick 5-10 pounds is always ever so tempting.
After a little more heaving and some very tender smiles at his momma, Jack seemed to be a-okay. We got back in the car and hit the road. And everything seemed fine. Avery fell back asleep. Jack was nodding on and off. Jer and I started holding hands again, albeit a little more timidly.
And then Jack started puking…again. I spent the next hour turned half-around in my seat supporting a tiny little Dixie cup perched below Jack’s chin.
I’ll be a little honest here. I started feeling really sorry for myself. Here was my little man, heaving his tiny little 34-pound self into a little water cup, and my daughter seated next to him, jerked awake with each sound, and I was pitying myself. Why? Because kids are very resilient and me I discovered, not so much. Jack bounced right back to his happy self and Avery fell right back asleep after each and every heave. And I sat there, two hours into an 18-hour drive, oddly seated facing the passenger window, my right hand lodged under my son’s face wondering if his sister would be next.
“Jer, I’m freaking out here,” I admitted.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because Jack’s puking and I’m worried that he’s getting really sick or something,” I answered.
“Mindy, he’s probably got a little car sickness, or sour stomach because it’s so freakin’ early. He’ll be fine,” Jer promised. Ah, my voice of reason. The calming effect to my downward spiral.
Feeling better, I joked, “Hope it’s not the Universe trying to tell us something.” Ha. Ha.
Jer looked over at me, shot me his best reassuring smile and turned his eyes back on to the road ahead…
Where a deer was standing, illuminated by our headlights and staring right at us in what appeared to be a very real invitation for the age-old game of chicken.