A few nights ago while I held Adam in the upstairs hallway Kathleen was straining her hands through the slats of Adam’s crib struggling to stretch the bottom sheet over the corners of the mattress without removing the bumper pad; the material just out of her grasp she looked like a double-homicide lifer at San Quentin grabbing at the passing shirt-tail of some fresh meat. The lengths she’ll go to assure all our beds, even our 10-year old queen size Serta Perfect Sleeper farmstead, are draped in clean linens.
So, while she struggled to establish her place in the coil spring pecking order, I paced lazily to and fro appreciating Adam’s weight on my forearm, the faint scent of the soap from his bath, and his right hand clenching the back of my shirt collar. When we stopped to turn in front of our bedroom I felt his stomach spasm. He jerked his head off my shoulder and spit up the tiniest bit on the front of my shirt. My reaction was the same as if I had overthrown a Frisbee or a baseball in the park, I yelled to Kathleen, “Little Help!” because really what’s more comparable to your child’s regurgitation than an errant throw during a friendly game of catch?
My tone was initially calm until Adam cranked open the fire hydrant of his intestines and showered me from the head to toe with a gusher of puke that had that unique vomit scent of curry, battery acid, sour milk and gym socks. Though I’d somehow unwillingly uncapped a reservoir of vomit under high pressure it miraculously capped itself. Around my feet dripped the bile of animated riggers singing the cheers of “Black Gold” and Texas Tea”. I said nothing. Adam made not a sound. For a space of time that could have been a second or an eternity he and I stood in the hallway drenched in the dark salmon yogurt consistency of his stomach contents.
A clumsy waiter in a Red Lobster had stumbled behind us bathing us in a luke-warm bowl of seafood bisque. I’m sorry sir. I’ll get my manager. I’m sure we can do something for you, to compensate for your inconvenience. Free Shrimp Scampi perhaps? How does that sound? It’s not that I don’t know how to ask for assistance when a situation arises when I need it, but again as I stood there with Adam doing my best Sissy Spacek “Carrie” impersonation the only request I could come up with was, “Little Help?”
Kathleen darted from her thread count gang war, pushed open the bathroom door, and pulled back the shower curtain so I could leap into the tub in an attempt to contain the evil spewing from the youngest of my brood. I whispered to Adam, “It’s OK Baby ..it’s OK, let it out (as if to this point he was holding it in)” and I kissed his forehead and unwittingly planted my lips on a splotch of seafood bisque. It was like that splotch was a release valve. The pressure of the puke that hit he in my neck nearly threw me out of the tub and I had to hold onto to the soap dish to avoid toppling backwards onto the floor.
The bottom of the tub was glazed with a gelatinous slime that included pasta beads from Italian wedding soup, and what appeared to be a license plate and an all-season radial. And we just stood there. I considered trying to get Adam out of his dirty clothes but thought better of it when he began to dry heave. So we continued to stand there, waiting for Mommy to come to the rescue. But she never came. “Kathleen….” I spoke hesitantly. “I’m cleaning up the hallway where Adam threw up, I’ll be there in a second.” Mommy had spoken and made her intentions clear. We were to stand in the tub, soaked in baby vomit until she was done cleaning the floor in the hallway.
Adam had a dazed expression, a “Where the hell am I?” look, a “Why am I craving shrimp scampi look?” and I tried to hold him …as far away from me as possible. Like an offering to the shower head god I held him for nearly a minute until Kathleen returned to the bathroom and took him from me. After she did I showered in the hottest water possible.
Then last night as I was about to begin a game of Ninja with Jack in the back play room (I’ll explain Ninja: The Home Version over the Thanksgiving weekend) Kathleen administered Tylenol through a syringe to Adam above the kitchen sink. Moments later she approached the back room to say she was bringing him up to bed and the clumsy waiter with the seafood bisque vaulted from his mouth, splashed to the floor and completely blocked the doorway from the toy room to the kitchen. After I did an 11 foot standing long jump to reach the kitchen it required ½ a roll of Bounty to clear a path for Jack to escape.
Yet now I’m afraid of that clumsy waiter and his seafood bisque. I’m afraid to pick up Adam for fear he’ll spray me with his stomach contents. I’m afraid I don’t know how to ask for support when I really need it.