Note: If you tend to get squeamish about things like vomit, this may not be the post for you.
As a general rule, I do not consider myself to be germophobic. I rarely use hand sanitizer, preferring the old standby of soap and water. I feel that soap and water get you clean and still allow you to be exposed to some germs, which allows you to build up immunities in the long run. I have no proof to back up my claims, just my opinion. I also have no problem eating food served in buffets despite the fact that hundreds of people have potentially touched what I am about to put on my plate. I am not obsessive about my cleaning. I like things clean and organized to be sure, but I’m also not the person cleaning the grout with a toothbrush either. With three kids I’ve learned to live with a certain level of mess in my life. I change dirty diapers with disgusting regularity, and while I admit they’re not the most fun to change I am also not overly grossed out by them.
A more accurate word for what I am is queunliskanphobic. Loosely translated, I fear spit and saliva. Yes, I know, one of the most absurd and bizzare fears on the planet. Doubly so when you stop to consider I have three drooly, spitty children living with me, and that they’re not adopted. But for the most part, I’ve been able to deal with their slobbery nature. We just have a few rules in the house to minimize my discomfort. 1. I don’t share my drink, ever. Once your lips have contaminated my cup I will waste the entire drink and get a new one rather than drink after you. If I even think you may have drank out of my cup and have no proof, I will generally be unable to finish the drink and have to get a new one. 2. Shared silverware is not an option. My kids learn at a very young age to keep their pudgy, slimy fingers off of my plate. I will share food with them, but on my terms. Their fork, not mine. And their fork only touches what will be going into their mouth. Never something that will later be going into my own.
I did have to deal with each of them drooling as they teethed, and as most close to me can attest it was a painful experience which included many trips to the bathroom to scrub my arm, hand, shoulder, or other body part infected with their slobber. But now that all are beyond that phase things have gotten relatively better, but for one final thing. Vomit. Vomit is just food infested saliva in my eyes. And cleaning it up is one of the worst jobs I can think of. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that yesterday Brendan came down with the barfing flu.
One would think that by 9 you’d be able to recognize the signs that you’re about to get sick. Brendan’s been pretty good at hitting the bucket for a few years now, so I figured we were pretty well past the point where I’d have to clean up after him. Not so much. He started my morning off on a high note by losing his breakfast all over himself, the table, and the floor of my kitchen. And let me tell you just how much milk infused vomit can stink up an entire house.
I threw the vomit soaked clothing into the washer, and prepared myself for a very long day. As is the standard in our house, I layered the couches with bedsheets and towels, grabbed an ice cream bucket (our standard barf bucket–it had a handle which futher insulates me from potentially touching the germy, nasty mess) and got Brendan settled with a pillow and blanket. He was banned from playing his video games because I was afraid he’d vomit on the device and ruin it permanently. As it turned out I was being a little over cautious on that front because Brendan ended up not vomiting for the rest of the morning or afternoon.
Around dinner time we figured we were probably on the tail end of the illness. I believed Brendan truly was ill as he was pretty lethargic on the couch all day and didn’t have much of an appetite. We decided to have GYO (Get Your Own) for dinner which basically means everyone gets to decide what they want for dinner so long as we have it available in the house. It is one of the kids favorite things to do for dinner, and generally allows us to clean out some leftovers from the refrigerator. Brendan said he wanted something more substantial than the crackers he’d been munching on all day, but also something that might be easy on his stomach as he wasn’t feeling 100% yet. He finally decided that macaroni and cheese fit that bill, and sounded pretty tasty.
We sat down to dinner about 25 minutes later. Matt and Cameron splitting some leftover lasagna, Brendan and Kaylee splitting the box of macaroni and cheese, and used some leftover hamburger to make up a batch of nachos. As dinner progressed, I noticed Brendan was eating slower and slower. Taking longer and longer pauses between each bite. I asked him if he was feeling okay, and told him he didn’t need to finish his dinner if he didn’t want to. He said he wanted to, and ate another bite or two. But then he started gagging, and I knew his dinner was going to be shortlived. Matt and I quickly encouraged him to grab his bucket which was across the room by the couch. He ran and grabbed it before he got sick. He then ran toward the bathroom carrying the bucket.
Moments after hitting the bathroom, we heard the sound of him vomiting. Well, at least he’d hit either the bucket or the toilet. That’ll make cleanup nice and easy. Matt excused himself from the table to take Brendan a drink and get him re-settled on the couch. As soon as he arrived on the scene he called for me and dinner was quickly forgotten. Brendan, it seemed, had been unable to decide which place he should vomit, the bucket or the toilet and his indecision had caused a terrible mess. He began vomiting into the sink, then deciding that wasn’t a very smart thing to do, he tried to finish off in the bucket which was covered on both the outside and inside.
Matt hurried to get Brendan changed, settled, and give him a fresh bucket; leaving me to clean up the bathroom. I know what you’re thinking, why knowing my horrible aversions to spit and vomit would Matt leave that mess to me. There are two reasons. First because I am the stay at home parent. Cleaning up the mess in the bathroom has the potential to share Brendan’s germs. Like it or not because I don’t work I generally try to be the person in line to get those germs because it is so difficult for Matt to miss work if he’s in the middle of a class, and he just started a new class on Monday. Second because I wouldn’t let him clean it up. Much as I hate it, I also have to be secure in the knowledge that it is cleaned up to my level of satisfaction.
And my level of satisfaction calls for bleach. And lots of it. I spent the next 45 minutes scrubbing every surface of the kids bathroom, whether it had been hit or not, with a bucket of searing hot bleach water. I’m sure there are hundreds of different ways that I could have cleaned up that mess, and I’m quite certain I did more than was necessary. But to do anything less than what I did would have just bothered me. Every time I would have walked into their bathroom I would have imagined little germs clinging to every surface. And had Matt done the cleaning it would have been the same problem. He could have done exactly what I did, and I would have had a worry in the back of my mind that he missed a spot. When I get like that I just have to do it myself or forever be unsatisfied. Matt, not being a fan of vomit himself, was more than happy to hand over the cleaning reins to me.
Needless to say, Brendan ended up missing a second day of school today. He’s seeming much healthier, and has actually kept down two meals today. Here’s hoping my vomit cleaning skills are done being put to the test for the season.