"There's something I need to tell you," James informed me when he came to cuddle with me this morning.
"What?" I mumbled into my covers.
"At just about exactly 2:30 this morning, Jonathan starting puking."
I opened my eyes. "What?"
"He got most of it in the toilet."
"He made it to the toilet?"
"Mostly. And there's a little bit on the door handle."
I pictured a little boy wiping his mouth and then touching the door handle. No biggie. I wondered why no one had awakened me.
"Did you get up with him?" I asked. James didn't understand my question. I rephrased. "What happened after he got most of his puke in the toilet?"
"I told him to just stay right there, and then I went and got the big bowl and gave it to him."
"So you got up and helped him."
"And then what happened?"
"He got back in bed, with the bowl, and went back to sleep. He's still sleeping."
"I didn't know if I should wake you up. Should I have woken you up?"
"Yes... but... I'm really proud of you."
James's shoulders squared, his chin lifted, and his chest puffed out. "Anyway," he said, "You'll need to clean up the puke in the bathroom."
I nodded, amused at having been given an assignment by the one clearly in charge of the situation.
As James walked away, he paused and said over his shoulder, "Enter through the laundry room door, not the door that goes to our bedroom."
"Okay," I said.
Weighing all of my options at that moment, I decided my best immediate plan would be to go back to sleep. So I did.
James came to check on me twenty minutes later. He spread his arms out as if to say, "What gives?" and raised his eyebrows at me.
"You think it's time for me to get up?" I asked him.
"Mom. Remember? The bathroom? You need to clean that up."
I chuckled and rolled out of bed, tousling James's hair. Then I padded to the bathroom and peeked inside.
There was a big spatter of puke on the floor next to the puke-filled toilet, and at first glance, it did appear that Jonathan had mostly gotten it all in the toilet, as James said.
It also appeared that Jonathan had not digested anything at all since lunchtime yesterday. Bits of his lunch, all of his afternoon snack, and his entire dinner were represented there on the bathroom floor.
I've just started taking Zoloft, and it makes me a little queasy in the mornings, so I decided my best course of actions would be to eat breakfast before I attempted to clean and disinfect the bathroom.
That was a good decision.
After breakfast, I got started on the cleanup, unsure how to begin to gather the larger chunks.
Jonathan, now awake and ensconced in a comforter on the couch, informed me, "Oh, by the way, the toilet seat was closed when I got to the bathroom, so I puked on top of the fuzzy covering thing, and then when I opened the lid, the puke on the cover got on the back of the toilet."
I lowered the toilet seat lid to see what he was talking about and found a large, cascading waterfall of regurgitated hamburger salad, as well as a newly redecorated puke-themed toilet seat cover.
Nose wrinkled, I removed the toilet seat cover, carried it gingerly to the kitchen sink, rinsed off all the puke chunks, ran the garbage disposal, and threw the seat cover into the washer.
I wasn't exactly sure how to proceed after that, but Jeff said if he were on cleanup duty, he'd grab the dustpan and just start scooping.
"Then I'll have to wash the dustpan, too!" I complained.
Jeff shrugged, "Okay. I'm just telling you what I would do."
I went for the dustpan.
Then, serendipitously, Jeff asked me to fill out some forms for him before he left for the morning. I grabbed at my chance and, handing him the dustpan, I suggested that he could scoop up puke chunks while I filled out forms. His aversion to filling out forms is so great that he quickly agreed.
By the time the forms were filled out, Jeff had scooped up all the big chunks, cleaned the cascading waterfall, and mopped the bathroom floor. It took him a full twenty minutes.
"The toilet is about 95% clean," he informed me as he started to get ready for his day.
"Great! Thank you! So all I have to do is disinfect it."
"Did you clean the boys' bedroom door handle?" I asked.
"Nope," he replied. "I didn't know about it."
I went into the boys' room to get a look at the door handle.
My earlier mental picture of a little boy wiping puke off his face and then touching the door handle was a nice dream in an alternate reality where butterflies can sing and the sun always shines.
In fact, Jonathan had employed the useful makeover method of projectile vomit to completely change the landscape of not just the door handle, and not just the door, but also the walls on either side of the door, a large section of carpet, a giant stuffed fish, some dirty laundry, and a very unlucky assortment of toys.
Jeff, having followed me into the bedroom, took one look and said cheerfully, "Well, I have to go now!"
Go he did. Sometimes he is capable of getting himself out the door with alarming speed.
I went for the dustpan again and got to work scooping up Phase Two of the puke Jonathan had "mostly gotten in the toilet."
Then I emptied the mop bucket of the soiled water left over from Jeff's mop-up and refilled it with clean hot water and lavender-scented Fabuloso. I grabbed my cleaning sponge, and after another twenty minutes, I had saturated and scrubbed the carpet, wiped down the walls, door jam, door handle, latch, both sides of the door, and the baseboard. I also rinsed the big chunks off the stuffed fish and threw him in the washer with the toilet seat cover, and helped Jonathan say farewell a puke-saturated trading card.
When Phase Two of Project Projectile was complete, I returned to the toilet, completely wiping down and disinfecting the whole thing. Hamburger salad is filled with shredded lettuce and tomato chunks. Regurgitated shredded lettuce and regurgitated tomato skin really likes to stick to whatever it has attached itself to. I just kept finding more and more and more.
The last thing I wiped down was the book I keep on the back of the toilet. As I carefully checked the dust jacket for puke spatter and bits of shredded lettuce, I suddenly noticed the title of the book, and after forty minutes of cleaning up chunk after chunk of yesterday's fare, I had to laugh.
The book is called A Continual Feast.
You can say that again.