My kids have taught me so much. They've taught me to be more open minded. They've taught me to embrace diversity. Their existence has encouraged me to be more patient, more kind, more loving. To be a better person for them to look up to.
Freddie, in particular, has taught me to never, ever, EVER, underestimate the significance of an upset stomach.
We spent the holiday in Connecticut at Clif's sister's house...Caitlyn. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving spent surrounded by family. Plenty of cousin playtime and snuggles. It was so nice to be away from work and life and just hang out with people we love.
We decided to leave Saturday. Avoid Sunday traffic. We'd drive at night. Have an early dinner with Clif's brother, Cameron, and his family. Then hit the road around 6. We'd be home by 11 or 12 and then have all day Sunday to relax and get ready for the upcoming week.
The universe had other plans in mind for us.
A bug took root over the holidays. Cohen got sick Thanksgiving night, but it was short lived. I chalked it up to no actual dinner and a bunch of pie and chocolate. Because why would a kid eat turkey and stuffing when there is blueberry pie, whipped cream, and amazing Thanksgiving cupcakes made by Auntie Amanda?
He got sick, and then he was fine. No other symptoms. But then Saturday, some grown ups started feeling ill and getting sick. And then Freddie started complaining of a crampy stomach on Saturday afternoon. He kept saying he did not need to throw up, that it didn't feel sick, it hurt. Looking back, I should have known.
We sat at the restaurant, and he went through another fit of crampy stomach.
"Freddie, do you need to go potty?" I asked.
"Freddie, are you going to throw up? Maybe we should go to the bathroom," Clif suggested.
He looked at me, and I saw it. I saw that glassy-eyed monster behind his pupils.
"Let's go Freddie, let's go..." I urged.
And then it happened. At the table that our food had just been placed on, the monster let loose, and so did everything he had eaten in the last 8 hours. All over him, all over Cohen, in front of the entire restaurant.
I had never been so humiliated...except for that other time that Freddie spewed all over Fuddruckers in the middle of Ainsley's end-of-year soccer party. That was also pretty embarrassing. I saw the monster then too. But he never shows up until it's too late to maneuver a 5 year old out of a booth or long table and into a bathroom across the restaurant.
So we cleaned up. Changed clothes. Cohen tattled that Freddie had spit on him. Thanks Cohen. I hadn't noticed. Freddie felt much better, a bit hungry.
"Do we stay?" I asked. I didn't want to, but wasn't sure what to do with a 5 hour drive stretched out before us.
Before anyone could answer, my sweet little nephew, just 14 months old, followed suit. Took after the big cousin that I'm sure he'll look up to one day. Landon's monster let loose as ferocious as Freddie's had.
"We gotta go" I said, and Clif promptly flagged the waitress for the bill and boxes.
We spent the next two - three hours waiting for the next one to puke. Would Ainsley come down with it? Was Cohen's random puking on Thanksgiving related? Would he still go through the virus? Would Clif or I succumb? Turned out it was Freddie, every time. We pulled over two more times to use the bathroom, to clean up, to empty the puking trash bin. The third time we were still north of Philly. Still 30 miles from the Delaware bridge. We were done. The hotels, with accessible toilets and warm baths and cozy beds, were calling our names.
We spent the night in Westhampton, NJ, off of the turnpike. We got up and continued our trek home, through normal post-Thanksgiving traffic. We got home after 2, tired and hungry and annoyed.
So Freddie has taught me to never ignore a sour stomach. He's also taught me to be flexible. And he's taught me to ignore those judgy, disgusted looks from strangers in a restaurant. Maybe they're not what they seem. Because as we were gathering our things, our puke covered clothes, our green kids, our luke-warm food...the woman at the table next to us said "Hon, I think you forgot his shoes." And the table across from us the woman smiled and said "Hang in there mom." And the manager and waitresses treating it like it was a normal occurrence. They got a big tip.
When I think about it, how would I react? If a kid started barfing just 10 feet from me and my kids and my food? I probably would not revel in the experience. Would not rush to help. It would probably take a minute to let it sink in realize that it could happen to any of us.
So thank you Freddie. Thank you for throwing up all over everyone and everything. You taught me a valuable lesson once again. Next time though...let's just talk it out. No need for all that mess.