C is for CONTAGION. Erm… if you don’t have children, maybe skip this one.

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Hey. It could happen.

If a toddler gets the stomach flu in the forest, and no one is around to change him, does his mother still have to?

Last week my kid threw up on me.  I’m still not quite back on speaking terms with him.  We are working through it and with time and some memory erasing pill or something like in Total Recall where you end up a poor ignorant schwub but a happy schwub… we’ll be fine.   The kid (he who will remain unnamed for his protection, but he is not The Blonde and he is very cute, just not when vomiting) is now completely fine; he just had one of those killer, head is gonna spin around, pea soup kinda nights.  Right now he is eating his spaghetti and telling me, “No toys (computer) at da table, mommah!”  He’s FINE.

But still.  I am so not over it.  I hate hate hate the pukey stuff.  It is kinda when I really want to fire myself and seek employment elsewhere.  Bodily fluids of other varieties?  I am all over it.  That did not sound right, but you know what I mean.  Give me your green snot!  Your drippy eyes!  Your gunky ears!  Your endless eruptions of diarrhea —

Ohhhh snap.  I had forgotten.  There was a time when the poopies and all it’s awfulness almost broke my marriage.

Read on if you dare.

        “Given the physical logistics of the task, I’d give him 9 out of 10 for effort and originality.” I said tersely to my husband, phone stuck awkwardly in the crook of my neck, stirring pancake batter and occasionally throwing Cheerios onto the Redhead’s tray to appease him. This Monday morning Wee Blonde had just successfully covered my kitchen floor in sugar and refrigerator magnets – a hopelessly crunchy mixture that I was currently just trying to skate around while preparing a healthy breakfast.

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This isn’t really my husband. My male Dockers model is way cuter.

I sighed heavily. “I better let you go… gotta go clean up… “My voice dripped with sadness, and I envied him in his tidy office. He had on Dockers. They were spit-up free. In fact, I think they were ironed. He got to see other well ironed people who were obviously very important. Sure sign of importance: he wears a cell phone and talks on it constantly. Without interruptions. Meanwhile, my infant son crawled by with my glasses in his mouth. “Gotta go… “

“It’s everywhere!” I wailed later that day. Diaper blowout. The Husband had the bad judgment to chuckle. I glowered. “Dear, this is NOT funny! YOU aren’t here to clean this up! I don’t even know where to START! There is poo ON poo! And on top of that – “

“Wait, let me guess!” he interrupted. He had the gleeful tone of someone playing a game show. “There is MORE poo?”

“No dear. There’s pee. To make the poo slick,” I said slowly. “I must go find the Lysol now. And call my therapist.” Translation: Every diaper blowout you miss is another black mark against your daddy status. You owe me.

“Lysol. In bulk. Now,” I texted later.

He texted back: “Sure sweetie!” Cheerful. Still. Very. Annoying.

And thus the day progressed with as much tragedy as a Tolstoy novel.

Later, urgently: “When RU coming home?” Strangely, no reply for quite some time.

“Soon honey.”

“Can U pick up Tylenol? And tequila? And more diapers? And tequila?” *

I’m pretty sure the husband was clear on which item would be administered to which member of the family at this point, but I added for extra clarity:

“BLONDE ONE PUKE HELP FEVR SICK POOP EVRYWHERE PL4SE HNMEE NOW.”

No response.  Hmmm.

After baths for both the boys, and coating the entire first floor in Lysol, I managed to get a minute to try my husband again. I am sure he hadn’t read the vital importance of the last text and was off having lunch with his sophisticated, Docker-wearing friends. They were all probably laughing about something witty he had said while they ate filet mignon and potatoes that were actually not splattered anywhere but just stayed in neat little white piles on their plates. And no one had to cut up the steak for them; they could all do it themselves. There was probably soft music playing in the background that didn’t involve Elmo at all, and a waitress who looked like Angelina Jolie.  The husband needed to call me back. Now.

“Mommah? Change byper?” The Blonde was walking towards me with a funny expression on his face. He looked almost quizzical, as if he was contemplating the universe and all its complexities. Poop in massive amounts can have this sort of effect on toddlers; it stupefies them. He was also walking like some sort of gunslinger in a spaghetti western. This was cute, yes, but ominous. Need I say that the reason he was walking so strangely was that he had filled his diaper with 12 gallons of toxic waste, and it needed removal. I sighed, put the ‘phone down, hoped the husband wasn’t going to leave me for the waitress, picked up the toddler and headed for the shower.

Husband texts back later: “Can’t call right now, in meeting. B home soon.”

I text angrily: “Need a new mop And shower curtain.”

Husband: “Stuck in traffic. B home soon.”

Me stomping on keys: “We live small town. How bad can it be?”

Husband: “Trapped under mudslide. Godzilla approaching. Home soon.”

Me: “Wha??”
Husband: “Heading to Vegas with waitress who, I kid you not, looks JUST LIKE Angelina Jolie. Be home – Oh who are we kidding? I’m not taking one step in that germ infested pit of despair. Sorry babe.”

The last few texts might be minor exaggerations of the real conversations, but desperation and fumes from the cleaning solvents were causing me to lose my grip on reality.

And then, I sat. Redhead patted my knees, “Ups, mommah?”  I cuddled him close,  tucked his fuzzy head under my chin, took a deep breath, sloooowly reached for my phone.

Just four letters to my husband:

“MTTY.”

Then I slooowwly placed the phone onto the kitchen table and pushed it away. It would lie there on the kitchen table, innocent and untouched, until he got home. “Let’s find your brother,” I told my redhead.  “Bah!!” he agreed.  The  Blonde greeted me, his smile as wide as the sun. He handed me a train and demanded, “Play twains.” I sat down, plopped Red down next to me, and he clapped his hands and promptly drooled on me. And I played trains. I had gotten so busy crying, wailing, and even whimpering about my day that I could not see the toddler through the trees. And all the toddler needed, and the baby, right now, was just their momma. And a whole lot of Pedialyte.

“MTTY?” It means “More Today Than Yesterday,” as in the Sonny and Cher song. We chose it for our wedding, and it was blasting on the stereo when the husband got home. He actually did come home. He had all the items requested, and some daisies. And when I asked him if he would ever leave me for Angelina Jolie, he said,

“Who’s that?”

*  No tequila was actually ingested during the making of this post.  And I hope it didn’t drive you to drink, either.  images

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4 thoughts on “C is for CONTAGION. Erm… if you don’t have children, maybe skip this one.

  1. OK. I have one story that may add to this. First born, now 35 and a tenure track professor of literature, had a stomach bug that led to explosive diarrhea at age 2. And diaper rash. (We cloth diapered both of our kids.) So there was an air out period. I swear it was brief. In an instant. On my watch. It decorated the living room wall. The Wall! I’m telling you! From floor to ceiling and 5 ft. wide. She aimed! I swear she aimed.

    I cleaned it up. It was on my watch and things weren’t going all that well at the church office – so cleaning this was preferable.

    No alcohol was involved before or after.

    • I am proud of you… this is a moment for anyone to highly consider just sorta walking out and whistling dixie while someone (anyone??) cleans it up. But I also give her high marks for technical difficulty. 🙂

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