Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My feral children

While Jeremy was defending his dissertation - and I mean literally, while - I was at home, throwing up. I waited four years to be able to attend his dissertation defense and I ended up getting sick during the exact 18-hour window that made it impossible for me to do so. Don't worry, I had Jeremy give me a play-by-play once he got home, but it still made me sad to have missed it.

He was gone for about five hours total, and during those five hours, I let the kids take care of themselves. Between bouts of puking, I got a good look at what a child's descent into ferality would look like. You read about kids getting abandoned and how they lived off of ketchup packets and dry pasta for two weeks and I feel like I understand that so much more now.

1. For meals, the girls were limited to the food Miriam could reach. Magdalena had a fruit leather for breakfast, cut into little pieces with scissors that Miriam fetched for me. I cut the pieces while lying down, they fell on the floor, and Miriam gathered them up for Magdalena to eat.

2. Lunch was bread. Miriam ate her piece plain and broke up another piece for Magdalena.

3. We usually drink water out of a Brita pitcher, but yesterday Miriam filled up her water bottle and Magdalena's sippy cup straight out of the tap. What can I say? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

4. To fill the time, we all went into the girls' bedroom, Miriam closed the door, and I lay down and just let them play. I did not enforce any of the regular rules, which is how Magdalena ended up playing with baby wipes, shredding them in small pieces, and spreading them around the room. And probably eating some, too.

5. Miriam played on for approximately 20 hours. She watched videos and played games featuring characters whose voices were each more strident and annoying than the last.

I ended up doing only two child-care activities the whole time. I changed Magdalena's poopy diaper (after Miriam informed me of its existence) and I got up off the floor to turn down the volume on Miriam's computer game.

When Jeremy got home, instead of giving him a hero's welcome, it was all I could do to roll over, say congratulations, and wait to throw up until he had left the room. Then Dr. Palmer had to take care of two neglected kids the rest of the day. What a way to celebrate.

Fortunately, I'm feeling a lot better today. It's a good thing, too, because today is our last day in Tucson. We'll see how good at packing I am living off of nothing but saltines and 7up for the last 36 hours.

Discussion question, and I really am curious about this: do you throw up into a bucket or the toilet? When I was a kid, we threw up the first time wherever, most often on the (carpeted) threshhold to the bathroom - I don't know why we kids never seemed to be able to make it those last five feet. Then my mom always put us on the couch and gave us a bucket. That way, we were able to throw up without having to make a mad dash to the bathroom. The buckets my family used were always old Costco-sized candy containers, which may explain my strange aversion to red licorice and Whoppers.

Is the bucket thing weird? Or smart?


Liz Johnson said...

We always had a bucket to throw up into, but we were also encourage to run to the bathroom (with our face in the bucket) to get it into the toilet as much as possible. Chris refuses to throw up in the toilet (he finds that to be the most disgusting thing ever), and so always uses a bucket. Also, if we're getting graphic here, a bucket is nice to have around in case your body is trying to rid itself of the sickness via both exit points, if you catch my drift. Ew.

Liz Johnson said...

Also, I'm so sorry. :( Packing/moving is awful anyways, and I'm so sorry that you have to do that while on the mend. YUCK. :( I hope you continue to feel better!

Lisa Lou said...

We had the throw-up bowl. It was a mustard yellow tupperware big salad bowl. I will never use one for actually food comsumption. Now, I just run to the toilet.

Amanda said...

Not that I'm glad that you had a day like that, but I'm glad someone did, because it almost perfectly describes my first 4 months of pregnancy. Maybe I'm just glad that I'm not the only one who just lays on the ground when their sick and lets their kids parent themselves.
As for the bucket question, when I was young, we had the sick bowl, oddly the same big bowl that we'd eat popcorn out of, which until now, I never thought was gross. As an adult, I always try to make it to the bathroom. I don't know what it was with Lillian, but it seemed I could never make it past the kitchen trash can, so I threw up there a lot. With Nora, I was much better at getting to the bathroom, but became absolutely freakish about having a clean toilet to throw up in. Nothing grosser than feeling mildly nauseated and then the state of the gross toilet putting you over the edge, and then having to throw up in the gross toilet.

If you want me to watch your girls while you pack, give me a call. I'm just sitting around watching Lillian watch Sleeping Beauty.

Fromagette said...

Oh, I hate being sick! I'm sorry you've had to deal with that, especially at such an exciting time for all of you.

As for abandoning your children, have you ever read "The Glass Castle"? That would make you feel better.

As for the bucket, we would use the toilet at home, but we had special "spit-up" pans for traveling. They were old gross, usable cooking pans that hung out in a box in the van in case we got motion sick.

Nancy said...

When Andrew and I were both sick a couple of weeks ago, we had Rachel fetching bottles of water and packages of crackers from the kitchen. I'm pretty sure all she ate that day was soda crackers as well, even though she wasn't sick.

Oddly enough, the next day, our house was completely covered in crumbs...I don't think she ate where she was supposed to.

Also, we ordered 7-up from McDonalds and had them deliver. Like, all we ordered was 7-up. They probably thought we were crazy.

I hope you're feeling better, though! And isn't it nice to have a little helper, now?

Good luck with the move.

And, now that I'm a grown-up I try to use the toilet, but when I was little we always used a throw-up bucket. Usually an ice-cream bucket or a silver mixing bowl.

I prefer the toilet because there's no (or relatively no) clean up. Just a flush and gone. No dumping required.

With children, though, these things are a little more out of control and a bucket is most definitely needed.

Karen said...

With my children, we always used a "special bowl," which was just an old Cool Whip container saved for those occasions (so nice to throw them out instead of use them for actual food). I would give Andrew (and the others) a special bowl and tell them to lie down. If the urge to throw up came, they were instructed to run to the bathroom, but please take the bowl with you just in case you can't make it that far. It sure helped keep the mess off the floors!

Susanne said...

We had a throw-up bowl which was NOT also used for food later...yuck! We would also use the toilet, but if it were not possible to reach in time, the bowl was handy.

So sorry you were sick and missed Jeremy's defense. What rotten luck!

What a way to end your stay in Tucson. :) Have a safe move.

Natchel said...

My dad would tie a garbage sack to our wrist while we lay on the couch. A very carefully inspected bag. One time there was a hole in the bottom of my sister's bag.... defeated the purpose of said bag.

I have dysmenorrhea and so 12 weeks a year since 6th grade, I throw up non stop. Some nights I ended up sleeping on the bath mats next to the toilet so I didn't have any vomit accidents. By the time I was in high school, I had figured out the pre-puke signs so I always made it to the bathroom on time. Hm, that made me think of a pretty nasty memory. When I was in middle school and just getting used to my period, every classroom had big sinks with a drinking spigot. Many, many times, I didn't have the heads up to make it to the bathroom, so I'd go to the fountain, turn it on, lower my head and pretend to drink while I vomited into the sink and the water flushed it away. Oh gosh, I really hope people from my middle school are not subscribers to your blog.... Too much sharing Rachel, too much sharing.

I hope you feel better! I'm bummed I don't get to see you before you leave! If you need anything, please call! I can be there in two minutes.

Katie said...

We had an ice cream bucket with a little mouth wash in the bottom. The mouth wash was supposed to be so that you have a nice smell to accompany the nastiness, but now it just kind makes me feel like puking. Although, if your too sick to wash your bucket between "episodes" a rinse and some mouth wash does do the trick. At this moment I have a bucket next to my bed and one in the car, but luckily I've been able to make it to the toilet or the trash can every time so far this pregnancy.

Sorry you're so sick! I really hope you feel better soon!

Crys said...

As an adult I always try to throw up in the toliet and now with three babies to my name I've done my share of throwing up! Thank you pregnancy. Of course there was the time I threw up on Grace's head when she was pretending to throw up as well...opps that was disgusting. For the kids it is always the bucket. We have the first throw up...usually in the bed or on the floor next to the bed. Then mom and dad do a quick clean up (bath for the kid, run the sheets down to the washer, wipe the throw up off the floor as best we can, new sheets on the bed) and then we hand over the bucket. The hope is the kid will make it in the bucket while the definitely won't make it to the toliet.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Feral children--when my youngest was 3ish I was hit w/ the worst flu case ever and helplessly laid in bed while he wandered around doing whatever he felt like doing. While collapsed in bed w/ my eyes closed I kept seeing flashes of bright light & thought, wow, that must mean I'm about to expire. When I finally cracked open an eye, there was my little cherub sitting on my bed w/ my camera taking flash pictures of me.

Laura said...

Sorry that you weren't feeling well enough to be there Jeremy defended his dissertation.

My mom always had us lay on the couch as well and gave us either a bowl or a trash can with a new liner in it. Now that I am without my mom here to take care of me, I use the toilet.

Jennifer said...

I'm sad you had to miss Jeremy's defense, but how exciting it is done! (Good luck on the revisions, Jeremy!)

I've always thrown up in the toilet. My mom would give us a bowl when we were laying on the couch or in bed and didn't feel well in case we couldn't make it, but I don't think I ever used it. Now as an adult, I can't imagine having to clean a bowl of throw up after throwing up. That would be awful. I like to flush it and have it gone.

Hope you're feeling better--good luck with packing and moving!

Jeanerbee said...

We had a "puke pot" - this large old dented cooking pot. I think it's good to use for kids so they don't have to get up and move - but I prefer puking in the toilet now that I'm grown =).

And what an awful time to be sick! I hope you feel better soon, and that no one else gets it on the move. I hope your road trip goes smoothly!

The Ensign's said...

Well I'm sorry to hear you were sooo sick. It's sooo not fun being sick with kids.
I'm a run to the toilet type of person. Unless of course it's during labor. In which case my legs are too numb from the epidural to get out of bed.

JackJen said...

I'd MUCH rather throw up in the toilet, but sometimes you HAVE to have a bowl just in case. We prefer a lined trash can, now.

Also, Ian was 14 months old when Joe defended is master's thesis....which means that (even though I had excellent intentions of being there) I spent the whole time walking the halls of the 4th floor of the Crabtree Building at BYU.

It was SOOOOO disappointing...especially since I'd edited the whole thing...twice.

Amanda said...

My day of sickness was perfectly timed with Keith's departure to Scout Camp. I didn't help him do a thing to get ready. My kids ate Teddy Grahams and watched Caillou on demand for 5 hours straight. Thankfully Keith could see I was in no condition to care for them alone so on his way out of town, he called his parents to come pick them up for the day (and then night and next day). I couldn't even get off of the floor to answer the door and see them off. Pathetic! You are a much stronger woman than I for having stuck it out all alone!

Kristen said...

I'm just like Jennifer--mom would give us the bucket in bed, but I definitely prefer the toilet because it can be flushed away.

Also, the toilet provides the bonus of being able to encourage the vomit reflex when I'm feeling like I NEED to puke but my body is resisting it. If you catch my drift.


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