I went to the store for bread and bought a dryer instead. The story begins when my seven year old son got sick in the grocery store. He didn’t get a little sick. It was full blown exorcism sick. It happened with no warning, while surrounded by the delightful smells of fresh breads, cakes and pastries in the bakery section.
The first round hit a beautifully displayed tier of baked goods. The appealing smells was instantly replaced by the unmistakable smell of vomit. The second wave of sick came quickly and was deposited primarily in my purse. The third round hit everything within a four foot radius. That little human had done some serious damage.
My first priority was Lincoln. He was surprised and didn’t feel so good. I comforted my child while I assessed the scene that we were in the heart of.
PukeFest (that’s what I have named it) happened on a Saturday afternoon during prime grocery shopping time. The store was packed and the biohazard zone we had created was only about 20 feet from the entrance. People rushed by, trying to dodge the puke and simultaneously avoid eye contact with the two people covered in it. It was a foul scene and the customers wrinkled their noses and covered their mouths. Knowing that we were the cause of so much disgust led to momentary panic. A quick survey of the area did not reveal a hole Link and I could crawl into. Immediately, I realized that there was no time for embarrassment or shame and I had to spring into parent mode. I soothed my sick child while apologizing to the horrified people walking by. It was then that our savior appeared in the form of an employee from the floral department. When she realized what was happening she brought me one of the buckets that they use to display flowers in and placed one of those “something gross happened so stay away from here” cones at ground zero. Once I knew someone had the area covered, I whisked Link to the bathroom to assess the damage.
Lincoln was covered from his hair to his sneakers. I took off his coat, shirt and shoes and gave him my sweater (which had been spared by my coat). He sat in a chair, feeling sick and dazed while looking ridiculous in my oversized clothes, while I wiped down our pants and my shoes as best I could with a package of complimentary baby wipes that were in the bathroom. I shoved all of our contaminated clothes and my purse in a couple of grocery bags, then we left the bathroom. I walked out with my head held high, carrying a puke bucket, 2 bags of puke filled clothing and a sick 7 year old child. We walked back to the scene of the incident and thanked the man who was given the job of cleaning up the bakery. I apologized and he smiled at us and asked if my son was ok. Elbow deep in a strangers mess and this man was smiling and expressing concern. This kind man hid his disgust and showed us compassion. I held back the tears his kindness (compounded by the stress of the last 10 minutes) had stirred in me. After sputtering a few more apologies, we left before I magnified the awkwardness of the situation by bursting into tears in the same spot my son had puked just minutes before. I was going to leave that store with some self-respect. There wasn’t much left, but I was clinging to that tiny sliver like it was the last piece of pie on earth.
Out we went, into the freezing temps, me in a T-shirt, Lincoln in my huge sweater and no shoes. We loaded up our puke bucket and stinky bags and started the thirty minute ride home. There were more bouts of sick in the car that were miraculously caught in the bucket, while filling the car with a pungent aroma. It was 30 degrees out but we still rolled down the windows so we could breathe fresh air.
The first priority once we got home was getting Lincoln cleaned up and cozy on the couch. Once he was all set, I took one of the most well deserved showers of my life, then started washing our puke clothes. I emptied out my purse (aka puke depository) and uncovered a school library book that was a casualty of the days event. While the clothes and purse washed I cuddled with Lincoln and ordered a new copy of the book for the school.
After the clothes were done, I washed the sneakers then threw them in the dryer and went back to snuggling with my little guy. Later that evening I went back to switch laundry and was met with the unmistakable smell of burning rubber. One of Lincoln’s shoes had wedged itself into the perfect spot to prevent the drum from spinning yet the motor and belt could keep operating until they burned up and stopped working. The smell that filled my laundry room was not just burning rubber, it was the smell of a dead dryer.
The next couple of days were spent being a classic mom. I cleaned out puke bowls and constantly checked for a fever. When the fever developed I checked it even more often, making sure it didn’t spike dangerously. I played go fish and watched Pokémon until it almost made sense. It was two days devoted to keeping a sweet little boy comfortable, clean and happy. That’s what parents do. We (literally) give our children the clothes off our back if they need it, we don’t sleep so we can monitor a tricky fever, and we lose at Go Fish to see a smile. In the end, Lincoln got a day off school and I got a new dryer. Now we just need to find a new grocery store where we aren’t notorious.