“I smell puke on my fingers when I type” I texted to a friend on hour 8 of the 9 hour car trip to Legoland. 9 hours to Legoland really? Yes really. Was that the plan? NO. Not at all. Let’s rewind.
First of all, we all know that any vacation, car trip, plane trip, or even random errand in traffic involves a kid throwing up in our family. So why should this story be any different? The night before the drive from part 1 of vacation in Georgia to part 2 Legoland in Florida, B says he’s going to throw up on our 3.5 minute drive to dinner. “Come on, B. You’re hungry. We’re so sick of your whining. We’re having dinner in 2 seconds.” Wait for it…Puke. Figuring car sickness (this happens all too often), we go to dinner anyway. Not really eating. Hmm…Well, he just puked. Skip ice cream. Go to bed.
6am scream! Grab him from the top bunk in a room he’s sharing with J and 2 friends, rush to the bathroom…Wait for it. Puke. Ok, I’m no genius but a pattern is emerging here. Could this be happening? Our children have been dreaming and waiting for Legoland for months. The day to drive there is finally here. Ears? Strep? What is it? I know. Instead of walking the beach and hitting the pool on this last perfect day of GA vacation in this lovely house with our friends, let’s (1) fight (2) stay inside with a vomiting kid, and (3) spend 3 hours googling urgent cares, minute clinics that are open on EASTER SUNDAY in Florida and also somehow en route to Tampa, our destination that day. I send Michael to the beach for a last romp in the waves so at least one person breathes outdoor air and I stay back to monitor throw up.
We finally pack the car and head out. Next stop Jacksonville, there’s a CVS minute clinic there. About an hour from us. It’s going to add hours to our already 4 hour drive. We have no choice. If this kid needs meds, we need them NOW. Some form of healing drug needs to be traveling through his bloodstream and getting him in Legoland shape pronto. Griswolds to Walley World anyone? That’s us just without the station wagon. Legoland or Die!
Before we start our drive let’s try to find a restaurant for lunch in town. Easter Sunday means nothing is open and the few places that are open have no food our kids will eat (well one is throwing up so only need to feed one technically) nor do they have any food we can eat. Why? Did I mention my husband decided all of a sudden after I thought we shook hands and agreed as a unit that we were fully and completely blowing off Passover because vacation is impossible for Passover and we definitely need to eat sandwiches and pasta this week that he changed his mind? Oh yes, he woke up day 1 of Passover and he says, “I think I’m doing Passover.” “WHAT?!?!?” Now I HAVE to do it too because how am I supposed to sit next to him eating an Italian sub while he’s gnawing on lettuce and clearly I’m the terrible Jew. ugghhhh! So now there’s nothing to eat for anyone. Let’s get back in the car and just drive. Happy Happy Joy Joy.
B is rolling his head around in the backseat crippled with nausea. It’s truly horrible to witness. J fortunately passes out (probably from hunger) for the first stretch. M and I spend that time trying to monitor B and fighting about whether we should pass Jacksonville and stretch another hour to the next CVS minute clinic since J is still passed out. First stop: side of the road a few feet up from the on-ramp of the highway. I’m standing outside the car with B who is bent over dry-heaving and miserable. Michael notices a guy standing at the on-ramp meandering over to us. “Everyone back in the car NOW!!” Michael yells. B you will have to try throwing up again at the next stop buddy.
We finally make it to the first of 45 CVS’s we will frequent that day. It’s about 1:30 (departed at 11am). I remember the time because I signed into the minute clinic terminal and see our nurse practioner or whoever she was with a lab coat. She was just dealing with a screeching toddler and says, “I’m not sure how long this will take, but then I need a break. I’ll meet you back here about 2/2:15.” I want to start screeching myself and explain that we just drove 2 plus hours to this minute clinic which is just a small dent in the journey ahead of us and I have two miserable kids in the car and forget the annoying toddler and stick the ear thing in my kids ear drum and do the throat gag thing and quickly tell me if he needs meds so we can proceed. Instead I say, “So 2:00?” with a look of distress on my face. “Probably closer to 2:10.” We go grab some take-out salads (thank you Michael and Passover, let’s not ease up on ourselves today or anything), and mac n cheese, cheese quesadillas for the kids. M sets the kids up with lunch on the floor outside the CVS bathroom. What a disaster.
She finally calls us in. She looks in his ears. Nothing.
“He had been complaining a couple days ago about his ears so I just wasn’t sure.”
“He was? Let me check again.” She looks again with a “finer” ear thingy instrument.
“The left ear is a little red.”
“It is? Is it infected?”
“Yea it’s infected.”
Um, WHHAAAA? I think she fell sympathetic to our journey, our Legoland or Die fight, and the anticipation of the return flight back with a potentially ear infected, motion sick kid. Ok, bring on the potentially unnecessary antibiotics. While I’m waiting and M has the kids on the floor outside the bathroom, I look for cooler bags and ice packs so I can travel with the antibiotics. None, unless I want a suitcase-sized cooler. Screw it. We only have a few hours left until we get to a hotel refrigerator right? Right. Wrong.
B, who started talking again and not moaning, downs the amoxicillan and immediately goes back to a state of total misery, which continues for the next 6 hours until we arrive at the hotel. Yes 6. We pull over in a random parking lot in the deep south. B asks to hold onto a tree so he can try to puke. No luck. We stop at a random fast food place and go inside this time. It’s so foul. He’s holding onto the toilet leaning over it. He sprawls all over the floor in agony. If he didn’t have a serious illness already, he’s definitely catching something now. I get queasy just thinking about him falling all over the nasty bathroom floor. Still can’t throw up. We go on like this for the next several hours. Stop and start and misery. I lose Michael. He’s threatening to quit the trip and stay the night in no-man’s land Florida. He’s gone. I have 3 to take care of now. “Just pretend you’re not here and drive” I say. He needs to depart mentally. I let him go to some happy place.
I continue in the passenger seat basically propped on my knees and completely bent over into the backseat fielding requests and trying to reposition the trash bags I took from our lovely vacation rental home onto B so no part of his clothes will get covered when he pukes. Now J starts to moan that he wants to throw up. We are about 45 minutes from the hotel at this point. Michael and I both, “J, no you don’t. Just because B needs to throw up, that doesn’t mean you have to. You need a snack! You’re starving. EAT!!” I throw some goldfish at him. He’s whining and impossible. Wait for it. Wait. Yup, spews everywhere. EVERYWHERE! Good thing all the trash bags and towels are covering B head to toe and J is completely uncovered. B: “Not fair that J threw up.” He’s actually jealous because he feels so sick and can’t throw up. Throw up envy. That’s a new one.
Divide and conquer. I start the massive clean up effort while Michael strips J down on the side of the road (yes another road side shoulder stop) and changes his clothes. I hand him a shopping bag full of vomit paper towels. We are pulled over next to next to what looks like a nowhere roadside trash dump pretty much. It’s seriously just scattered trash bags and litter all over these nasty weeds and nothing-ness. Michael says, “Do you care if I just toss this [bag of vomit]?” I knew I needed to let him do this as a revolt against this most horrible day. GO ahead. Toss the vomit. Screw it. Tossed. “Um, Michael, there’s a guy pulling over to check on us.”
Guy in pick up truck who’s just done a u-turn across the median and pulls up next to us. He shouts out the window in his deep southern drawl, “Hey! You’re going to pick up that trash you just threw in the bushes right?” I’m sure he had a shot gun in the backseat. “My kids just threw up” Michael says.
“Oh, I’ve been there” and he slowly drives off. WHAT!?! Did that just happen?
Michael retrieves the trash from the trash bushes and we bring the vomit bag back into the car with us. Nice. As Michael said, “Because it’s much more sanitary to bring it back in the car with us and throw it out at the hotel than to leave it [at the roadside trash dump].”
We text our friends that we are almost there. Oh yes, our friends with 4 year old twins, who drove 3 hours to meet us, have been awaiting our joyous arrival. They have dinner and beer for us. Rockstars. Halle-freakin-luyah. We make it. We actually get there. 8pm. 9 hours. We park the puke rental car. We breathe fresh air and miraculously the boys seem cured. Michael and I can speak to each other again. We decide to stay married and keep our kids. We go inside to check in and I drop the puke trash in the hotel lobby trash can.
Bring it on vacation part 2 and LEGOLAND!