Today Lucia, Greta, and I went out to lunch with a friend and her daughter. I was anxious about the plan—even though I’d proposed it, since I had a Groupon that was expiring tomorrow, and going out in the evening for dinner just isn’t realistic, what with Greta’s witching hour. Going to the playground by myself with both girls is pretty much the extent of our public excursions, so a restaurant was kind of a big step.
We went early and sat in a booth, and the toddlers were content with the basket of tortilla chips the waiter brought over. No one else was in the restaurant. We ordered our meals, and some rice and beans for the little ones. Greta fell asleep in the stroller. Lucia stood happily in the booth eating chips. Though she refused it at first, eventually she even ate some rice and beans. I was feeling proud, confident, powerful—out in the world! with two babies! having lunch with a friend in a restaurant, having a conversation!—when, out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw Lucia bend over and vomit dramatically all over the seat of the booth. And then vomit again all over the floor. And then again, either on the seat or the floor; I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter.
I jumped out of my seat and pulled her away from the vomit; miraculously, it hadn’t gotten on her at all. She was whimpering but otherwise seemed fine, and almost immediately began saying “I sick! I sick!” and running back and forth along the length of the restaurant. Meanwhile, the horrified waiter brought me a towel, and then a roll of paper towels, and then a plastic bag in which to seal the toxic mess. I cleaned everything up as well as I could, on my hands and knees under the table. “Do you have kids?” I asked the waiter, who was hovering nearby. He said he did not. “Well, then, you hate us right now,” I acknowledged. He gave a little laugh but seemed mollified when I handed over a gigantic tip with the bill.
We left, Lucia cheerier than ever, waving and saying “Bye bye!” to the tight-lipped manager, running ahead of the stroller down the street saying “I sick! I sick!”, nibbling on a tortilla chip she’d taken with her.
She did not seem sick, then or beforehand. But when I think back over the day, I should have seen a few red flags—mainly, that she refused to eat any breakfast at all and refused to eat any snacks in the late morning, not even a beloved Clementine or a Nutrigrain bar. She ate nothing but a few pretzels and one or two bites of toast the entire rest of the day, but seems otherwise okay.
We may be awoken tonight with a vomit-filled crib and/or a raging fever; who knows. Those would not be a parenting first. A pool of vomit in a Park Slope restaurant, however, definitely was. You’re gonna miss this…