Puke on the family trip

A calm scene before Retch No. 5

A calm scene before Retch No. 5

When we booked this family vacation to Los Angeles, it was supposed to be about togetherness, birthday celebrations, and outfitter-driven activities for all ages (available through my client, Expedia). So far, however, the trip largely has been about something entirely different: puke.

As in, vomit, throm, throw-up, retch.

All of the puke has come from poor little R; she caught a flu bug from her sister the day before we left, and somehow has managed to throw up at least—I stress, at least—once a day every day of the visit. (Lucky for us, she didn’t actually throw up on our transit day, but she did poop her pants on the plane, due in part to bad diarrhea.)

Today’s episode was by far the most dramatic. After a wonderful day celebrating L’s birthday at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, we got back to the hotel and handed the car to the valet guys just in time for poor R to throm all over the porte cochere.

Both Powerwoman and I can handle the smell and cleanup of vom on the road—we both like to drink, and L puked a bunch when she was younger so we’ve had plenty of practice.

That said, what remains difficult about vom management are basic logistics. Who stays back at the hotel with sick child? How long can the free parent be free before trapped spouse starts to feel antsy? What in the hell do you feed a sick kid on the road when everything requires effort to obtain?

Another challenge: Persevering in the face of awkwardness with restaurant staffers after your kid throws up in a booth during breakfast and it takes the crew 15 minutes to respond with a mop. (Fellow traveling parents, I would have cleaned it up with individual wipes but the host wouldn’t let me! Also, um, ewwwww.)

Perhaps the biggest challenge is dealing with the sick child directly. She’s whiney. She’s pathetic. She doesn’t want to move anywhere. And if your kid is anything like mine, she probably doesn’t want to be touched, either.

I’m not complaining here, I’m just saying the whole vacation-with-a-sick-kid is a different ball of wax.

My advice? Be ready to be flexible. Discuss a backup strategy with your traveling partners in advance, just in case. Be willing to eat a lot of room-service toast. Finally, remind yourself that sick kids on family trips are the exception, not the norm; as religious folks likes to say, this too shall pass.

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