Sometimes it feels as if my life is only and just about risk assessment.
It’s not like this is news to me, but some weeks it’s just like, “C’MON ALREADY!!”
Take Monday, for instance: Grocery shopping day. With three kids and a job to juggle, I don’t have the patience or energy to go to the grocery store every single day, like I used to, and definitely not with all three kids in tow, kids who are easily tempted by all the sugar-filled temptations found at every eye-level shelf. So, every Monday morning, while I make the kids’ breakfasts and pack their lunches and start the laundry and make my own breakfast and inhale some coffee, I decide the week’s meals and put together a grocery list, then head to the store after I drop the kids off at school. This week, as usual, I chose to put the 20mo in the Big Red Car grocery cart. I pick the huge, hard-to-steer Big Red Car grocery cart for several reasons, the most important being 1) he’s too far away from the groceries to grab them and hurl them onto the floor – a game he quite enjoys, and 2) he’s facing away from me, so can’t grab my phone from my purse and spike it on the floor like a football (a lesson I learned the hard way with Baby #1).
Turns out, the child who drove the Big Red Car grocery cart before us must have been quite delicious. Broder spent the entire hour we were in the grocery store LICKING the side of the cart. LICKING IT!! Whenever I managed to push his head back into a sitting position, unsuccessfully trying to tempt him with a roll or his pacifier or a toy or any bright shiny object at eye-level on the shelves of the aisles (anything!), he’d simply wipe his little hand along the side of the car and lick each pudgy little finger. With relish.
So, risk assessment time: Allow the toddler to continue lick lick licking away, risking that what he found so delicious was not leftover donut or fruit leather, but rather stomach flu and norovirus germs. OR, get the groceries purchased so I could actually feed the family for the week. Tough call, actually, but I finally decided that the damage was already done, and went about my shopping. A good decision in hindsight, as no barfing has ensued in the following days.
At least, not from the 20mo. The 5yo, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that last night was, as they called it in the movie, “Stand By Me,” a complete and total barf-o-rama.
Last night, I turned my lights out at 10:36pm. I was so proud of myself for going to bed “early. For some unknown reason (really, this is how my brain works – it’s bizarre), I have decided that 10:40pm is my dividing line between going to bed early (any time before 10:40pm, I congratulate myself with warm adulation) and late (any time after10:40pm, I call myself dirty names, as I know – I KNOW! – that I require a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night to behave like a normal, functional and pleasant person the next day, and often prefer 9 hours. Okay, 10 hours. But let’s be realistic, shall we?).
Not even an hour later – the clock read 11:34pm (and WHY is waking up in that first hour of sleep so much harder than waking up at some ungodly hour like 2:00am??) – and the 5yo crawled into bed with us. A bit groggy, Bill explained to Liam that it wasn’t even close to his usual 5:30am wake up time, and went to take him back to bed. At which point the puking began.
And didn’t stop.
For I swear an hour. But was probably only 30 seconds. But in that 30 seconds? Oh my good gracious. This is why I applaud single parents. I don’t know how they do it. This was divide-and-conquer time.
I took over the barfing child. Bill took over clean up duties. I got the sleep-walking sickie out of his puked-on PJs into clean ones, brushed his teeth and washed his face, and tucked him back in bed with a bowl and instructions to puke into it if he felt sick again. Bill cleaned up the LINE OF VOMIT that led from the bed, to the bedside table (of course, hitting the books on top), to the floor of our bedroom, to the floor of our bathroom, to the bathroom sink, and finally ending at the bathroom toilet. I stripped the sheets, remade the bed, and started a load of laundry. Bill cleaned the bathroom toilet of the kids’ bathroom, because let’s face it, if the kiddo is going to get sick, he deserves a clean toilet. Divide. And. Conquer. We were back in bed in 30 minutes. With the sincere hope that Liam wouldn’t be sick again, and if he was going to, with the sincere hope that it wouldn’t be until the sun rose.
Which was, indeed, the case. Who knew? Of course the baby woke up at 3:45am, and the pacifier was missing, and because he’s turning into a pack rat and I have yet to discover his pacifier hidey-hole, it was a bit of a frantic search to find a replacement. But now I’m just blatantly pandering for your sympathy…
Liam woke up at 5:30am, as usual. Promptly got sick. Developed a slight fever. And Bill left for work. Wait!! What happened to divide and conquer?? I still had to get the 9yo to school! Deep breath… Breakfast made, lunch packed, children dressed. Shoes on. Coffee poured into travel mug. Everyone stuffed into car, sick child holding his sick bowl, just in case… Got to the school. Wait!
Risk assessment time.
Leave child in car, unattended, and risk the judgments of all parents who have yet to be in the same situation (“Neglect!” “For shame!” “How could you?” Etc., etc., etc.”) and/or think they’re a better parent than me (heck, they could be for all I know) and I deserve a dressing down (“I would have…” “You should have…” “You’re the spawn of Satan!” Etc., etc., etc.)? OR take puking, feverish, contagious child into school and risk BEING STONED by all the parents who are now counting down the hours until their own sons and/or daughters – or worse, themselves! – start to heave the gorge*? Uh… an easy choice, honestly, given the safe neighborhood the school is in and the fact that I hang out with cool people who get that parenting is hard work and comes with inherent complications. I did, however, choose the less risky option of removing the keys from the car, as the 5yo was feeling just well enough (read: capable of extreme mischief) at the time that I didn’t want to add “joy ride” to the morning’s events. Hence, I gave him my iPhone to entertain him (read: keep him out of mischief) for the three minutes it would take for me to drop Paisley off at her class and let Liam’s teacher know he was sick. Oh. Wait. Risk assessment time…
Deep breath. “Honey, if you’re gonna get sick, just don’t throw up on my iPhone. Okay?”
*One of my favorite Shakespeare quotes of all time. Puking + Poetry = Perfection.