To think just an hour ago I was musing, “Hmm, what shall I write about today?” Never fear – my children, the world at large, will always provide me with material. Warning: ever think to yourself, Gee, I like Kelly’s writing – but sometimes she’s a little dark / edgy / bitchy for my taste? If that’s you, perhaps you should go look at kittenwar or something else.
So a little after ten this morning I hit the local we-have-everything store to get some buttons for the shirt I made my girlfriend’s child (birthday party today). I’m headed to the fabric section – smugly thinking of how well I’ve scheduled everything: clean kids, great gift, carpooling with my good bud, Bloody Mary brunch and good times headed my way. As I round the corner of the fabric bolts Nels makes this funny hiccup. Hitches once, twice. I stop, look at him on my hip and think, He’s not going to vomit, is he?
Oh yes indeedy. Copious, mucousy gluts of vomit. On me, on himself, on the floor (thank God he missed his sister, who is standing there with her mouth slightly open in awe). He’s not much of a puker but, apparently, making up for lost time in this ONE forty-five second timeframe.
Well, there is something about being puked on in public by your progeny – all over oneself, all over the child (suddenly, now, displaying ominous signs of possible illness – in that split second your mind’s eye can see the four-day lethargy on the horizon and remember how awful it was last time and that he lost two pounds in a week), and in such a way as to irrevocably alter your entire plan for the day – there’s something about this scenario that throws even the most veteran Mama into a sort of Twilight Zone tailspin of panic. Of course, in addition I am immediately the subject of attention from an obviously dismayed fabric clerk (we did soil her working area, and I am apologizing for that even as I make for the bathroom) and a kind fellow shopper who follows me into the bathroom carrying my parcel and I’m so overwhelmed it takes me a few minutes to even see her, as I’m sorting things out.
I thank the fellow shopper profusely for her concern and dismiss her from our mess, mop up Nels, strip both our offending clothing off, find a plastic bag for the clothes, and mop up the floor as well before he can track too much all over. “Boot, boot!” he panics, pointing at the vomit on the toe of his favorite ass-kicking red footgear. I pull the boots off, toss them into the bag, and assure him I will be cleaning them up ASAP. I tell my daughter we have to leave now – no riding on the coin-op carousel, no shopping for buttons, and now no birthday party or kiddie carpool either. I gather up the sick child now clad only in a diaper – everything else being soaked – I head out the door. About ten minutes, eighty paper towels, and at least one good mood evaporated, but we are reasonably clean to head for the hills and go home to a bath.
As I walk by the fabric department I raise my hand to the clerk and tell her I am so sorry for the mess when she cuts me off and says, “Could you clean that up? I can’t really do that.” This is awesome. My anxiety, adrenaline, and exasperation are all supplanted by Righteous Mama Rage. I say, “Are you kidding me? I have two young children – one who is nude and obviously ill – and we are covered in vomit.” I pause. Why not? I can do this. “OK,” I tell her, “I’m going to put them in the car and I will come back and do just that.” My voice is thundering. I am Kali and around my neck are the skulls of multitudes of sour-faced bitches like this one. I am going to clean her goddamn floor and annihilate her in the process and she is going to cower in fear.
I buckle my kids in the car, turn on the heat, and head back in. I am focused and calm, almost approaching the store floor cleaning in a loving, efficient way. Bucket with water, mop, paper towels. You are going to be able to eat off that floor. I approach the offending mess and the woman has obviously reconsidered her request: “Ma’am, if your kids are in the car you don’t have to do that. I can get someone else to do it.” That’s OK, I have no need to speak to her. I hate her. Not one ounce of compassion or common sense from her when it mattered, so she is dead to me. I take my time, wiping up cold vomit lovingly and with great attention to detail. I am calm, not shaking, not even upset. The old bird doesn’t help except to timidly point out a streak I missed. I can tell she’s scared of me. Another clerk hovers by, “Do you want some disinfectant for that water?” she asks. I tell her, levelly, “You can do that if you want. My kids are out in my car and one of them is very sick.” I am calm, but I also feel like crying. Looking back at this moment I wish I had remembered the kindness shown by the fellow shopper. All I am thinking at the time is how sometimes, with young children, no one gives a fuck, and no one helps, and when they fuck up they don’t know how to say, “I’m sorry” afterwards, and lend a hand.
I am done cleaning and I put back the cleaning supplies. My motions are focused and calm. I am glad I cleaned up our mess. We are now going home. At this point, in the car, I briefly reflect on and grieve for the plans I was looking forward to. I was going to head out to a friend’s house to celebrate. I was going to pick up my fun friend Abbi and take part in a family celebration. My children were going to play with their friends and I was going to have a bucket-sized Bloody Mary and, probably, Courtney’s fabulous Guinness chocolate cake.
Instead, I am heading home, one spotless floor later, one sick kid to tend to, and a piquant episode of demonic transformation at the expense of a callous shop worker.
All in a morning’s work.