Sometimes, raising a child is a lot like walking into a spiderweb: it’s sticky, you flail about wildly for reasons known only to you, and onlookers wonder if maybe you need help.  And you’re left wiping the product of another being’s various orifices off your person for the rest of the day.

I have somewhere I’m going with this, I swear.

So, throughout Evie’s short life, we’ve experienced very little vomit.

Oh, sorry.  Disclaimer:  THIS POST IS REALLY GROSS.

Anyway, very little vomit.  There was the time late in the night when her stomach violently rejected the McNuggets she’d had for dinner.  Why her stomach was so offended by perfectly good pink slime, I don’t know.  There was another time when her stomach decided against a crap ton of red grapes she’d had before bed.  Why does vomit so often come in the night?  The red grapes episode was especially fun because of my decision to just scoop up the soiled sheets and blankets and dump the whole thing in the washer.  Did you know that washing machines won’t dispose of red grape skins for you?  They won’t.

But these episodes, exciting as they were, were short-lived.  We’d never experienced a long term stomach virus.  I’d never had to deal with a continually puking child and all the magic that comes with it.

That is, until two weeks ago.  Evie woke up a couple of Saturday mornings ago, took a look at the beautiful sunshine and blue sky and decided it was a good day to throw up all over it.  

Her first session began on the couch where she suddenly turned an interesting shade of green and began to gag and cough.  Instant panic.  Everything went in slow motion.  Gill grabbed Evie up by her armpits and raced her into the bathroom.  Then, as most fathers witnessing a barf-spewing child would do, he ran away.  I took over, and we got through it.  It was awesome.

Then, miraculously, Evie was fine.  She played, she laughed, she began to whine about what we were going to do that day.  Well, thought I, maybe it was a fluke.  We’ve had flukes before.  McNuggets, red grapes.  Flukes.  Let’s go out!

I can laugh about it now.  Bitterly.

First, Evie, Evie’s Mimi and I painted pottery.  Then we went to lunch.  I ordered Pukey McBarferson dry toast and Sprite, just in case.  The waitress eyed us suspiciously and disappeared into the back to thoroughly douse herself with Purell, I’m sure.  Then, we went Target.  Because of course.

I won’t be able to go back to Target for a while, I don’t think.  At least a month or so.

Upon our arrival at Our Lady of the Red Bullseye, Evie seemed like she felt kind of puny.  She’s just tired, I told myself.  And we have a protocol we follow at Target when Evie’s tired.  I plopped her a cart, and we headed for the Home section.  There I plucked two overstuffed pillows off the shelf, along with a nice, cushy blankie.  I stuffed the pillows around Evie and wrapped her in the blankie.  I made sure she was comfy-cozy.  Because I’m an awesome mommy.  An awesome, thoughtful mommy who has no critical thinking skills.

And, yes, I can see NOW what’s coming next.  I didn’t at the time.  I DIDN’T AT THE TIME.

The ironic thing is, right before it happened, I made a point to move the Vitamin Water I’d bought for Evie out of the cart so that it wouldn’t spill all over the blankie and pillows.  It was then that a pocket of righteous suck opened up.

There was a little sound she made with her throat, a little hiccupping sound.  Then, the suck.  Waves and waves of vomit issued forth like a dry toast and Sprite geyser from my baby girl.  Oh, and strawberries.  I let her have strawberries at lunch.  Well, rent them, really.  It just kept coming, y’all.  I tried to stop it.  Oh, how I tried.  In a moment of blind panic, I reached out my hands and tried to catch it, to contain it.  I tried to keep it from pouring like strawberry-scented lava all over Evie, me and the poor blankie and pillows who were just sitting quietly on the shelf and never asked to be a part of this madness.

Y’all, it was everywhere.  And when it was over, Evie sat silently in the cart, staring straight ahead, not moving.  But I knew we had to move.  Quickly.  We had to make it to the bathroom before, God help us all, it happened again.  However, as we were at the very back of the store, the bathrooms were approximately 452 miles away.  

Imagine this coming towards you in Target as you’re benignly shopping for your 4×6 picture frames, tube socks and Endust: a woman, her arms covered in a mysterious pink goo, trying frantically to push a shopping cart with her elbows while inside, amidst a plush nest of goo-covered throw pillows, crouches a small child, wide-eyed and also covered with goo.  Behind the cart rushes another woman, desperately trying not make eye contact with anyone.  They weave wildly through the aisles, looking much like a crash team frantically piloting a gurney off an ambulance and into the ER, if the gurney was a red plastic Target cart filled with home goods and the crash team carried purses and Vitamin Water.  As the gurney-cart rushes past you, you catch a whiff of that unmistakable scent, you realize the goo is vomit and the child probably has a stomach virus…and you still can’t figure out what the hell just happened.

We made it to the bathroom.  I cleaned Evie and myself up the best I could and left her with Mimi in the bathroom to find a new shirt for her, take care of the vomit-covered cart and maybe run far, far away.

I got the cart cleaned up, many thanks to Elias, a former Marine and now Target employee who told me he was on a 10-year no vomit streak.  After he finished “defecting” the strawberry throw pillows and blankie and hosing down the cart, I wonder if Elias is still on his streak.

I guess I’ll never know because I’m never going in that Target again.  Incidentally, they assumed my original intention was to buy the defected pillows and blankets.  I didn’t correct them.  I’m sorry for it.  I know it was wrong.  But I just could not suffer the humiliation of actually purchasing and disposing of vomit-covered sofa accessories from Target.  They get enough of my money.  They can’t have my dignity.  Plus, oh my God.  So embarrassing.

To top it all off, I almost shoplifted the shirt I grabbed off the rack for Evie.

And I don’t think any of us will be eating strawberries for awhile.