My 6-year-old lay on the kitchen floor, refusing dinner and screaming that his stomach hurt. I thought Nile was being dramatic, which he does after a long day of being mostly well-behaved in school. “Go on and boo-boo!” I yelled. This is usually my suggestion for stomachaches, headaches, sprained ankles, depression, and most other ailments. He sat on the toilet and tried, but it didn’t help. So we let him skip dinner and rest in our bed while our other two boys went to sleep upstairs.
I went to check on Nile a few minutes later and arrived just in time to see him vomit all over our sheets. I can handle spit up; I can change a diaper regardless of smell or size; but vomit, especially little boys throwing up like a grown man infected with Chipotle…nah, man. It just grosses me out too much.
I pulled off the sheets and called Amber for reinforcement. She consoled him while I balled up the laundry and threw it in the washer. He would throw up throughout the night, a total of nine times over the next day and a half.
That was just the start. Two days later, our 5-year-old, Cassius, would also catch the bug. Amber had just left for twerk practice at Buti Yoga and I was finishing up dinner with the kids. Cassius was sitting on the toilet complaining that “Nuffin is coming out.” I figured it was the Domino’s we just ate. (By the way, Domino’s has been making pretty good pizza since that commercial where they apologized for making years of bad pizza. Get the hearty marinara sauce instead of the regular.)
I went to the bathroom to help out Cassius. I suggested that he stand up from the toilet and then sit back down, just to change things up a bit. The second he stood up his insides flew out his mouth and he lost like half his body weight. I tossed him in the tub before disinfecting the bathroom and texting Amber, “Cassius is throwing up everywhere!” He would go on to throw up six more times, somehow landing the mess in the mixing bowl or trash can in the bed each time.
Over the next day or so I kept researching the flu. It’s big news this year because it’s not just killing a lot of people in underdeveloped countries. Our two youngest were vaccinated earlier in the year, but Nile was not because his doctor didn’t have supply on hand. Apparently the vaccination is only 10 to 20 percent effective this year, but 20 percent sounds like a pretty good deal when your kids are barfing everywhere.
We took Nile to the doctor and the pediatrician said it was probably a stomach bug that’s being passed among filthy children in our city. She mentioned that she could have prescribed a medicine to stop the vomiting, but that it’s no longer needed since the virus usually lasts no more than 48 hours. She was right. He recovered, but then I got sick.
I wish I could say I handled the illness as well as my kids, but I really dislike throwing up. So I kept it down and let the waste exit from its proper end. Tens of times. Never thought I’d be 38 and worried about having motorcycle tracks in my draws.
Anyway, I didn’t eat for two days. Shots of Nyquil helped me sleep through the body aches and nausea. But the Nyquil also gave me a sad high. I began to think that for most people there’s a point in life where you’re sick and really have no hope of getting better. It’s like a far too real episode of This Is Us. Even worse, you could be unfortunate enough to see your kids go through it.
I was mostly recovered by day three. Whatever we had never touched Amber and Baby Larke. Our household was back to normal. Cassius said, “I wanna throw up again. I like throwing up.” I think he meant he liked the attention. I hope so. He and Nile would go on to argue about who threw up more. Both kept track. Sibling rivalries do not cease due to illness.