This afternoon we had the Mastermind’s eighth birthday party. He wanted to do glow-in-the-dark mini-golf. His six-year-old brother, the Whirlwind, came along, and he brought three friends—his best friend R., and two of our old neighbours, L. and K.
One man, five kids. I was wary about being that outnumbered in public, but I figured they were old enough that they’d be fine.
Five minutes into the drive, as the kids were intensely discussing Minecraft, everything went oddly silent.
“I just barfed,” R. announced.
“You did what?” I glanced in the mirror just in time to see Round 2 come up all over the back seat. Then the smell hit.
“It smells like pizza,” said L.
R. moaned. “It was pizza.”
There are few things grosser than a car full of puke stink. I thought about turning around, but I knew everyone would be devastated, and R. insisted he felt better now that his lunch was on the floor.
“Can you pull over please?” he said. “My butt is covered in barf.”
We were on the highway and it was raining like a monsoon outside. On top of that, the golfing place had assured us they were very busy on Saturday and if we were a few minutes late, we’d lose our spot.
“Just hang on, buddy,” I said. “We’ll be there really soon.”
“This is the worst birthday ever,” L. cheerfully announced.
We reached the place with 10 minutes to spare. Poor R. really did have barf all over his pants, so I dashed into the Old Navy next door and grabbed a pair of $10 cargo shorts off the discount rack. At the checkout I asked the cashier for paper towels.
As it poured rain in the parking lot, I cleaned up the barf as best I could while R. changed into the shorts in the trunk of our van.
They were huge. I guess Old Navy assumes eight-year-olds have some meat on them, but R.’s pretty skinny. So we hustled into the mini-golf place with R. holding up the shorts with one hand.
As I paid for our round of golf, I asked the girl behind the counter if she had any string. She gave me a funny look.
“We are having a pants issue,” I explained.
She brought me roll of ribbon, the kind you tie on balloons. I cut a good length of it, wound it through R.’s belt loops and MacGyvered him a makeshift belt. It held up pretty well, I must say.
Our round of golf was mostly uneventful, but around the 14th hole R. started to look pretty pale again. “My belly hurts,” he said.
We raced through the last few holes as best we could, which was difficult because we were playing behind a bunch of parents with toddlers who kept running around and crying and doing just about everything but golfing. And the adults thought it would be cute if they stopped to pose for pictures at three holes in a row.
“Are you sure you’re not going to barf again?” I asked R. about 15 times in 10 minutes.
When we finished, I sent him to the bathroom and let the other kids wander around the arcade while I got some more paper towel and water and took another run at the van.
It still smelled like something had died in the backseat.
When I came back inside R. felt well enough to leave the bathroom. Then he turned around and raced back and threw up on the floor. At least he hit the tile and not the carpet.
I went back to the counter and told the girl that one of our group threw up in the bathroom.
She looked at me. “In the toilet?”
So I helped clean that up and then we left. Fortunately it had stopped raining, so we drove with the windows down and the sun roof open even though it was three degrees Celsius outside.
On the way home, L. offered his theories on why R. was sick. “Maybe you’re allergic to buildings,” he suggested. (Have I mentioned how much this kid cracks me up?)
“I’m not allergic to buildings,” R. said.
“No one is allergic to buildings,” K. weighed in.
“It’s possible,” L. said.
“Some people are allergic to potatoes,” the Whirlwind said.
I must confess I drove slightly faster than one should probably drive with five children in the vehicle. In my head I imagined what I might say if I a cop happened to pull me over.
I’m very sorry officer but my van smells like vomit and it’s making me nauseous and I’m trying to get home before I have a complete and utter barforama in the back seat.
These are the things we do for our kids. On the upside, I doubt I will ever forget my son’s eighth birthday.