My friend looked shell shocked after my daughter threw up on his floor. The vomiting took place all over his nicely polished hard wood in a high traffic area during his wife’s birthday party. Sprout had been gorging herself at the buffet and before we knew it WonderWife™ was cupping her hands in front of the girl screaming for somebody to get her a bowl…quick! (Not realizing the severity of the impending situation, my friend politely passed her a small paper plate.)
It wasn’t digest or nausea that left my buddy looking green after the incident, though I’m sure he was feeling both. My childless friend had just witnessed parenting at its worst. Oh yeah, my friend and his wife were expecting. I knew all too well the look in his eyes. Panic was slowly burrowing into his brain bringing with it the horrifying realization of what he was getting himself in to.
When WonderWife™ was pregnant with the Bean, we visited one of her oldest friends and her toddler. They lived in a grown up house like the kind I grew up in, which was entirely unfamiliar to me who was still felt that living in an apartment in the city was what truly made me an adult. The house was filled with unfamiliar and intimidating items like baby gates, high chairs and lots and lots of toys that were strewn about every room. Her boy, like every boy his age, was a whirling tornado of energy that could not be stopped. I was something new in his world, something to be scaled. So while WW™ and her friend caught up, I looked after the kid, who without hesitation proceeded to climb all over me. I chased him when he ran too close to the stairs. I stopped him when he tried to grab some contraband. After mere minutes I was exhausted. This is what parenting was like? On the ride home, I wore the same expression as my friend.
It didn’t help that in the aftermath of Sprout’s spouting that WonderWife™ and I regaled my friend with more kid vomit stories. It was our own misguided attempt to make him feel better by telling him that it gets worse. It’s amazing how insensitive us experienced parents can be around the freaked out newbs. We wear our parenting horror stories like badges of honor, and even though we aren’t too far removed from our pre-childhood days, where even the smallest parent task seemed impossible, we unfairly take ghoulish satisfaction in relaying these events to the uninitiated.
On the way home, WonderWife™ and I felt bad and hoped that we didn’t break our friend. Nervous or not, in a few months he was going to be dealing with his own little vomit machine. And even if after we left if he was convinced that he might have made a terrible mistake, those of us who are firmly entrenched in this thing called parenting know that he didn’t. Being a parent is an amazing thing. But it’s hard to see from that vantage point when you’ve just watched some kid barf on your floor.