We left Chicagoland today and started our long drive home to Florida. Before we left, Eric came over to say goodbye. And awesome man that he is, he brought us donuts and iced coconut coffee with one Splenda and milk. (You know they care when they get your coffee right.) After saying goodbye to him and my mom, who also came by, we hit the road, but before we could really get going, Jackson begged me to stop at Jarosch Bakery for cookies. I stopped and ran in for our last taste of Chicago. They had big butter cookies decorated with either Sox or Cubs logos. Since five of my kids are Sox fans (I know, I know, I’m a parenting failure), I grabbed five Sox cookies and one Cubs cookie for Brooklyn. Although, in retrospect, I have no idea why I didn’t grab all Cubs cookies just to mess with them because I’m mean like that. And if they had refused to eat the Cubs cookies, there would’ve been more for me!
So I passed out the cookies to each of my kids and we took off. Soon after hopping on the tollway, Brooklyn said that her tummy hurt and she didn’t want to finish her cookie. I told her we’d save it for later. No big deal. Brooklyn’s not much of an eater. It’s pretty common to hear her say her tummy hurts after three bites of anything. The girl subsists on a couple bites of chocolate syrup, mac-n-cheese, and edamame each day.
It only took fourteen hours to get through Chicago so we were making pretty good time when I thought I heard Brooklyn cry. I yelled at Austin and Savannah who were both listening to music with their headphones. “Is Brooklyn crying? What’s wrong?”
At the same time, Austin and Savannah screamed, “She’s throwing up!” I was very proud of myself for not swerving into oncoming traffic (which was my first instinct, of course). My second impulse was to pull onto the shoulder, jump out of the van, bid Brooklyn adieu, and continue on foot from there.
I had to drive another four or five miles to get to an exit. All the while I continued to desperately murmur, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” in the hopes that it really would be okay. Although I was pretty certain it would most definitely not be okay.
I pulled into a parking space at the rest stop and we all jumped out of the car as if (well, as if someone had just puked in the car), leaving a crying Brooklyn in a pool of vomit.
“I can’t clean it!” I wailed. This was followed by everyone crying, “I’m not doing it! She’s your kid!” I briefly contemplated calling Eric to rescue me, but figured asking him to drive four hours to clean puke was probably not something a friend should ever do. And well, it was over 100 degrees and making Brooklyn sit in the puke-car in 100 degree weather while waiting for Eric is probably considered child abuse.
I considered for a moment that he might be a psycho who would stab me right there in the parking lot, but upon further reflection decided that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. At least I’d get out of cleaning up puke.
Savannah rolled her eyes at me and got Brooklyn out of the van. Brooklyn walked to the back of the car where I was searching in the bags for wipes and clean clothes. She stood there crying while I alternately searched for wipes and gagged. I knew I had to get Brooklyn’s disgusting clothes off her, but I didn’t pack my hazmat suit and didn’t know where to begin. Meanwhile, Savannah is dragging vomit-covered blankets and pillows out of the van.
“What should I do with these?” she asked, holding them as far away from her body as possible.
“Burn them,” I answered, still trying to figure out how to get Brooklyn undressed without touching her or smearing the vile stuff over her head.
“Mom!” Savannah insisted.
“Okay, just throw it out!”
“Seriously? Can I throw it out?”
At the mention of throwing her pillow away, Brooklyn started crying more.
“I’ll buy you a new pillow, Oat! Promise,” I swore as I handed her some wipes and instructed her to clean off her arms because every time I tried to wipe her down, I nearly threw up myself.
At some point, Savannah and I decided we couldn’t pull Brooklyn’s shirt over her head so Savannah tried ripping it off. When that didn’t work, I asked the guy parked next to us if he happened to have a pair of scissors that I could borrow to cut my daughter’s pukish shirt off her. I figured he’d give me a horrified look and speed off, but instead, he looked slightly amused. He apologized for not having any scissors, but offered me a knife instead. I considered for a moment that he might be a psycho who would stab me right there in the parking lot, but upon further reflection decided that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. At least I’d get out of cleaning up puke.
As the guy leaned back into his car to grab his knife (why was he traveling with a knife anyway???), Savannah announced that she’d called upon her hulk-like strength and ripped Brooklyn’s shirt down the back. Eventually, we got her cleaned up and changed. We threw out one towel, Brooklyn’s shirt and capris (thankfully, they were old and getting small anyway), and two of Brooklyn’s pillows. We couldn’t get her to part with a blanket her great grandmother made for her so we tripled bagged it and buried it in the back of the van. If it starts stinking, it goes out the window.
We headed back down the road through Indiana.
I asked Savannah, “There wasn’t barf on the seat or floor?”
“Nope, she kept it all on herself.”
“Wow, Brooklyn! Good job throwing up on yourself instead of the car!” everyone agreed.
“And your barf wasn’t too smelly!”
“Yeah, good job, Brooklyn!”
“You know why she threw up, Mom?”
“I’m hoping it’s just because she had donuts and half a cookie for breakfast and her tummy couldn’t handle that much garbage,” I answered.
Brooklyn took her head out of the bag she was holding “just in case” and piped up. “I had gummy bears too!”
“Seriously, Brooklyn? That’s probably why you threw up.”
Savannah joined in. “Yeah Mom, she threw up a whole gummy bear and it was stuck to her shirt! And her puke was blue from the Cubs cookie!”
“Oh my gosh, can we stop talking about this before I throw up?!” I begged.
A lightbulb went on with Savannah. “Mom, I know why she threw up! It’s because her cookie was poisoned with the Cubs. She was the only one who ate a Cubs cookie! If she was a Sox fan, she’d be fine. Cubs are poison!”
I rolled my eyes. I’ll never hear the end of this one.
If you liked this, here are some more favorites from Dawn.