My youngest son started with a stomach bug last Wednesday. It was the kind of bug that hits hard and leaves mountains of laundry (and tired mommies) behind.
By Thursday afternoon, however, he seemed to be over it. He was playing, eating and fighting with his brothers--just like normal. And he really wanted to go to school on Friday.
So I let him.
Thirty-five minutes after I said goodbye, the school secretary called to say he had gotten sick on the bus.
“Oh no!” I groaned. “I’ll be right over.”
Visions of a seat-mate’s worst nightmare flashed through my mind. I grabbed a garbage bag to put his soiled things in, and dug out his spare coat from the closet. I briefly wondered if I should bring an extra outfit for the little boy he sits with.
Guilty thoughts bounced around in my head as I drove. I thought he was over this bug! Poor little guy! He must be a mess! Not to mention embarrassed! I tried not to speed.
When I got to the office, the secretary directed me back to the clinic.
He was sitting alone on a cot inside the door. His coat was still zipped. His gloves were neatly paired beside him. And his book bag sat on the floor by the trash can—which had obviously been pulled over in case he needed it.
“Hey buddy! How are you feeling?” I squatted down in front of him. His eyes had new shadows beneath them.
“O.K.” he said. “I threw up on the bus on-accident.”
The on-accident part made me smile. “I heard.”
I scanned his coat, jeans, shoes and gloves. There was no sign of vomit anywhere. After giving him a quick hug, I asked, “Where did you throw up?”
“I told you. On the bus.” The duh was implied.
“I know. But I mean, I don’t see anything on you. Where did it go?”
“I did get some on me, right here.” My little neat freak pointed to a dot on the chest of his coat. I almost giggled. The dot was the size of a pea.
“So you just threw up a little bit?” Hope sprouted like the premature daffodils growing in my yard. Maybe it hadn’t been as bad as I thought!
“No,” he said. “I threw up a LOT. There was a puddle on the floor this big.” He stretched out his arms like he was singing the wide part of Deep And Wide. And the hope began to wilt.
“Awe, kiddo, I’m sorry. You want to tell me about it?”
“Well, I started feeling sick after I got on the bus. So I leaned against the window and tried to get some sleep. Then a little (vomit) came in my mouth like this,” he convulsed like a cat with a hairball. “I tried to hold it in. But then a whole bunch just started coming up. And I leaned over like this.” He leaned down with his head almost between his legs to show me.
When he came up, I scrutinized his pant legs and shoes again. “But I don’t see anything on your pants or shoes.” I said, amazed.
“I know. Isn’t that great?” There was definitely pride in his voice.
“Yeah, kiddo. That’s amazing! You are like--the neatest up-chucker ever! And you didn’t get anything on your friend?” I had to ask.
“Nope. Just on the floor.” His pale little face was just short of smiling. I let go of the breath I was apparently holding.
“Were you by the window or on the isle?” I asked as I stood back up. I was still trying to imagine the scene. Assess the damage. Get a sense for how upset the bus driver would be with me for sending a sick child to school.
“I was by the window. That was a good thing, too, mom. You know why?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Because then no body had to step in it as they walked up the isle to get off the bus.”
He had a gross--but good, mind you--point.
I picked up his gloves and book bag, signed him out of school, and walked him out to the car.
“So, what did your bus driver do?” I stretched to see his face in my rearview mirror.
“She stopped the bus right in the middle of the road. Then she came back and poured this minty-smelling stuff on it. And then she walked real slowly back up the isle.”
“Did she move you to the front?”
“Nope. But she said I could get off first when we got to school.”
Lol! I bet she did!
* * *
That afternoon my older two, who ride the same bus but at different times, came in the door complaining about how bad the bus smelled.
“You mean, it didn’t smell like mint?” I asked.
“Mint?? NO mom. The bus driver said some little kid puked in the back of the bus this morning. The whole thing stunk!!!”
“Really?” I said, and winked at my little guy. That sounds bad. :)