Saturday, March 12, 2011

Puke Jail and the Family Pop-corn Bowl

As many of you know, I've rejoined the working force.  Well, sort of.  I teach bike safety at area Elementary schools.  This is one job that is exploding with fun on a daily basis.  Unfortunately it is also oft times exploding with germs.  Sometimes I see the culprits, sitting criss-cross applesauce next to me hacking and sneezing or picking and chewing, while my team-mate, Julia teaches up front.  Othertimes, it's more anonymous.  Like I put one of our 15 bikes in the van at the end of the day knowing that at least 200 kids touched the handlebars and I shudder.  I loves the kids, but geez.  Some of us as parents are just not doing our jobs when it comes to personal hygiene.  And this comes from a woman who doesn't shower on a regular basis if it means an additional cup of coffee or two more miles on my bike or forgetting to check Friday folders until Monday morning. 

Being a mom definitely makes you less of a germaphobe in some ways, but more of an overkill one in others.  For instance, I can't stand when kids hack all over themselves and their neighbors, but I still will accept a full body hug from said child if I think it will boost their confidence.  I take that hug and then I bring the infestation home to my own family who are blindsided by the sheer amount of nasties the first two weeks of every work season.  I got it last week and it finally wormed it's way to Bella. 

As far as it went, it was pretty mild.  Bella is at that age where she can mostly make it either into "the bucket" (um, which also coincidentally doubles as the family popcorn bowl) or the bathroom across the hall.  Many years ago, however, we were not so lucky.  I remember hearing a few coughs over the monitor, and the next morning when I went in to wake Bella up, walls were coated.  Literally coated with puke.  I swooped Bella up, ran to the bathtub and put her in the bath while simultaneously throwing up myself since I was then pregnant with Gabby and "morning sickness" took on new meaning that day. 

Now it's old hat.  Like every parent on the second or third night of a bout, we wait at night in a semi-state of sleep for the inevitable sound of coughing, the door being thrown open, the lid of the toilet thrown up and a fire-hose of whatever is left in her emaciated empty-fevered belly.  I do a lot of laundry, use an inordinate amount of bleach wipes and that's about it.  The only real drawback to our girls being sick now is that it puts us all into "puke-jail".  Puke-jail is similar to what young moms refer to as "nap-jail".  Which is when you'd really like to be outside or at the park or at the grocery store or anywhere but IN YOUR HOUSE, but you can't because your child is napping.  And that is precious time.  You don't want to ruin it, but sometimes it limits your social arena.  You find yourself waiting for the garbage trucks or postal carrier just so you can open your door and wave to a grown-up and feel like you got some human connection. 

Puke-jail is the older mom's burden.  Your kids are in the over 6 range and life is definitely a lot easier than it was with babies those first few years.  Loads of self-sufficiency, yet they still love you and think you are the best at Just Dance 2 (don't feel bad...I really am). When puke-jail hits, it hits hard.  Suddenly your travel ban is back in place.  You fear walking to get the mail two doors down because even though your child can MOSTLY make it to the bathroom, it's not a given.  And you haven't forgotten what that can be like. 

So on a gorgeous spring day, 3/4 of our family is stuck in puke jail.  I encouraged Aaron to go for a ride with a friend after surviving a nasty business trip this week.  There is no need for ALL of us to be here.  Recently Bella floated her pale, ghost-like self down the stairs.  It was a pathetic effort, but an effort nonetheless.   She made it to the landing.   I carried her fiery, little twig body over to the coach, re-wet her washcloth, grabbed the popcor...I mean PUKE bowl and turned on Wallace and Grommit.  I brewed myself another pot of coffee and am ready to settle 1:25 p.m. 

"Thanks, Mama."
"You got it, baby."

Puke jail isn't so bad.  In fact, at this age it's kind of nice.

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