A fun dinner conversation with the girls during the school year is to learn about the various diseases spreading through the classrooms. In particular, there are certain weeks of the academic calendar when the question, “Did anyone throw up in class today?” is not really out of line nor out of context. It’s perhaps one of the charms of first grade, at least from a distance, as I imagine children are just figuring out their own bodily functions and their key indicators. Too, although completely disgusting, I’m intrigued with the in-class vomit count simply because I’m fascinated with how a first grade teacher must balance all kinds of different issues, ranging from reading strategies and phonemic awareness to nose picking and post-lunch projecta. Yet, because I’m just so infantile, I probably am asking about the day-to-day vomit count in class simply because it’s like the retelling of a car wreck, but described matter-of-factly from a six-year-old perspective. In its own weird way it’s quite charming as G. will tell us what the vomiter was doing, where it went, how Ms. C. reacted, the magic stuff that the custodian put on the offending mass, etc.
Our kids have never been one of the in-school cases. (It is in their genes, though. I myself had an episode in first grade on the day of our Halloween party. I didn’t get to wear my C3PO costume that afternoon in the school parade.) Instead, 2:30 AM seems to be the preferred time of day for sickness. I suppose it’s good that they’re home, but the rude awakening and the subsequent dealing with and cleaning of is inconvenient. The surreal nature of parenting or 2:30 AM or vomit cleaning is particularly heightened when the three are combined — a trifecta of surreality.
One of the other special blessings that we’ve had in recent years is that this surreal event has happened at particularly inconvenient times. There is no convenient time, but this morning, at 2:30 AM, when G.’s physical self erupted without her mental self keeping up, my beautiful partner (more beautiful than ever, 2:30 AM with a vomiting child) and I both had the silent, slumped-shoulders-droopy-eyes-get-the-lysol resolve accompanying the unspoken thought that we probably wouldn’t be leaving for a camping trip this morning. That probably should go without saying, but we have a history of having A. go through the same trauma (2:30 AM) and us still hitting the road, albeit delayed, the next morning for Disneyland. It was a long trip; A. felt better by the next day to experience the happiest place on Earth. G. fell ill the next night, in the hotel, but was fine the following day. (Ever since we’ve warned people that the ice buckets in hotel rooms should probably not be assumed to be perfectly sanitary.) That was a great trip, an example of how children’s resolve to get to Disneyland and parents’ will to gamble on a 12 hour car ride could pay dividends.
This time, though, the risk seemed slightly higher. Being sick in a 4-person tent in the desert seems like too much of a risk. And, now that I’m staying home with G. for the morning, I’m not out getting food and wood and supplies for the trip. Maybe we’ll leave tomorrow and have a shorter trip. Or maybe we’ll take it as a sign that some trips just aren’t worth the adventure, no matter what kind of story you’d be able to tell afterwards. I’ll limit our stories to those that take place inside a first grade classroom, or even a hotel room at 2:30 AM.