Good ol’ dad gets his test of fire from a sick, vomiting son

The parenthood fraternity was holding rush week over the Christmas holidays, and I felt like a naive pledge. If you have children, it will be all too easy to identify with what I am about to tell you. No, it’s not a pleasant topic, but for you parents out there, I’m confident you can feel my pain. I am sure each parent has similar stories and ones even better (or worse) than this. The most memorable for me this holiday “rush” week had to be being the direct target of a 10-month-old boy’s projectile vomiting attack. Not just a little blurp of formula or milk, but an all-out assault and bombing run that left me covered from the neck down. The manner in which the trip to the family gathering at my mother’s home in Dallas began was only a sign of things to come. After packing the van we borrowed from the Smith family, I double-checked the electrical connections in the van on the TV/VCR. (As much as I hate to say it, a four-hour trip to Dallas goes a whole lot smoother with two children strapped into child seats occupied by Barney’s Christmas video.) Anyhow, sure enough, I left the ignition on after checking the TV. I am sure I was distracted by a nuclear bomb scare or something like that, but alas, when we were all packed and buckled in ready to go, there was not even a hint of battery power. Not even a glimmer in the dome light. I jump started the van amidst the screaming hunger cries of our youngest. It soon became apparent that Sam would not wait until we got to the store to switch out the incorrect brand of formula with the right, non-puking kind. (You guessed it’dear old dad picked up the wrong formula at the store.) Then, to delay the entire ordeal, the hood would not properly latch on the van. No problem, Mr. Fixit had the solution and made short work of the stubborn latch. The five minutes it took me to battle the hood latch led to my wife giving in to the ear-piercing screams as she decided to try the formula on hand. What the hay, he had never tried this formula, but maybe he would like it!’ With the boy downing a bottle of formula, we soon got on the road and made a relatively smooth trip to the big D. We arrived just in time to hit Friday evening traffic on the weekend before Christmas, so we decided to stop for a bite to eat at one of our favorite dining spots and let the traffic thin out. Well, lo and behold, as the food was being set on the table, the first spewing session began. Holly managed to catch most of it very inconspicuously in the oversized napkins provided, and once the session was over, everything was back to normal, or so it seemed. Sam didn’t even seem to be phased the least bit. He just picked up right where he left off stuffing his face. We finished dinner and made it home. Holly was putting the little tyke down at bedtime when the second session began. This time, dear ol’ mom was on the receiving end of the attack. Sam does not play favorites. Seeing partially digested French fries from dinner puzzled both my wife and me for several minutes. The “mystery substance” had us both thinking that our little boy had somehow eaten something when we weren’t looking. A very strong guilt about my ineptness to supervise my son began to take over. I guess dealing with sick children is a parent thing. Two grown adults studying pieces of regurgitated mystery meat. Gross! I remember as a kid having my parents care for me at less-than-attractive times. They never flinched. Amazing. I guess that is part of being a parent. Anyway, the boy finally went to sleep and had yet another session (on mom) first thing Saturday a.m. The rest of the day and all of Sunday morning, the little guy was as normal as could be. We returned from church Sunday morning and kicked off the “leftovers” meal. Sam decided he was going to get cranky and kept Holly occupied while I managed to eat. We switched roles, and as I sat down with him to try and quiet the screams emanating from our small bundle of joy, I could feel what I thought were gas pains in his little tummy. Those rumblings weren’t gas. I got the boy to the sink, but not a drop of the foul substance ever made it in the sink’it was all slowly soaking into my shirt and pants. I don’t quite remember what happened from there. My wife claims that I yelled something at her then just set Sam down in the middle of the kitchen floor and headed outside. I proceeded to undress down to boxers, undershirt and my cute little blue Christmas socks with Christmas trees all over them. I just left the clothes there on the ground and headed back inside for the suitcase. I passed everyone eating at the dining table (Yes, guests, too) as they all laughed and joked about getting a camera to capture the moment that I had been baptized with fire. Sure, I have had babies spitup on me before; what parent hasn’t’ But to be covered from head to toe, literally by your child’s breakfast and lunch, that makes you one of the many, the proud’the Daddy. We hurriedly packed the van and said our good-byes. All siblings in my family except my little sister are married, have kids and been there, done that. I hope they understood. We arrived safely home, unpacked and began what has been since then, an attempt to feed the bottomless pit of a baby who hadn’t really kept any food down for three days. The first night back home, he woke up three separate times to eat. The best part was, he kept it all down. Back at home, in his own surroundings without 15 friends and relatives around 24 hours a day, the boy has returned to normal. I guess he is not much of a socializer yet’since he is Holly’s son, we know he’ll get there. All in all, it was great to see my family. We all got along, and we even got to spend time doing things as a family. I thank my sisters for taking the time to plan a full weekend of activities. But as for when the next trip will happen, let’s just say it might be awhile. It is all over and done with now, and I am no longer a pledge in the parenthood fraternity. I received my pin in grand fashion and wore it proudly, all over my shirt and pants. Thank God for washing machines.

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