Friday, May 23, 2008


Puke patrol is one of the downsides and necessary evils of parenthood. Kids get sick. Kids hurl. They need to be comforted. And someone to clean up the mess. That's where I come in. I have traditionally been the one to mop up, sop up, and rinse out the barf, because if I didn't do it for the girls, I'd be cleaning up double barf doses after Diane hurled from smelling the hurl. Yay me.

When kids are young, they have no concept of rushing to the bathroom when they're sick. If you're fortunate enough, they'll at least notify you that their tummy's aren't feeling too good, giving you the opportunity to rush them to the can. In the middle of the night? Forget it. You're alerted by their wails after the fact. You rush into their rooms to find their pajamas, sheets, comforters, stuffed animals, walls, and anything else within range soaked with barf. Once you get everything cleaned up and changed, you set out a bucket and put your child back to bed with these specific instructions: "OK, if you feel the need to throw up again, go to the bathroom. If you can't make it to the bathroom, I am placing this bucket (show them the bucket) right next to your bed (show them the placement of the bucket). Please, please, please, please, oh please use it." And an hour later you're changing the sheets again.

This week I think we experienced a major breakthrough in the area of nighttime puke cleanup. Diane had gone to bed and I was up putzing around when Kailey walked out to the family room with tears in her eyes. "Daddy, my tummy hurts," she cried. I escorted her to the bathroom where I asked her if she felt like she had to puke or just go to the bathroom. She said the latter, so I evacuated the premises while she did her business. She felt better afterwards, so I tucked her back in bed before getting ready for bed myself. I was brushing my teeth when I heard all hell breaking loose.


I rushed out of our bathroom and into the girls' to find Kailey hunched over the bowl and Diane violently rubbing her back and willing herself not to join her at the bowl. Kailey was in full freak-out mode, cursing heaven and earth and everything in between. "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!! retch. I HATE PUKING!!! cough, cough, sputter. I WANT THIS TO BE OVER RIGHT NOW!!"

She finished up and Diane got her back to bed, puke free, while I went to fish the bucket out of the garage. I returned to her room and gave her the bucket spiel, fully expecting to be rinsing out sheets in the not-too-distant future. I went to bed and, despite my anxiety of impending puke patrol, fell quickly to sleep. I was awakened an hour later.


I shot out of bed and ran into Kailey's room where I found her sitting up in bed clutching the bucket to her chest. I grabbed the bucket and guided her into the bathroom, and she finished emptying out the contents of her stomach. To my amazement (and slight disgust), Kailey had used the bucket. Rinsing out a bucket is SO MUCH EASIER than rinsing out sheets. For the first time ever, we escaped a nighttime barf-o-rama without having to change the sheets, something I consider a major accomplishment. And for once I'm GLAD my girls are growing up.


Greg said...

This is why I read your blog, man. I'm a few years behind you (oldest daughter is about to be 6), but I'm going through - or expect to be going through - all the same stuff. And you express it far better than I :) We've been fairly lucky on this front so far, but the few times we've had to deal with it (1 concussion and a few stomach flues) guess who's been cleaning up...?

It gives me hope to see they do eventually acknowledge and remember the bowl!

battered ham said...

It's funny, to the non-parental, casual reader, this post is ho-hum, la-dee-da, I-don't-get-what-the-big-deal-is kind of stuff. But to those of us in the parenting trenches, who are painfully aware of the effects of reverse peristalsis in the wee hours of the morning, this is a major triumph to be celebrated.

Hang in there, my friend. There's light at the end of that-thar tunnel.