It was Friday afternoon and for various reasons, one being I had to feed people other than my family, I had to go to the Superstore. With all three of the wonderboys in tow.
The Gort had just set foot in the house when I announced my intention (after affirming the cardboard bridge he’d made at school.)
‘Can I just play for fifteen minutes?’ ‘No,’ I shook my head and, feeling desperate, pulled out the big guns, ‘I will buy each of you a treat and when we get home you can play wii for 30 minutes.’ (A spectacular bit of parenting, really.)
We made our way to my favorite place on earth, the one to which I could probably drive blindfolded. I loaded two boys in the cart and we marched towards the entrance; on a time-sensitive mission. I had done the calculations and if I did not start dinner prep by 4, I would not have the food ready by the time my guests arrived.
The first order of business was the treat, of course. The boys selected a Kinder egg and then I decided I needed a treat too. I veered towards the Lindt chocolates in the bulk bin area and, miracle upon miracles, they had some of my snowman truffles. On sale. Eighty percent off.
Could my life get any better, I marveled at my good fortune. (After filling the world’s largest bag of Lindt snowman truffles.)
We continued our quest for meat, and vegetables and then I remembered I needed to pick up purple cabbage for the slaw I was going to make. I scanned the cabbage section. There, in the sea of pale green cabbages, lay one perfectly round purple cabbage. As if it had waited just for me.
I might as well have won the lottery.
And then my realistic self stopped my jubilant self in her tracks. This kind of good luck could not be sustained. Something was going to go wrong.
I was at the checkout trying to scan my carton of eggs when the Gort delivered a news bulletin. ‘Henners is not feeling well.’ This, of course, was not exactly news to me. I had, after all, kept the boy home from school because he’d looked way too pale and had complained of a headache for most of the previous day. ‘Do you want your Kinder egg,’ I tried to appease the unhappy camper. He shook his head.
It was, what parents all over the world know as ‘a major red flag’. When a child turns down candy…you know it’s not going to end well.
As ‘luck’ would have it, I had more errands to run. I needed corn tortillas from the seventeen-minutes-away Mexican market. I also needed beer. (For my dinner guests.) And I had a crying, candy-refusing child on my hands. ‘Just hang on for fifteen more minutes,’ I fibbed, knowing there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hades the errand would take less than thirty three minutes.
I drove, offering a cheerful update on how many more minutes he needed to hang on ‘ just ten more minutes!’ I ran into the liquor store and grabbed some beer. ‘Do you need a receipt?’ ‘No!’ I ran into the Mexican market, grabbed 4 packs of fresh tortillas, and ran back to the car.
We made it to 37th Street, ‘just 7 more minutes!’ I pleaded.
But it was too late. ‘I think I’m going to throw up,’ the five year old announced.
Another major red flag for any parent. A child who says he might throw up, is a child who is going to throw up. Imminently.
I flicked on my right turning signal and steered the car towards the curb of the busy 4-lane road. I scanned the interior of the car with wild eyes, looking for anything that might serve as a puke container. There, below the passenger seat, was a plastic shopping bag filled with swim diapers that I’d intended to deliver to someone. I dumped the swim diapers on the seat and thrust the bag in the Hen’s direction.
The eruption had already begun. Luckily, I’d made it in time for round 2, 3 and 4.
Seeing as we are now driving a sedan and the boys sit shoulder to shoulder, it’s perhaps not surprising that the nearest brother ‘got hit’. ‘I have barf on me,’ the Gort all but screamed, a mixture of panic and disgust, and ‘why is this happening to me’. I couldn’t help but notice the Hen’s puke was pink. I thought of a conversation we’d had earlier, when I served him a berry smoothie and omelette for lunch. ‘I don’t want the smoothie,’ he shook his. ‘You need to drink the smoothie,’ I insisted, ‘it’s good for you.’
I guess he had the last laugh on that one. You want me to drink the smoothie? How do you like that smoothie now!
Minor miracle: I had a pack of wipes in the car and a ziploc bag in which to dispose used wipes. I handed the Gort a few – he wiped himself, the seat, anything that had been tainted by his brother’s mouth matter. ‘When I get home, I’m changing all my clothes, even my underwear,’ he vowed. And then I handed a bunch to the Hen whose jacket and seatbelt and carseat had also been ‘hit’.
All while Friday afternoon traffic is whizzing past our teal Volvo with the perpetually blinking turning signal.
Due to the unforeseen turn of events (including baths for all of the boys) it was 5pm by the time I started dinner. One hour behind schedule.