There are often startling moments of clarity in the life of a parent. Some happy, some not, some a glimpse of the men and women our children are destined to become. Sometimes, bits of their character that we aren't so proud of even come out. Usually it is in the form of an off-color comment in front of a person who would be most offended by it. Such is life.
I had another sort of clarity moment last Thursday. If I were to analyze if from a clinical angle, I would likely be in awe of the number of simultaneous thoughts, visions, and actions we humans are capable of within the span of just a few seconds. As one thing happened, I reacted to it mentally and physically, and the immensity of the moment, the consequence of the occurrence, what it meant, and what it would bring, were brought into sharp focus. It was, for lack of a better phrase, a classic, "oh shit" moment. It went like this:
I picked The Princess and Crash up from school. We had some time to kill while Bang finished track practice, so we went for a snack and to pick up some items at Costco. The Princess had been yammering for a Shamrock shake, and who can blame her, they are only offered once per year, and it marks the rare occasion that I willingly darken the door of the Golden Arches. Crash opted for something the marketeers had been hawking on the teevee, a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe. After one swig, he said he didn't like it. The Princess grabbed his straw for a taste, to see if she would be willing to trade. Instead she offered to mix in the whipped cream, thinking that it lacked some sweetness or something. They passed it back and forth a couple of times. He seemed appeased, and sipped a bit.
We strolled around Costco, and, well, I swiped a few sips of the drink that Crash wasn't going to be able to finish. We also shared a few samples. We paid, we left. As we pulled in to traffic, Crash started complaining of stomach pain. I quizzed him on his symptoms. I asked him if he felt like he was going to throw up. He said, "No."
And then he ralphed all over my car.
The moment I heard that first retch, everything was illuminated. As I verbally comforted Crash, tried to roll the window down, drive the car, and minimize the damage, I also saw, in my mind's eye, the drink sharing, the inevitable future illness that would befall The Princess and I, the missed work, the laundry, the helpless children, the smell, the pain, the sleepless nights - all of it, right there in that split second.
No amount of Lysol, Purell, or hand-washing was a match for this virus. By Sunday, Mr. H was down. Monday, Bang. The Princess and I held strong until about 3 am Tuesday. I tried to convince myself, as I sat with her on the cold tile of the bathroom, that my stomach was just puny from watching her be sick. Nah, I was just hours behind her. Boom, bless her heart, was the last one to get it. Probably delayed by her weekend away from home, she should have taken my advice and bunked with the grandparents the rest of the week.
What a crappy way to spend Spring Break. Especially for the college kid who wants nothing more than a few of her favorite home cooked meals for a week. Two days I was too sick to cook, and now she hurls at the mere thought of food.
For the record, seeing it coming did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the misery.