My young apprentice has a decidedly casual attitude about vomiting. He’ll be in the middle of talking (or eating, or playing with one Star Wars action figure or another), there will be a bit of coughing with a tell-tale gag at the end, and then: barf. This is not accompanied by crying or panicking, but generally with the observation, “I puked,” followed by an immediate attempt to resume his previous activities; this despite the fact that there is almost certainly more to come in the Upchuck Department.
Laura and I will stop Kyle in his tracks and begin the process of (a) cleaning up whatever vomit has already been delivered and (b) attempting to catch any subsequent outbursts somewhere between his lips and the nearest horizontal surface (or his shirt). This latter act is typically achieved through the application of tissues, as they are usually the closest thing to a towel or washcloth within reach. Unfortunately, attempting to catch vomit—even from a four-year-old whose stomach is the size of (as near I can guess) a softball—with a tissue is a bit like trying to catch spaghetti with a broadsword, only slimier.
Yesterday, after Kyle’s lunch made an encore appearance on the living room carpet, Laura decided it was time to introduce “the pail”. She retrieved an empty four-quart ice cream container from the garage, I filled the bottom with about a half-inch of water, and we instructed Kyle that—should he feel the need to vomit again—he should aim for the bucket. Kyle immediately decided that it an old ice cream pail with a bit of water in the bottom was pretty cool, which led to an “accidental” spill about 30 minutes later. “It was a accident,” he declared ((He pronounces the word “ASS-i-dent” and uses it like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card or his own little form of diplomatic immunity. I imagine that I’m Murtaugh on the deck of the Alba Varden, Kyle has just shot Riggs, and he looks up at me and sneers, “It was a assident.” What’s a father to do?)) as Laura was cleaning up the spilled water.
Thankfully, there were no further spills, but later in the day there was more vomit, not all of which made it into the pail. Laura stood there, pail in hand, coaching Kyle on the proper angle of approach necessary to ensure optimum target efficiency, while I grabbed a pile of washclothes from the kitchen and made some attempt to clean up the mess, starting with Kyle’s face. ((If there’s anything worse than a puking child, it’s a puking child with a runny nose. And diarrhea, but that didn’t play a factor in this particular incident.))
None of this seems to phase Kyle in the slightest. “I puked,” he says, then stands by with what little patience a four year old can muster and waits for us to clean up the mess. ((Or rather, that’s how it worked yesterday. I’m told that sometime this morning he announced his intention to be sick, trotted over to the pail, and proceeded to cantar oaxaca directly into it. They grow up so quickly.)) If we weren’t there to hold him back, he’d just play around the puddle on the carpet for a bit, pausing only to make a new, smaller puddle when the aftershock hit. This isn’t how adults do it: we slump with our heads over the toilet (or the pail), often huddling there long after the last heave has been hove, just in case. Never does the thought of getting up and running around wander anywhere in thinking distance; we just want to be still. When we barf, we might as well clear our calendar for the rest of the day. Wimps.