Friday, March 11, 2016

Train Up A Child (To Make Sure They Puke In The Toilet)

When I became a father (with a shout out to my wife), I envisioned that there would be lessons I would have to teach my child: i.e. walking, talking, reading, writing, riding a bike (again, shout out to my wife).

Then there were the "manly" things which I could impart wisdom like shaving and understanding women. (OK, I may have asked my wife for some advice about women, so AGAIN, shout out to her.)

One area I didn't count on needing to teach was that when you are sick and need to throw up, do so in the toilet. It was, and has been, a real shocker that lesson has had a hard time sticking.

Let me pause right now to say that if you are squeamish, you may want to stop here. I mean, didn't you read the title?

We've all been there, right?
Let me also pause to say that when our children are young, i.e. infants and toddlers and even little kids in the 5-7 age range, I can give a pass when they are overcome with sickness and the sudden uncontrollable urge to expel everything they have consumed since breakfast two days earlier hits them. This may happen in their bed in the middle of the night. It may be in the backseat of the car. It may be walking down aisle 7 at the local grocery store.

Accidents happen.

We have understood that concept since our oldest threw up blue (yes BLUE) vomit on our beige carpet when he was about 4 years old.

It was a tragic case of our entire family coming down with food poisoning and its cruel time-delayed reaction. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were at home. We had gone to church earlier in the day, and was our religious custom, my wife and I fed said oldest fruit chews to keep him quiet during the service.

Now, said oldest child, at the time, was obsessed (yes, OBSESSED) with "Blue's Clues." You may
remember the Nickelodeon show of a guy named Steve who had a blue dog named, oddly enough, Blue. Blue would communicate with Steve by playing a game where Blue would leave paw prints as clues to tell Steve that he was hungry, needed a bath, wanted to go to Vegas, etc.

And as part of the show's craze, there was ample marketing of toys, clothes and fruit snacks. But I digress.

So we'd basically been loading up this 4-year-old vomit cannon for half an hour with blue gummy candies completely unaware of the impending Mt. Vesuvius v. Pompeii scene that would play out in our living room.

But again, accidents happen.

Then there are other times when you figure a person has to have some early warning about what's going to happen. I mean even when I've been sick, I can sense when things are about to go bad.

My oldest still, for whatever the reason, hasn't truly caught on to the concept of doing a mad dash to the bathroom and then, when properly placed over a receptacle that can handle such a deposit as we are discussing here, well... you know...

To his credit, he has made it into the bathroom. But the part where he gets into a pre-heave position over the toilet is what we're (and I mean we're) lacking.

The latest incident occurred when I was downstairs, minding my own business and watching "Vikings" on The History Channel, when I heard the thundering steps that only a 16 year old male can make go into the bathroom and shut the door. What followed was a mixture of moaning, grunting, howling and sounds of a hard April rain hitting the sidewalk by my living room window.

Horrified, I sat still; not wanting to engage yet concerned with what I would find if I did. Then from the bathroom I heard in a husky, panting voice ask for ... a stool.

A stool?

"So I can sit down!" He was frantic at this point.

While I was still trying to understand why he needed to sit (to take a break?!?), my lovely, loving wife emerged from our bedroom, where she had been watching either "Downton Abbey" or "Real Housewives of Atlanta," and informed me in her usual commanding way that could order young men to storm the beaches at Normandy or tell me that I "iron wrong" that, and I am quoting her, "I've got this!"

It was immediately proceeded by her running back into our bedroom, her hand clutched over her mouth, and telling me, again I am quoting her, "I don't got this!"

So I lumber upstairs, armed with paper towels, beach towels, Lysol spray, and a bucket (for emergency mobile use), to tackle whatever was on the other side of the bathroom door that was so bad that my wife did not use proper grammar.

It (and I don't think I have to tell you what "it" is or was) was on the floor, the counter, the mirror, the shower curtain, and toilet seat. Not in the toilet, but on the seat.

"Are you alright?" I asked in my usual loving tone.

"Where's my stool?" was the reply from my sick, disoriented son who didn't realize the gravity of the present situation.

At that moment, my usual loving tone departed from me. As I surveyed the carnage I explained that he did not need a stool. That people who are sick and throwing up do not need stools. What they DO need is a toilet bowl in which to leave the remnants of Captain Crunch, school cafeteria chicken nuggets, chalupas or whatever the HECK THAT IS, Gatorade and God knows what else that was in your stomach.

Full of wrath, I wiped and swiped and disinfected and sprayed and tried to keep myself from being sick too. I informed him that, and I am quoting myself, "In my day, we made it to the bathroom. We made it to the toilet and we hunched over the toilet when we threw up, like man is supposed to do!"
Worshiping a the porcelain alter.

I then went on to explain that if we felt we needed to take a break but were not ready to leave the bathroom or didn't think it was wise to do so, we would sit on the edge of the bathtub. OR if we were tired or exhausted, then it was permissible to even kneel by the toilet bowl or even recline against a wall. But we were not "privy" to such luxuries as a stool or chairs. You might get a cold washcloth for your head, but that was it, and there may need to be a doctor's bill at the culmination of it all to justify soiling a bathroom in such a way.

So here I am now. In a little more than a year, the oldest will be leaving the nest and entering college (God willing). And there will likely come a time when he will need to spend some period by a toilet bowl in contemplation over actions that have left him in a state in which he is, shall we say "unwell." Hopefully, he will be able to have learned and take with him the lessons of handling one's sickness and the proper etiquette that goes along with tossing one's cookies.

So my prayer is that in each day he will grow wiser. Or that his college roommate and/or future wife is nice and understanding and isn't one who "don't got this!" Because at that time, I may not got this either.

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