Today began a little differently than most. Usually Dawn is up before God and slips out of the house having kissed me goodbye and having avoided saying say to the boy if at all possible for fear that he’ll actually wake up, which will signal that I too must wake up.
Today Dawn was home for the second day of two consecutive sick days. A virus has been lurking in our home, starting with my mother-in-law, moving to the boy, and finding my bride. The kid was supposed to be about done with it, but the sneaky culprit has returned with all its sloppy juicy evidence. I’ve spent days wiping surfaces, spraying handles and knobs, smelling my wife’s favorite fragrance that is bleach.
Well, today Bryce slept well beyond his wake up time, which was just fine with me until Dawn who, again, was home (when she’s normally at work) went in to wake him, even though she told me that I shouldn’t do precisely what she went in to do. I should say that I mentioned to her that I was going to wake him at 8:30AM. She walked by me in the kitchen, telling me not to wake him, and went in to hover—or something.
I heard him chirping his first greeting. His “good morning” is a combination that has become a sweet melody in my ears, a special mixture of glee for having met another day and joy for seeing someone he loves as part of that day. He “hi”ed to his mommy. He wouldn’t be jumping as usual; he didn’t have the energy, I suppose, after all that extra sleep. He was dazed in my imagination because he expected me to be there not his mother. He was also happier in my imagination because he secretly likes his mother more than me.
Dawn started him into the bathroom, onto his potty. He finished his business and I got the baton to start his breakfast. It was oatmeal. It was already waiting on the table since I had prepared to wake him. It was cooled. So I sat him in the chair, instructed him to eat. He took his time. He took a lot of his time. He hardly lifted the spoon. He ate half the oatmeal. This was usual, unexceptional. Sometimes he slows breakfast down and makes me remember what life is all about. I turned on music, which is also usual.
I heard him groan. I went back near him and stood there, and asked him what was wrong. He sat there, spoon lifted, eyes glazing I figured from sleep.
And he threw up.
I heard it coming up and by the time the first drops fell on him, I was lifting my hand to catch the rest. I was never really good at catching balls or bottles of pop or keys tossed from the other side of the room. But today, a day with a different beginning, I was really good at cupping my boy’s chin and catching all the oatmeal, more moist than I first made it. I was good at wiping his mouth and doing the opposite of what my wife was doing (turning away and shedding a tear) because somebody had to be non-anxious in the room. I was so good at it that after I helped Dawn clean up, I almost forgot that the pungent smell of puke wasn’t lotion for my hands. I almost walked out of the door having cleaned him and taken the slop of his upturned bowels just like I did my work bag as I turned a disinfected door knob.