Monday, June 29, 2009

Massages And Dog Barf and Lysol! Oh My!

Friday I drove to my hometown. Under optimal circumstances, this trip takes three and a half hours, curb-to-curb. With a potty or lunch break we might come closer to the four hour mark, but that usually only happens when my husband is driving. I like to get on the road and stay there. I'm a "no stops" kind of gal. This can be a problem when you have children, because no matter how many times you tell them to go to the bathroom before you leave, someone always has to go. But my children know that when I'm driving, they'd better get their bodily functions under control, because it will take an Emergency Of The Highest Order for me to stop.

I know that right now this question seems like a tangent, but trust me, it is not. Did you know that God has a wicked sense of humor? He has shown it to me on numerous occasions. One of the most memorable was when I told one of my dear friends, upon hearing of her recently discovered pregnancy, that I was glad it was not me. I was done! God will not be mocked, y'all. I have proof. Let me introduce you to my youngest child, Mary, born 6 days after my dear friend's sweet daughter. So, you know, God, in his infinite and loving wisdom, endeavors to remind me that I am in control of absolutely nothing in this life. Usually He gets me with something that ultimately makes me laugh, which is good, because I really don't want Him to get my attention by slapping me upside the head. That method always gets my attention, but it's not nearly as fun...

Anyway. Patrick was out of town and I was on my way to my hometown, with Mary and the dumb dog Tilly in tow, to pick up my other three children. The three older children had just enjoyed a week with their grandparents and two cousins. They went to and helped out at VBS, swam, played SCAT, ate at various restaurants, had ice cream, went fishing, played several rounds of capture the flag and had an all around great time. So, killjoy that I am, I was coming to bring them home.

Friday night was the closing carnival, wherein the children could spend tickets on games, inflatables, and carnival food. I was coming to get them, rather than meet my parents half way so that the children could attend. Also, I was scheduled to get a massage, courtesy of a birthday gift from my parents. (Is it sad that my birthday is in February and this was the first opportunity I had to get a massage?) (Also, is it wrong that I was looking forward to the massage just a teensy bit more than I was to seeing my children?) So getting to my folks' in a timely manner was of utmost importance to me.

Enter the Hand of God.

We were a little better than an hour and a half from my hometown, when we stopped at a drive through so that I could get a drink. For some reason, I was extremely sleepy and decided that a Diet Coke would be the remedy I needed to wake up. We pulled through the drive through, but not after being behind someone who ordered a freshly killed cow. At least I'm thinking that must be what happened because it took For. Bloody. Ever. to get through the line. As we were pulling out, Tilly started breathing funny. I wasn't sure what the trouble was, but I started petting her and cooing at her and I redirected the stream of cool air from the AC in her direction on the chance that she might be overheating. We were back on the interstate for about thirty seconds when Mary yelled, "OH NO!! Tilly puked!" I chanced a quick glance behind me and sure enough, there on the seat was a nasty pile of dog vomit.

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that I don't "do" vomit. I can handle many things; Slice an artery? I'm your girl! Nasty baby diaper? I can handle it! Dental emergency? Call me! Open heart surgery? I'm on my way! But vomit??? Um, no. Just no.

When I was little, my oldest brother Jon got sick in the car on the way home from my grandparents' house one Easter. Being the youngest, I had to ride the hump in the middle of the backseat. My brother Todd hogged the window and all the fresh air. I was left gagging and stuffing my nose in the bill of my new, crocheted stuffed duck, trying not to vomit my guts up in a sympathy barf. This is a family story still told during reunions. And I tell people that I haven't changed. I used to tell my students that my classroom was a No Barfing Zone. And in all the years that I taught, they all respected The Zone and I never once had to leave the room due to vomit. When Patrick and I started a family, I made a deal with him. I would gladly handle the diapering responsibilities if he would take care of the occasional Pukefest. Almost 18 years of marriage later, and this pact is still in good order, notwithstanding the occasional out of town trip or some other absence wherein I would put Vick's VapoRub under my nose and proceed to clean up the nasty with much gagging.

So, as you can gather, I was in a mild state of panic. I had just cleaned out the van that morning in anticipation of the trip and there was not a napkin nor tissue nor scrap of anything with which to clean to be found. I decided that we'd find the next exit and find a gas station. Mary, meanwhile, was holding her nose and watching a movie on the DVD player with her headphones on. The windows were down and our hair was blowing every which way. If I hadn't been trying to keep from puking up my spleen, I might have laughed. But this was puke, y'all. It was NOT. FUNNY.

I tried the next exit, only to discover after taking it that they were doing work on the overpass and I couldn't get to the gas station on the other side. I admit that I might have said one or two (or seven) choice words. But I got back on the interstate and we drove 15 more miles in the 93 degree heat with the windows down. Yummy.

Finally, we found a gas station, only to be met with the conundrum of what to do with the dog. Obviously, I couldn't leave Mary in the car. I didn't really want to leave the dog in it either, so I decided to tie her leash to the door handle while Mary and I went in to get paper towels and Lysol.

There was a bald-headed biker dude standing right in front of our van smoking a cigarette. Tilly saw him and immediately went into Tilly the Attention 'Ho mode. She walked toward him waggling her body, begging to be petted. To my astonishment, Bald-Headed Biker Dude squatted down and talked to her in what I refer to as the Puppy Voice. You know, kind of like you would talk to a baby. If I hadn't had such a grim task to see to, I might have laughed. As it was, I was glad to have a witness, because it kept me from killing the dog. I was considering, however, looking up the number for the local Humane Society and dropping her off. After all, I had better than an hour to concoct a story for the children about how the dog had "run away again". (I kid.) (But not really.)

After discovering not one, but two, piles of puke and disposing of them quickly but with much gagging we were on our way again.

By the time we got to my folks' house, I had the beginnings of a migraine. Natch. We had dinner and my mom took the kids to the carnival while I headed off for my massage.

Let me just say that if you have never had a massage before, you must get one as soon as humanly possible. I have had several and each and every one reminds me that my shoulders don't belong up by my ears. Their natural position is supposed to be several inches lower. I don't know how long my shoulders stay lowered, but I'm thinking that I need more than a once a year massage. I was fortunate enough to have been treated to a hot stone massage. I cannot think of anything better this side of heaven. It was bliss and possibly totally worth having to clean up piles of stinky dog barf.

Less than 24 hours later, I was back on the road with my children, my dog, and two of my nieces. After meeting my brother Todd in Champaign and dropping off the girls, we were back on the road. Tilly showed no more signs of car sickness (praise the Lord!) and the kids thrust me back into my normal mode of operation quite quickly. There was the usual bickering, eye rolling and whining. But there was also laughter and memories and goofiness.

About 45 miles from home, Maggie and James got into a Lysol fight. James would reach around Maggie, who was riding in the passenger seat and smack her. Maggie would blindly spray him with Lysol in retaliation. This was a fun way to pass the time and we all laughed and were silly with it, making jokes like "now your hair is 99.9% germ free!" As these sorts of things are wont to do, however, things went a little too far and they became irritated with each other. I told Maggie to put the Lysol away and I told James to stop bothering his sister. After a few minutes, James reached for Maggie and she aimed the Lysol in his direction. They began to arm wrestle with the can. I was in mid-correction when suddenly they aimed the Lysol at me and squirted! The right half of my body was covered and I even got some in my mouth. I quoted Donkey from Shrek ("You should warn somebody before you crack one off like that! My mouth was open and everything!! ) which caused my children to erupt with laughter. Then my mouth was declared "99.9% germ free" and "sanitized for your protection."

As I looked at my children giggling and enjoying each other, I thought about how I had missed them. I thought about how it seemed like they had grown a couple of inches while they were gone. I thought about how truly blessed I am to have such an abundance of joy, right there, in my everyday life. And I thought about how a little vomit now and then is a small price to pay for the abundance of riches to be found in my children. And I realized that massages are nice, but they are a luxury that doesn't compare to the gift that is my children.

I am one lucky woman. I might reek a little from cleaning up puke, but still. Damn lucky.

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