I’m not talking about leaving your lunch behind when you head off for school or work here, I’m talking about vomiting. Puking. Barfing. Chundering. Praying to the Porcelain God. Regurgitating. Spewing. Upchucking. Throwing Up. Doing the technicolour yawn.
I have been blessed with a child who can do all of these things WITH STYLE. The girl has class. She can hit a moving target at three paces with a steady stream of highly toxic, foul smelling, stomach contents, the stench of which no washing machine or cleaning compound has ever been able to remove. This girl is a Master Hurler. Literally. She makes the kid in the exorcist look exactly like what she is: a kid. A mere novice in apprenticeship to renowned Masters of the high art of expelling one’s lunch with velocity.
I was under the happy illusion when Ryan was young that I knew all about projectile vomiting. As a very young baby, I’d have a Catching Cloth ready and waiting, optimum placement about two feet directly opposite his face, as I sat him up, ready to catch the excess contents of his stomach. I could never figure out whether he was just greedy and didn’t know when to stop eating or whether he actually had a problem swallowing his milk. He put on weight and he seemed happy, even the barfing didn’t bother him, so I just left him.
When he was about two weeks old, I went into Monsoon to buy a dress for a works Christmas dinner that we were going to. Ryan was screaming as I tried the dress on in the shop, and, like a moron, I picked him up to comfort him, at which point he vomited down the back of the dress, completely removing the dye from the fabric where the puke touched it. Needless to say, I had to buy the dress.
So, when Kira came along, a few smelly years later, I thought I knew all about baby puke. The boys had their fair share of tummy bugs, too, so even toddler and young child puking was old hat by then. Oh, the bliss of the ignorant.
Kira’s keen to remind me of the humiliation she suffered at my hands when she was sick one time at the age of about 8 or 9. We were in the car, having dropped the boys off at school. Kira wasn’t well but I couldn’t leave her at home by herself, so I popped her in the car in her nightie. As we were driving past chapel at school, in front of the senior school, Kira announced that she was going to be sick. I was well used to the split second warning that kids seem to think is enough time for their parents to help stop them be sick or get them to a puke-safe space, so oblivious to the long line of parents in their cars behind me, I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car and ran round to the passenger side, screaming, “Get out of the car! Now! Get out of the car!” I all but dragged Kira from her car seat and just about managed the save my car from stinking of puke for the next three years anytime it got even slightly warm inside, and since we live in Australia, that’s pretty much every day. Poor Kira was standing there, in her nightie, vomiting her guts up in full view of the 600 or so boys heading in for their days’ education. They, of course, thought it was great viewing and yelled encouragement for Kira to see how far she could get the cascade of stomach contents to go.
As she got older, Kira decided that merely vomiting wasn’t enough, after all, anyone could vomit. So, Kira added another dimension to it: vomit and then pass out. She was at breakfast one day in the boarding house and told the boarding mother that she didn’t feel well. Unaware of Kira’s propensity for stylish spewing, the boarding mother told Kira to finish her breakfast and then go and see Sister if she still didn’t feel well. Kira took another mouthful of breakfast and vomited all over the table, the other seven people and their breakfasts. Then she passed out. It was all that effort, see?
It was the start of the following school year and the new art block was finished. Kira’s class had their first lesson in the new classrooms, but Kira wasn’t feeling too good. She put her hand up to tell the teacher, but the teacher just told her to go and see Sister after class. Again, the bliss of the ignorant. Unfortunately, the proud new occupier of a brand new classroom was about to find out exactly what happens when Kira says she “doesn’t feel well”. Not ten seconds later, Kira spews forth and “incredible amount” (the teachers’ words) of vomit all over the new desks, chairs, floor, other students, the work that was on the desks, everyone’s shoes, and then passes out and falls off the chair onto the floor.
See what I mean? Style. The girl has style. I was called in to school to pick her up and because she was still feeling very wobbly from all that effort, I pushed her to the car in a wheelchair. Mobile phones are great. By the end of the day, the stories whizzing round the kids had gone from “Kira’s sick” through “she fell over and hurt herself” to “She’s got a broken leg! I saw them wheel her past to the ambulance!”
The crowning glory in this foul, smelly story happened when she was about six years old. We landed in Sydney after a holiday and for some reason known only to himself, John decided to put us all in a backpackers’ bus to take us to the five star hotel in Darling Harbour where we were staying. It was as hot as Hades outside and even hotter in the van. There was no air con, we were in the rush hour traffic, stopping and starting and lurching around, we couldn’t open the windows because of the fumes from the other cars and I was sitting on the back seat with Kira, wishing all sorts of slow, painful deaths would rain down on my idiot husband. The longer the journey went on, the greener Kira got. I grabbed the sand toys and wedged the biggest bucket I could find between the poor kids’ knees, all while telling my husband what I thought of his shite idea.
As soon as we pulled up at the hotel, I jumped out of the van, telling the others to get Kira out and into the shade. I wanted to check in as quickly as I could and get her into a cool bath in a cool room. I was trying to hurry the reception staff along, explaining the situation to them, when a tap came on my shoulder.
“Mum!” Jamie said
“Not now! Give me a minute, I’m almost done.”
Jamie was insistent, “Mum, Mum, you really need to look!”
I sighed impatiently, wondering what the hell it was that John couldn’t handle this time, and turned to look on a scene indelibly etched into my memory forever. This five star hotel had a huge, gorgeous, glass revolving door with brass fittings, lovingly kept clean and shiny at all times by the porters and concierge, and Kira had projectile vomited right into it. There was puke from the bottom to the top of this door, it had splattered over the glass surrounds and was happily spraying its way both into and out of the hotel with every rotation of the door, covering the floor, several guests and the door staff.
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...