I'm blogging in the dark. Specifically, I'm sitting cross-legged on a mattress on the floor of my three-year-old's room. Every time I hear the slightest irregularity in his breathing, I bolt up and hold a bucket next to his face.
A three-year-old doesn't have the physical strength or mental discipline to have any kind of control over where and when they throw up. Here's a verbatim transcript of one of my conversations with my son tonight:
Usually-insane-3-year-old: Daddy, I think I- BLAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!
Me: (holding a now-full bucket) Are you okay, buddy?
Usually-insane-3-year-old: (points into bucket) That's a kind of juice. From my body.
You'll notice I was prepared. I knew something was wrong the moment he started talking to me, because he had spoken two words without mentioning or touching his dick.
The trouble started earlier today. My wife called me at work to tell me that our three-year-old was writhing on the floor of a gymnasium bathroom, howling that his tummy hurt. We'd seen this before, so we knew that it was only a matter of time before he felt better. But there would be a price; someone or something we loved would be sprayed with vomit. The gods demand sacrifice.
My wife raced him home, periodically whipping her (newish) car to the side of the road when a new bout of stomach pain hit our son. But the pain would pass, and nothing would happen. And they made it home without incident.
And by "home," I mean "one block from home." And by "without incident" I mean, "he re-enacted the alleyway scene from Team America."
I was still trapped in traffic, trying to get home, when I learned that, post-vomiting, my son was now playing happily. But my wife's car had been compromised. And because I had a grosser childhood, it is my job to deal with things like this.
I pulled my car into the garage and stepped out with all the intensity and focus of a Hollywood action hero. I strode, unhesitating, to my wife's car, with the same mixture of melancholy and total resolve you see on Jason Bourne's face before he takes out an entire Italian police station.
I surveyed the scene. It was bad... but not too bad, actually. The mess was entirely contained to the car seat. Well... wait. Except for that one corner. Near where the car seat clips in. There seemed to be some overflow.
That car seat had to come out, right then, and the clip had obviously been contaminated. But hands can be washed. With icy resolve, I reached down into the seat cushion... and into destiny.
The LATCH clip slot was completely filled with an apparently bottomless pool of my poor son's erstwhile lunch. Completely filled. Brimming even. And it was cold.
Have you ever had to unclip one of those fucking latch clips? Not the good kind, where it's basically like a seatbelt clip. The shitty kind, where you have to simultaneously push the clip forward while twisting it sideways WHILE squeezing down on a sharp metal tab WHILE YOUR HAND IS SOAKED IN MOTHERFUCKING ICE COLD CHILD VOMIT.
I could not get it unlatched. Could not. It took me 5 attempts. On the final, successful attempt, I realized the problem was that I was not pushing my hand deep enough into the slot to get the clip unhooked.
I did what I had to do. Then, carrying the thousand-pound seat at arm's length while running and gagging at the maximum possible rate, I flung the seat into our yard.
I went inside, washed my hands, put on latex gloves, and returned to the garage, wherein I staged an elaborate one-man recreation of the car-cleaning scene from Pulp Fiction. "This is some repugnant shit!" I screamed more than once into the stinky darkness within the crevices of the backseat.
I spent over an hour exploring the maddening, Lovecraftian horror of that seat. Its unexpected, non-Euclidian geometries. Its ever unfolding, fractal crenulations, each revealing a new abominable combination of cheese and apple juice.
Cleaning that car was the purest act of love I have ever performed for my wife. If it had been my car, I would have given up after 20 minutes. "Well, I guess my car smells like college now!" I would have cheerfully exclaimed.
I did everything anyone could have done, short of disassembling the entire backseat. Her car is almost as good as new.
I finished just as the sun set, just in time to put my kids to bed. Our little guy threw up again a few hours after going to sleep. So now I'm stationed on the floor in here, unable to sleep, listening for changes in his breathing, waiting with the bucket.
And the thing I want most of all, more than sleep, more than an end to vomit cleanup, more than a break from the neck and shoulder cramps caused by this shitty mattress...
is for this little guy's tummy to feel better.
Get better, buddy. I'll be here until you get better.