Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr Day.  My office was closed, as was day care.  Monica was not as lucky as she still had to work.  This meant I was on my own with both kids.  All I really want to do on a day like that is hang out and watch TV, but that’s frowned upon when raising kids apparently so I had to find something to do throughout the day to occupy them.  It’s cold so any outdoor activities were ruled out.  I ended up taking them to the mall for a bit to run a few errands.  That’s usually good for killing some time and wearing them out because they run around a bunch.  I kept them in line with the promise of McDonald’s.  Since the local restaurant has an indoor playground, it’s a good form of cheap entertainment.  This is where I found myself at around 12:30.

The playground is simple in its setup.  It’s a few tubes that lead up to a slide.  My deal with the kids is that they have to eat a bite of their cheeseburger and then they can run through the playground once, then repeat.  This way they still get to go play and they’re eating.  It’s worked over and over again.  After this time, I have some second thoughts about my approach.

Things started out well.  The kids were behaving and actually eating their food.  Oliver finished his cheeseburger and Parker was almost done.  In hindsight, I recognize that Parker had a couple of odd sounding burps.  These should have been warning signs.  I told the kids that if they finished their food, I would get them some ice cream.  Oliver was impatiently waiting for Parker to finish.  I picked up Parker and put him on my lap, holding the small piece of cheeseburger he had left in my other hand.  I had already finished my food.  I told Parker again that if he ate one more bite, he’d get ice cream.  He took a bit of the burger…then began to throw up.

Now, I don’t know how to fully explain what happened next or why.  I can only point to the strange set of instincts that come from being a parent.  You think differently and react in a moment’s notice when it involves your kid.  The moment I saw what was happening, instincts kicked in and, left with no real options in the immediate vicinity, put my hand under Parker’s mouth.  My two-and-a-half-year old son proceeded to throw up most of the cheeseburger he had just ate into the open palm of my right hand.  After the initial outpouring was finished, I threw the vomit onto the tray which was thankfully empty.  Then, before even cleaning up my hand, I grabbed the empty Happy Meal box that was on the floor near my feet.  I placed this in front of Parker and he proceeded to vomit quietly into the box.  Oliver was somewhat oblivious to this whole thing and while thinking about it now, it probably lasted maybe thirty seconds.

I want to take a second here to explain the setting.  The playground area of this McDonald’s houses about six or seven small tables.  They’re built for children so they’re low to the ground.  Each has two to four stools around them.  Since it was lunchtime on a holiday, the place was packed.  There were at least a dozen kids running around and probably seven to nine adults.  Our table was located in the corner.  Since everything happened so quickly and quietly, I don’t think anyone really noticed, especially since I had Parker throw up into the Happy Meal box.  I’ve been to this place when a kid blows chunks all over the floor.  It has a tendency to clear the room out pretty fast.  If anyone saw this go down, they did not let on.

At this point, my right hand is covered in vomit which I’m cleaning up with the last of the napkins we had.  There’s a little bit on my pants and on Parker’s shirt.  I wipe that up with whatever we have left and quietly tell Oliver to get his shoes.  Proving once again that he’s my son, his response is “What about ice cream?” I tell him that I’ll give him ice cream at home.  I explain that Parker threw up and we have to go now.  Oliver is now at an age where he has little to no control over the volume of his voice.  He responds to this by practically shouting “Parker threw up!?!” to which I shush him and tell him again to get his shoes.  He was a trooper and complied.  I grabbed our coats, got everyone dressed, and threw out the evidence in the nearby garbage can, hoping and praying that Parker didn’t throw up again.  I was all out of Happy Meal boxes.

As I was walking my children out of the playground area, I saw a woman swoop in on the now empty table, claiming it as her own.  She was completely unaware that moments before, my kid threw up into my outstretched hand.  Fortunately, there was nothing on the floor or table that I could see.  We managed to get home without further incident.  Parker didn’t throw up again.  Oliver got his ice cream.

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