This morning my house was barf-central.
My five-year-old son caught a stomach bug and heaved in his bed while sleeping. My wife had to take care of him, though, because when she told me what happened, my reaction was weak and says a lot about me.
Not sure why, but as soon as vomit is mentioned, let alone witnessed or sniffed, my pharyngeal reflex starts firing up. It gets me gagging like that English dad in the viral video who tries to change his baby’s diaper but can’t stop retching. (Link to Video) What’s sweet (and hilarious) about that guy is his sincere effort to finish the job despite his body doing its best to stop him.
I’m missing whatever gene parents are supposed to have that allows them to ignore the sights and smells of their kid’s stomach contents. My mom has it, and so does my wife. They can shut down their own reactions to grossness so they can comfort a child in the midst of their bodily fluids.
When my son threw up for the second time today, my wife was away taking a smoke break. This forced me to stand there and watch my boy’s spot-on imitation of Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote (that huge restaurant patron in The Meaning of Life). (Link to Video) When my son finally took a break, I ran gagging to get my wife.
She took over, but I was disappointed with my weakness.
Next we discovered that Miss Amelia, our cat, had also been throwing up this morning. On my wife’s shoes. On the dining room table. When my wife tried to show me the mess I immediately started to gag again and had to leave the room before I helped re-create the Stand By Me ‘Barf-O-Rama’ scene. (Link to Video)
She’ll have to clean the cat’s mess up, too.
For a moment, I felt guilty for being so weak in front of the woman I married. It’s embarrassing when she sees something about me I wish weren’t true, like that time she asked me to open a spaghetti sauce jar and I couldn’t. I’m a big man who’s supposed to be strong and fearless, yet here I am gagging like a weakling when my family needs me.
That’s when I heard my wife scream.
It was one of those screams that makes you break out into a run. You hear it and picture a million bad things at once, all having to do with someone you love being injured or killed. When I got into the bathroom, my wife was up on the edge of the tub holding my son and pointing at the floor.
“Kill it, kill it, kill it.”
‘It’ was bigger than my thumb and sitting at the base of the toilet. We live in Texas, and what a lot of other states call cockroaches we call ‘water bugs’ because we have a lot of them and it makes it sound less trashy. And like everything in Texas this water bug was huge and he was staring up at us like he expected privacy.
My wife was going out of her mind.
“Kill it, kill it, kill it.”
For some reason these bugs terrify her. She had stomped on one as a child and a day later it got up and skittered away. Since then she considers these mini-dinosaurs her worst nightmare.
They’re just bugs to me, so I stepped on that big guy until I heard him *pop*. I scooped him up with a wad of tp and flushed him away for good. My wife climbed down off the tub still holding my barf covered son and gave me a hug.
“You’re my hero.”
The smell of the puke made me gag again, so I excused myself while she finished cleaning up my son, who apparently had just finished round three. Turns out my wife and I make a great team – she does barf, I do bugs. Where each of us is weak and reluctant, the other is strong and willing. Our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. My wife already knew this.
- Mike Lukas
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