One of the chief universal aspects of parenting – very intense at least in the first, oh say decade of caring for young children – is the constancy of revolving concerns around the “Mouth-Gut-Anus”; shopping for groceries, preparing food, cleaning food up, a few years of diapers (an endeavor I didn’t much mind then but would like to avoid here on out), the various maladies and preferences our children display in their relentless puppy-like growth spurts. In today’s example I am privileged to work around the rare scenario where used foodstuffs are expelled the atypical way: yes, vomiting. Painstakingly shaking out pillowcases outside then washing in cold then hot water – ad infinitum, scrubbing the floor, taking off a mattress cover and shampooing the foam underneath.
More unpleasant than today’s activities cleaning the bedding, blankets, and clothing aftermath was last night, listening to my son every couple hours groan, awaken, cry and scream while choking on his own vomit. I alone knew something like this was coming; I sensed an illness within him yesterday when he woke up. His head was hot, his nose slightly runny but congested, his mannerisms peevish. By turns last night Ralph and I were up with him in that kind of effortless strength parents are provided, running baths, getting clean underwear, snuggling and reassuring the child. I remember, dimly, from my own childhood being kept up with an earache and the presence of my parents, the knowledge they were always there for me when I suffered.
Nels sleeps now (it’s after 11 o’clock) and I feel glad for his restorative powers (my children seem to possess in hardiness rarely seen in adults). Upon his waking I’ll bundle him up, mittens and all, for a bike ride out in the brisk clear autumn day.