I’m getting closer to having kids. The topic is becoming more frequent and I know the day will soon come. As a teacher I deal with kids all day long. And sometimes the cute stuff doesn’t outweigh the sneezing, the coughing, the runny snot drying on a sleeve, the covering of the mouth after the cough (which makes no sense), the pooping, the peeing, and of course the vomiting. Once, on a field trip, I was making my rounds at the back of the bus and asking kids if everything was alright. It’s a routine thing. And low and behold one kid said “I’m feeling sick.” So I immediately rushed to the front of the bus to get some paper towels. I realized I didn’t bring any (Never forget paper towels. Ever), but I had plenty of white paper lunch bags. By the time I got back to the sick kid, he was completely covered in vomit. I had never seen anything quite like it. It was everywhere. It was as if a giant pair of tweezers had picked him up and dunked him into a big bowl of cottage cheese. He was a dripping disgusting mess. It was in his thick curly hair, all over his clothes and face, on the back of the seat, and sprayed all over the window. I felt bad for the poor kid who had to sit next to him — he was practically leaning into the aisle, as far as his seat belt would allow. I stared in disbelief, trying to figure out how vomit could cover so much ground. And just then my question was answered. Because he threw up again and this time I saw him put his hands in front of his mouth. Apparently, this allowed the vomit to ricochet off his palms and splatter in every direction. I tried to be as comforting as possible, but it was difficult not to smile. Since I didn’t have any gloves, I had him do all of the cleaning. The paper lunch bags did little to sop up the mess, so instead I had him rub the thick white chunks into his clothes. It took awhile for all of those white chunks to disappear. As he cleaned himself up he kept saying “What is this? What came out of me? What is this?” I told him he must have had milk for breakfast. He said “I’m allergic to milk.” I said so am I, but you won’t see me drinking it. He said “How else are you supposed to eat cereal?” I didn’t want to get into a discussion about milk alternatives. So I told him to relax and try to go to sleep. And he slept.
And this kind of stuff happens all the time. Last week some kid refused to come out of the bathroom because there was “brown stuff everywhere.” And a few days ago I experienced some more classroom vomit fun. I always thought that teaching 32 kids everyday was going to convince me to never have my own children. Yet that last throw up scenario didn’t bother me at all. The smell had no effect. Maybe that’s some kind of sick sign that I’m ready.