Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Linda Blair's Got Nothing on Baby Claire

Claire's daycare called me at work last week. It seems she had a temperature of 103° and had just got done puking her little guts out.

They never call Wifezilla for this stuff.

So, I scramble to tie up loose ends at work and jump in the truck. About halfway to the daycare, I get another phone call from Claire's teachers. She puked again. I'm not exactly sure why they're calling me with this special update since I'm in my truck and still fifteen minutes away. Maybe they think I'm the Magneto of puke, that my special genetic mutation allows me to manipulate the stomach contents of mammals from as far away as ten miles. I don't remind them that I'm not Puke Magneto, but instead politely reply that I am on my way.

When I arrive on the scene, Claire is a sad sight. They have her separated from the rest of the herd, sitting in a tiny chair. Her little shoulders are slumped and her eyes are the puffy redness that comes from recent hurling. A garbage can is shoved in front of her presumably to gobble up the next puke sortie.

I scoop her up and give her a good squeeze. The teachers hand me a plastic bag full of all the clothes and pillows Claire puked on. She's a little person, but apparently she barfed in front of an electric fan because she somehow managed to spray a lot of stuff. I thank them for handing me this bounty and with Claire hugging me like a baby monkey, I make my way for the truck.

Now, Claire is my baby girl and I love her more than life on earth, but in the back of my mind, as I'm stuffing her in the car seat, I'm thinking to myself, "She's going to puke all over my truck." I momentarily entertain visions of strapping Claire to the top of my truck. I've got a metal rack welded to the roof and some strategically placed bungee chords would fasten her securely. Ensuing puke would harmlessly splatter on the roof, maybe my windshield.

That's easily hosed off.

But that good idea flashes by in seconds. I fasten Claire's seat belt, pull out of the driveway, and make way for home. I call Wifezilla because she is blissfully unaware of these events and I feel the need to share the joy. As I'm talking to her at a red light, I hear Claire suddenly quiet down. Too quiet down. I ask her if she's ok but I get no response. Her car seat is directly behind me so I can't actually see her without severely twisting my body around, seat belt fighting me all the way. And part of me doesn't want to look back because I already know what's going down.

Or up, as it were.

A sickening wet sound confirms my worst fear. It sounds like a boot stepping in a mud puddle, but even more juicy if that's possible. I crane back and Claire is in the middle of hurling her guts out. She has a bewildered look on her face. The involuntary response is new to her and I can tell it's freaking her out. Thankfully, the puke isn't shooting out, but rather dribbling down her chin, shirt, pants, car seat. I can almost picture the car seat screaming in horror as it slowly take the brunt of the partially digested food and drink, but all I can think is better it than me. Or my truck's upholstery.

Wifezilla is still on the line. I can hear her tinny voice distantly asking what's going on. I pull the phone back to my ear and scream for back up. I tell her we need to double team this because I CAN'T handle our kid puking by myself. She vows to leave right then. The light has turned green by now so I put slam the truck in gear and tell Claire everything's going to be ok. The poor little thing has to sit in her own puke until we get home because I don't have any means to clean her up at the moment, even if I weren't currently driving.

But we get home uneventfully. I draw a lukewarm bath and carefully peel her clothes off. She seems immediately relieved. She soaks for a few minutes while I scope the damage in the truck. The car seat took the full brunt. What a trooper. There are some splashes here and there on the back seat, but they are easily sprayed away. The car seat bottom comes off, so I pop that in the washer along with Claire's abused clothes. It could have been much, much worse.

The doctor checked Claire out a few hours later. She had strep throat. Antibiotics cleared it all up within a day, so that by Friday, she was back to her usual maniacal self.

The silver lining through all the puking: Claire's head didn't spin around 360°. At least not that I saw.