Wanda was sick. She’d been hacking up a lung for days and I’d kept her home from school and other activities. One morning she woke up coughing nigh unto death and barfed all over her bed. It was a lovely way to wake up.
Laylee shakes my arm.
“Hey Mom. Wanda barfed.”
It isn’t stomach flu, just a coughing fit and what she chuffs up is a glob of Tylenol and other globs of other things that, frankly I’m glad are no longer in her lungs.
She is fine the rest of the day. I give her a bottle of watered-down Gatorade, call it “sick soda” and plunk her in front of the TV. She barely coughs at all and her fever becomes non-existent.
The thing is, I have Christmas packages to mail and I’m running out of time. So, that afternoon, I tell her to grab her sick soda, pack up the car and head to the post office.
First thing she does – show every person in the line her sick soda, explain why it is called sick soda and that she only gets to drink it when she’s REALLY REALLY ill. Everyone steps back a half step as she makes her rounds gleefully.
“Come here, Wanda. No one needs to hear about that.”
“But I’m really, really super sick,” she says as I casually clamp my hand over her mouth, drawing her into a tight hug-like hold.
She stays quiet just long enough for us to get to the front of the line, the center of attention, before she begins singing a freestyle composition.
“I am so sick, so so so sick. When I woke up this morning, I barfed and barfed and barfed and barfed and—“
I am a deer in headlights, a criminal in one of those giant floodlights, a mom with a four-year-old with a super adorable, super big mouth.
Everyone is staring and not in a commiserating sort of way. Their looks are more along the lines of, What kind of mother brings her daughter full of Ebola virus to the post office on one of the busiest days of the year?
I give a nervous laugh. “Wanda, they don’t need to know all the details.”
The looks get even more disgruntled. “So now you’re going to stop her from sharing her truth?” they seem to say and I don’t blame them. This all looks very bad for me.
I’ve got 4 packages up on the counter. Wanda’s song continues.
“And I barfed and I barfed so bad that I barfed up my Tylenol and I barfed up all my green stuff…”
“She’s really not that sick,” I say to the room. “It’s not the stomach flu. She just coughed so hard she threw up a little.”
The words sound astoundingly unhelpful as they fall from my mouth. Um. Shut up.
I decide that the best course of action is to get the packages mailed and get out of there as soon as possible with as little eye contact as possible.
“And after I barfed and barfed and barfed, I was so sick and so SICK! So my mom said, ‘Let’s go to the post office!’”
That’s exactly how it was. Whenever one of my kids is sick, I think, She is so sick! I know! I should take her to the post office! And I hope she performs a song about it.
The song lasted until the last package was stamped and tossed in the bin and I sheepishly grabbed Wanda’s hand and hurried her out of the building.
I was already laughing as I got to the car. I was the only one, but I hope that as they got home and did not come down with The Plague of Green Goo and Barfed Tylenol Doom, they wondered for just a second if maybe I wasn’t the worst mother ever. Maybe Wanda just had mad lyrical skills.