Our household is currently recovering from The A–CHUNK-A-LYPSE.

After dinner the other night, I left Levi to brush his teeth with his electric toothbrush while I loaded the dishwasher. Asher had already finished his two minute cleansing and had parked himself in front of the television to watch Dexter’s Laboratory only to be interrupted by a series of gagging noises coming from the bathroom.

“MAAAAHHHHHM!!!!! LEVI’S THROWING UP!!!” Asher announced.

Sure enough.

Some people know exactly what to do in the case of all household disasters. They know which cleaning products to use and whether to grab a sponge or paper towels or the wet vac. I stood frozen for what seemed like minutes staring at Levi wishing I could go Bewitched on the scene. Even the thought of vomit makes me … mmghm … gag.

“DON’T MOVE, LEVI!! I mean are you ok? Please, just let me come get you so that you don’t step in it. …And, I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Let me take that toothbr…” Oh God, the toothbrush is covered in sick. Just throw it in the sink, Deborah. You can do it. And then, slowly remove Levi from scene before his socks are soaking in… mmghmmmghm… too late! Scanning the bathroom for the first time, I realized that Levi managed to hit his socks and the walls and the bathtub and the shower curtain with his not quite-digested dinner. And thus began days of retching and wardrobe changes and laundry and more retching as the stomach bug picked each of us off one by one.

Levi had it the worst and brought out the worst in his mothers.

I texted Gabriella to prepare her for the House of Bio-hazardous Waste and possibly to evoke a bit of sympathy. She was neither compassionate nor helpful, and the two of us demonstrated in our exchanges why two mothers are not always better than one – especially when one of them is a project manager by day and an over protective, Italian mother the rest of the time and the other one is a first-born Jewish mother who does not take kindly to unsolicited advice.

Gabriella: did he drink any water?

(8 seconds)

G: i’m worried about dehydration.

(5 seconds)

G: Pls give L water!

You’re a doctor now? Keep your day job, why don’t you?

Deborah: I’m giving him small sips in bet episodes.

G: oh good. make sure he drinks.

If you’d stop telling me what to do, I’d be able to give him more water.

I gathered the towels I sacrificed to stomach sewage and threw them in a plastic bag trying so hard to avoid the wet…mmghm…patches.

G: how’s he doing?

D: up to 7 times. he made it to the toilet twice.

G: Oh no!

D: Must go do more laundry.

(13 minutes)

D: make that 8 times.

G: have you looked at his eyes?

D: they’re closed. he’s sleeping now.

G: if his eyes r sunken, he’s dehydrated

If his eyes are closed, he’s sleeping.

D: Good 2 know

(8 minutes)

G: On my way home.

D: K. L is sleeping in front of tv.

G: 30 min away. See if he’ll drink.

Yeah, I’ll get right on that – right after I take the towels outside and shake out all the hunks of hurl before I throw them in the washing machine. The possums will be well fed tonight!

As soon as Gabriella got home, she ran upstairs to see that I had moved Levi to his bed where he was surrounded by towels – just in case.

D: He’s sleeping now.

G: I’m worried he’s dehydrated.

D: Well, I’m not going to wake him up to give him water. Better he should have small amounts. That’s what my pediatrician father always said.

G: But how much did he have? Someone in my office said that she had to take her daughter to the ER because she threw up all day and couldn’t even keep water down.

Someone in your office should shut her pie hole!

D: Gabriella, he’s been eating and drinking all day. He only threw up dinner. I know because I’m the one who had to clean up all the … mmghm … and there wasn’t a trace of breakfast or lunch. He’s been drinking. I promise.

G: Ok. You can’t blame me for worrying.

D: No. I can’t.

I really can’t.

Gabriella scooped Levi out of bed and brought him into our room.

D: At least put down towels before you put him in here!

She shot me a look that said, “How could you worry about a mess when our child is suffering, you cold, heartless shrew?!?

D: You know, I’ve had a chunk-tastic night and I’ve been on clean up and care taking detail for hours. If you want to put him here without any towels, you can wash the sheets.

G: Well, can you get some towels, Deborah?

I didn’t want him in our bed, and I didn’t want Gabriella calling the shots, but I got over myself and found the last of the beach towels and spread them out for Levi.

We had difficult falling asleep, each of us in tune to Levi’s every breath, our systems on high alert should he throw up in his sleep. By the time I woke up the next morning, only a few hours later, Gabriella had moved onto the sofa because, she said, there wasn’t enough room for all of us. I might have given her a hard time for leaving me with our little vominator, but Gabriella took over for me while I slept in. Whatever had made its way down Levi’s digestive track decided to find another exit route, and Gabriella was on doody-duty for hours.

We all seem to be ok now, and I hope we’re in the clear for the season. In the height of a crisis, Gabriella and I may not treat each other with care or kindness, but mostly we make a good pair – in shifts.

*This piece was chosen for the Listen To Your Mother NYC show.

3 thoughts on “a-CHUNK-a-lypse

  1. “The possums will be well fed tonight!” is going to be my new celebratory phrase.

    “Vikki – you can quit your job!”
    “The possums will be well fed tonight!”

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