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“Poor Toby, he tries so hard to be the best dog for Olivia and it does not always work out for him. Last night at 1:00am, he heard her make a noise and so he walked in to check on her. Stuck his head in to give her a kiss and. . . bam, she threw up all over his head. He shook and spread it around the room. We had an awesome mess to clean up as they snuggled on our bed. Olivia still has an upset stomach, but is feeling fine. Olivia and Toby were both very chipper this morning, unlike their dads.” posted by Brock Hancock, July 1, 2014, Facebook.  

My friend’s post almost made coffee come out of my nostrils.  Truly, parenting is not for the weak-stomached, and how ever can we love our long-suffering pets enough when they are so tolerant and forgiving of these little things?  I think every parent has gross bodily fluid stories we, later, laughingly share to terrorize both new parents and our non-parent friends who are sure they know exactly what our lives are like.  Until your child has spit up, puked, bled, sneezed a cup full of snot, dropped a lugey, peed or pooed on you, and I don’t just mean near you or where it hasn’t actually touched your skin, but literally upon your body and possibly your face and hair, you haven’t been fully initiated into parenting.  For some, it’s a one time deal that rises to epic horror proportions because they only have the one story. For others, the experience has defined which parent will automatically add to the biohazard and which one is hereinafter designated as the cleaner-upper.  And then there are those who can hold a vomiting child while nibbling their own PB&J sandwich…meh.

My own kid’s episodes of spewing were taken in stride as a rite of parenting.  In fact, we used what we called the vomit bowl which did double duty after a trip through the dishwasher.  If a child felt ill, we sent them to bed with the vomit bowl.  I’ll never forget the first night my son’s footsteps awakened me and when I asked what was up he said he was just going to the kitchen to get the vomit bowl.  Tremendous moment of pride and my cue to get up, wet a washrag, and await, er, results.   

There were really no horrible horror stories with the exception of the night our third child awakened us with blood red vomit hurtling at amazing speeds across our bed, christening three shocked immobile cats in the process.  The moment we’d get it cleaned up and settle back in another gusher would burst forth.  Truly awesome the sheer volume of vomitus that can be produced and projected by a tiny child under the age of two.  This occurred five or six times in less than an hour at which point there were no more clean sheets, or comforters, or towels, or, for that matter, cats and people.  Seconds after panic calling the doctor at the magical barfing hour of 1 a.m. it occurred to us that the blood red coloring that looked like little pieces of cherry skin actually was just that.  If we hadn’t been befuddled by the recurrence and magnitude of expulsion and its alarming color, we would have remembered that much sooner and salvaged the stoic parent reputation.  Nothing like a second panic call to the answering service explaining you were just kidding when you asked them to awaken the doctor because your baby was vomiting blood, heh, heh, heh. I’m sure my name wound up somewhere on a list of suspicious people.

Though exhausting, parents of a sick child who bounces up early the next day really wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s a privilege we alone hold, along with a hopefully empty vomit bowl.  

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