This is the first of at least a four part series. Everything I am about to tell you about this past weekend is true.
Friday, May 4th, 6 AM
About 3 minutes after I wake up, I find myself in the kitchen with my stomach in intense pain. I assume it is hunger. we did not have a big dinner the night before and we both acknowledged we would be hungry the next morning.
The problem was nothing sounded good. And it felt more like nausea than hunger.
“Wait, there’s a banana.”
So I ate a banana and drank my coffee – slowly. I still felt terrible. And the fear in the back of my mind was creeping to the forefront of my mind – stomach virus. The very stomach virus my 3 year old had a few days earlier, his first by the way.
I tried to ignore it. Today was too big a day.
Bethany, my wife was headed to the beach with two friends. I was watching our three kids. This was her first trip like this since we’ve had kids – just her and some friends, with us kids at home alone without her. I’d taken off work to be superdad and give the kids a weekend so awesome they will not notice how poorly they are being taken care of.
Dylan, the 3 year old who had the stomach virus has not yet shaken it obviously and has gotten sick in his bed. This means cleaning him and his bed up quickly. The wife is supposed to meet the girls at 8 AM at a Cracker Barrel parking lot about 20 minutes away. I still have to take the kids to school and then come back to get her and take her down there. Dylan will be riding with us.
My wife’s stomach is bothering her also. But it has been for a few days, so she is not all that worried. I get down a granola bar hoping it will curb the grueling hunger pains.
I am on the way with the kids to school and Knox, my 6 year old tells me his stomach hurts. I hope it is hunger because he often is hungry and begins his plea for food or snacks with, “my tummy hurts.” But fear shoots through me like lightning. He tells me he feels sick and it is not hunger. So we drive back to the house. Bethany is getting worried till we see the glee on Knox’s face at being able to watch Spider-Man and play Angry Birds. So we tell him to get back in the car and I take him to school. I drive carefully because if you know anything about Birmingham, AL, there are no flat, straight roads – especially on Shades Mountain, where we live. I feel terrible, by the way.
I think it is at this point we delay the meet up between the girls. Holly’s little Ellie has a fever.
Let me preface this by saying I feel terrible but I am still optimistic. I’ve been nauseous before and seen it disappear in a few hours. When I get back to the house, Bethany is worried the trip is not going to happen. Me too. She needs this trip and deserves it. She never does things like this. I want her to go on this trip as much as she wants to go. Her excitement has been a real source of fun for us. Plus I can eat unhealthy food while she is gone and watch Phineus and Ferb with the kids.
The trip is on. We load her gear up and then her, Dylan and myself are on our way. We had to stop and mail something at the post office because I didn’t want to worry about it feeling the way I did while having the 3 year old with me.
Have I mentioned that I don’t fell well? And the contours of the roads in my fair city? About 5 minutes in to the drive I burp and it helps.
We arrive before anyone else at the parking lot of Cracker Barrel. I immediately get out of the car because I thought it might make me feel better. It does for a moment but I am anxiously looking for concealed bushes in case I get sick. It’s been many years since it has happened but I know the feeling well enough. Just typing about this makes me feel terrible. I hate being that kind of sick. I hate that I’m even having to tell you about it. But I was worried. Imagine my worry – I’m about to drive off with Dylan – who, by the way just really got potty-trained about 2 weeks ago – and will be picking the other two kiddos up a little later in the day.
I cannot. Be. Sick.
The ladies are driving away and I step out of the car again and I’m worried. Another good burp makes me feel better. I start driving home but I’m worried enough to stay off the interstates. I take highways and the straighter the better. Yeah, right.
OK, at this point I am done with optimism. I’m going to be sick. It is going to happen. I just want to get home first.
Because we were worried still about Dylan, we brought along a tupperware bowl. About a stone’s throw from home I needed that bowl. I will spare the details but there was one part that needs to be told.
Dylan: Are you sick Daddy?
Me: Yeah buddy, I’m sick.
Dylan: I sorry, Daddy.
And he meant it.
I know what you are thinking. But I did not call her and tell her. She needs this trip and the less she knows the better time she will have. She may kill me later, but she will enjoy herself now.
This is when I started to pray like a Pentecostal.
Dylan is watching cartoons. I’m down the hall in bed. He can’t do too much harm. Besides, I feel a little better and I rarely deliver a sequel in these situations. But now I feel achey and feverish.
Bethany sends me a text checking on me and I tell my first of many, many lies on this weekend of Lying. I told lies of omission and I outright told some big whoppers. Sometimes the truth was technically there, but I was really a liar, liar pants on fire.
I tell her, “Yep, Just taking it easy.”
How many lies did I tell her over the weekend? Well, let’s put it this way, if there was a land called Liardom, I would be Founder and King. But as King it is my job to protect the fair maiden of this household from the truth so she can relax in sun-soaked bliss.
By this time, I have called my own mommy and asked her to come over and watch Dylan while I lie in bed and moan. She had already volunteered, so back off. Bethany’s mom is closer, but if I’m going to be sick I want my own mom to be there.
The phone rings. It’s Bethany and to my dying day I will never forget her words -
“This is the call you’ve been dreading.”
“What?!” “What happened?”
“Knox got sick at school.”
(To be continued)
Part 2 here